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Publication 51

(Circular A), Agricultural Employer's Tax Guide


What's New(p1)


This publication reflects changes included in the recently enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

New tables for wage withholding and advance earned income credit (EIC) payments.(p1)

New tables for wage withholding and advance earned income credit (EIC) payments have been developed due to changes made to the tax law by ARRA.
The federal income tax withholding percentage tables, federal income tax withholding wage bracket tables, and advance EIC tables have been removed from this revision and can now be found on pages 3–35 in Publication 15-T, New Wage Withholding and Advance Earned Income Credit Payment Tables (For Wages Paid Through December 2009). Publication 15 (Circular E), Employer's Tax Guide, will use the new tables found in Publication 15-T also.
The Publication 15-T also includes the new tables for alternative methods for figuring withholding from Publication 15-A, Employer's Supplemental Tax Guide.
The new withholding tables in Publication 15-T also apply for figuring income tax withholding on pension payments.
Employers should begin using these tables as soon as possible after February 17, 2009, but no later than April 1, 2009.

Withholding income taxes on the wages of nonresident alien employees.(p2)

Due to changes enacted by ARRA, new higher amounts in the chart titled Amount to Add to Nonresident Alien Employee's Wages for Calculating Income Tax Withholding Only on page 11 in section 5 must be used with new withholding tables to figure income tax withholding on the wages of nonresident alien employees.

COBRA premium assistance credit.(p2)

ARRA allows a credit against employment taxes for providing COBRA premium assistance for certain involuntarily terminated employees once the employees' reduced share of the premiums has been paid. See COBRA premium assistance credit in the Introduction.

Social security and Medicare tax for 2009.(p2)

Do not withhold social security tax after an employee reaches $106,800 in social security wages. There is no limit on the amount of wages subject to Medicare tax. Social security and Medicare taxes apply to the wages of household workers you pay $1,700 or more in cash.

Credit card payments.(p2)

You can pay the balance due on Form 943 by using your credit card. However, you cannot deposit taxes through your credit card. See Credit card payments in the Reminders section.

New employment tax adjustment and claim process in 2009.(p2)

If you discover an error on a previously filed Form 943, Employer's Annual Federal Tax Return for Agricultural Employees, after December 31, 2008, make the correction using Form 943-X, Adjusted Employer's Annual Federal Tax Return for Agricultural Employees or Claim for Refund. Form 943-X is a stand-alone form that allows employers to correct errors immediately after an error is discovered. Employers no longer have to wait until the end of a year to make adjustments by filing Form 941c, Supporting Statement To Correct Information, with Form 943. Claim for refund or abatement of employment taxes previously made on Form 843, Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement, are now made on Form 943-X. See section 9 and get the Instructions for Form 943-X for additional information. For more information, visit the IRS website at and enter the keywords Correcting Employment Taxes.

Disregarded entities and qualified subchapter S subsidiaries (QSubs).(p2)

The IRS has published final regulations (Treasury Decision 9356) under which QSubs and eligible single-owner disregarded entities are treated as separate entities for employment tax purposes. For more information, see Publication 15 (Circular E).

Differential wage payments.(p2)

Qualified differential wage payments made to former employees serving in the Armed Forces after 2008 are subject to income tax withholding but not social security, Medicare, or FUTA taxes. For more information, see Publication 15 (Circular E).




Additional employment tax information.(p2)

Visit the IRS website at and select the "Employment Taxes for Businesses" link for a list of employment tax topics. For employment tax information by telephone, call 1-800-829-4933; or call IRS TeleTax at 1-800-829-4477 for recorded information by topic.

Change of address.(p2)

If you changed your business mailing address or business location, notify the IRS by filing Form 8822, Change of Address. For information on how to change your address for deposit coupons, see Making deposits with FTD coupons in section 7.

Electronic payment.(p2)

Now, more than ever before, businesses can enjoy the benefits of paying their taxes electronically. Whether you rely on a tax professional or handle your own taxes, the IRS offers you convenient programs to make it easier.
Spend less time and worry on taxes and more time running your business. Use Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) to your benefit.
For EFTPS, visit or call EFTPS Customer Service at 1-800-555-4477 (Business) or 1-800-316-6541 (Individual).
Use the electronic options available from IRS and make filing and paying taxes easier. For more information, see Publication 966, The Secure Way to Pay Your Federal Taxes.

Credit card payments.(p2)

You can use your American Express Card®, Discover® Card, MasterCard® card, or Visa® card to pay the balance due shown on Form 943. To pay by credit card, call the toll-free number or visit the website of either service provider listed below. You will be charged a convenience fee for this service. You can find out the amount of the fee by calling below or visiting the website.
You cannot use your credit card to deposit taxes. More information about credit card payments is available on the IRS website. Go to and click on the electronic IRS link.

When you hire a new employee.(p3)

Ask each new employee to complete the 2009 Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate, or its Spanish version, Formulario W-4(SP). Also, ask the employee to show you his or her social security card so that you can record the employee's name and social security number accurately. If the employee has lost the card or recently changed names, have the employee apply for a duplicate or corrected card. If the employee does not have a card, have the employee apply for one on Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. See section 1.

Eligibility for employment.(p3)

You must verify that each new employee is legally eligible to work in the United States. This includes completing the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. You can get the form from USCIS offices or by calling 1-800-870-3676. Contact the USCIS at 1-800-375-5283, or visit the USCIS website at for further information.

New hire reporting.(p3)

You are required to report any new employee to a designated state new-hire registry. Many states accept a copy of Form W-4 with employer information added. Call the Office of Child Support Enforcement at 202-401-9267 (not toll free), or visit its website at for more information.

Forms in Spanish.(p3)

You can provide Formulario W-4(SP), Certificado de Exención de Retenciones del Empleado, in place of Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate, to your Spanish-speaking employees. For more information, see Publicación 17(SP), El Impuesto Federal sobre los Ingresos (Para Personas Físicas). You may also provide Formulario W-5(SP), Certificado del Pago por Adelantado del Crédito por Ingreso del Trabajo, in place of Form W-5, Earned Income Credit Advance Payment Certificate.
For nonemployees, Formulario W-9(SP), Solicitud y Certificación del Número de Identificación del Contribuyente, may be used in place of Form W-9, Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification.
References in this publication to Form W-4, Form W-5, or Form W-9 also apply to their equivalent Spanish translations—Formulario W-4(SP), Formulario W-5(SP), or 
Formulario W-9(SP).

Information returns.(p3)

You may be required to file information returns to report certain types of payments made during the year. For example, you must file Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income, to report payments of $600 or more to persons not treated as employees (for example, independent contractors) for services performed for your trade or business. For details about filing Forms 1099 and for information about required electronic filing, see the 2009 General Instructions for Forms 1099, 1098, 5498, and W-2G for general information and the separate, specific instructions for each information return that you file (for example, 2009 Instructions for Form 1099-MISC). Do not use Forms 1099 to report wages or other compensation that you paid to employees; report these amounts on Form W-2.
See the separate Instructions for Forms W-2 and W-3 for details about filing Forms W-2 and for information about required electronic filing. If you file 250 or more Forms W-2, you must file them electronically. SSA will not accept Forms W-2 and W-3 filed on any magnetic media.
After December 1, 2008, you cannot file 
Forms 1099 using magnetic media.

Information reporting call site.(p3)

The IRS operates a centralized call site to answer questions about reporting on Forms W-2, W-3, 1099, and other information returns. If you have questions related to reporting on information returns, you may call 1-866-455-7438 (toll free) or 304-263-8700 (not toll free). Hearing-impaired individuals may use the TTY/TTD service at 304-267-3367 (not toll free). The call site can also be reached by email at

Private delivery services.(p3)

You can use certain private delivery services designated by the IRS to send tax returns and payments. The list includes only the following.
Your private delivery service can tell you how to get written proof of the mailing date.
Private delivery services cannot deliver items to P.O. boxes. You must use the U.S. Postal Service to mail any item to an IRS P.O. box address.

Web-based application for an employer identification number (EIN).(p3)

You can apply for an employer identification number (EIN) online by visiting the IRS website at and selecting "Employer ID Numbers (EINs)."

When a crew leader furnishes workers to you.(p3)

Record the crew leader's name, address, and EIN. See sections 2, 10, and 11.

Contacting your Taxpayer Advocate.(p3)

If you have attempted to deal with an IRS problem unsuccessfully, you should contact your Taxpayer Advocate.
The Taxpayer Advocate independently represents your interests and concerns within the IRS by protecting your rights and resolving problems that have not been fixed through normal channels. While Taxpayer Advocates cannot change the tax law or make a technical tax decision, they can clear up problems that resulted from previous contacts and ensure that your case is given a complete and impartial review.
To contact your Taxpayer Advocate:
For more information, see Publication 1546, Taxpayer Advocate Service: Your Voice at the IRS (now available in Chinese, Korean, Russian, and Vietnamese, in addition to English and Spanish).

Photographs of missing children.(p4)

The Internal Revenue Service is a proud partner with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Photographs of missing children selected by the Center may appear in this publication on pages that would otherwise be blank. You can help bring these children home by looking at the photographs and calling 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) if you recognize a child.



The following are important dates and responsibilities. See section 7 for information about depositing taxes reported on Forms 941, 943, 944, and 945. Also see Publication 509, Tax Calendars for 2009.


If any date shown below falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the due date is the next business day. A statewide legal holiday delays a filing due date only if the IRS office where you are required to file is located in that state. For any due date, you will meet the "file" or "furnish" requirement if the form is properly addressed and mailed First-Class or sent by an IRS-designated delivery service by the due date. See Private delivery services earlier.

By January 31(p4)


By February 15(p4)

Ask for a new Form W-4 or Formulario W-4(SP) from each employee who claimed exemption from federal income tax withholding last year.

On February 16(p4)

Begin withholding federal income tax for any employee who previously claimed exemption from federal income tax withholding but has not given you a new Form W-4 for the current year. If the employee does not give you a new Form W-4, withhold as if he or she is single, with zero withholding allowances. The Form W-4 previously given to you claiming exemption is now expired. See section 5 for more information. However, if you have an earlier Form W-4 for this employee that is valid, withhold based on the earlier Form W-4.

By February 28(p4)

File paper Forms 1099 and 1096. File Copy A of all paper Forms 1099 with Form 1096, Annual Summary and Transmittal of U.S. Information Returns, with the IRS. For electronically filed returns, see By March 31 below.

By February 28(p4)

File paper Forms W-2 and W-3. File Copy A of all paper Forms W-2 with Form W-3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements, with the Social Security Administration (SSA). For electronically filed returns, see By March 31 next.

By March 31(p4)

File electronic Forms W-2 and 1099. File electronic Forms W-2 with the SSA and Forms 1099 with the IRS. See Social Security's Employer Reporting Instructions and Information webpage at for more information about filing Forms W-2 and W-2c electronically.

By April 30, July 31, October 31, and January 31(p4)

Deposit FUTA taxes. Deposit FUTA tax if the undeposited amount is over $500.

Before December 1(p4)

Remind employees to submit a new Form W-4 if their withholding allowances have changed or will change for the next year.

On December 31 (p5)

Form W-5, Earned Income Credit Advance Payment Certificate, expires. Eligible employees who want to receive advance payments of the earned income credit for the next year must give you a new Form W-5.


This publication is for employers of agricultural workers (farmworkers). It contains information that you may need to comply with the laws for agricultural labor (farmwork) relating to social security and Medicare taxes, FUTA tax, and withheld federal income tax.
If you have nonfarm employees, see Publication 15 (Circular E), Employer's Tax Guide. If you have employees in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, see Publication 80 (Circular SS). Publication 15-A, Employer's Supplemental Tax Guide, contains more employment-related information, including information about sick pay and pension income. Publication 15-B, Employer's Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits, contains information about the employment tax treatment and valuation of various types of noncash compensation.

Ordering publications and forms.(p5)


See Quick and Easy Access to IRS Tax Help and Tax Products at the end of this publication. You can order your 2008 and 2009 employment tax and information return forms, instructions, and publications online at Select "Online Ordering for Information Returns and Employer Returns."
Instead of ordering paper Forms W-2 and W-3, consider filing them electronically using the Social Security Administration's (SSA) free e-file service. Visit SSA's Employer Reporting Instructions and Information website at, select "Electronically File Your W-2s," and provide registration information. You will be able to create and file "fill-in" versions of Forms W-2 with SSA and can print out completed copies of Forms W-2 for filing with state and local governments, distribution to your employees, and for your records. Form W-3 will be created for you based on your Forms W-2.

Telephone help.(p5)


You can call the IRS toll free with your employment tax questions at 1-800-829-4933.

Help for people with disabilities.(p5)


Telephone help is available using TTY/TDD equipment. You can call 1-800-829-4059 (toll free) with any question or to order forms and publications. See your tax package for the hours of operation.

COBRA premium assistance credit.(p5)


The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) provides certain former employees, retirees, spouses, former spouses, and dependent children the right to temporary continuation of health coverage at group rates. COBRA generally covers multiemployer health plans and health plans maintained by private-sector employers (other than churches) with 20 or more full and part-time employees. Parallel requirements apply to these plans under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Under the Public Health Service Act, COBRA requirements apply also to health plans covering state or local government employees. Similar requirements apply under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and under some state laws. For the premium assistance (or subsidy) discussed below, these requirements are all referred to as COBRA requirements.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) allows a credit against "payroll taxes" (referred to in this publication as "employment taxes") for providing COBRA premium assistance to assistance eligible individuals. For periods of COBRA continuation coverage beginning after February 16, 2009, a group health plan must treat an assistance eligible individual as having paid the required COBRA continuation coverage premium if the individual elects COBRA coverage and pays 35% of the amount of the premium.
An assistance eligible individual is a qualified beneficiary of an employer's group health plan who is eligible for COBRA continuation coverage during the period beginning September 1, 2008, and ending December 31, 2009, due to the involuntarily termination from employment of a covered employee during the period and elects continuation COBRA coverage. The assistance for the coverage can last up to 9 months.
The 65% of the premium not paid by the assistance eligible individuals is reimbursed to the employer maintaining the group health plan. The reimbursement is made through a credit against the employer's employment tax liabilities. The employer takes the credit on the 2009 Form 943 once the 35% of the premium is paid by or on behalf of the assistance eligible individual. The credit is treated as a deposit made on the first day of the return period (quarter or year). In the case of a multiemployer plan, the credit is claimed by the plan, rather than the employer. In the case of an insured plan subject to state law continuation coverage requirements, the credit is claimed by the insurance company, rather than the employer.
Anyone claiming the credit for COBRA assistance payments must maintain the following information to support their claim, including the following.
For more information, visit the IRS website at and enter keywords COBRA Health Insurance Continuation Premium Subsidy.

Comments and suggestions.(p6)


We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.
You can write to us at the following address:

Internal Revenue Service 
Business Forms and Publications Branch 
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526 
Washington, DC 20224

We respond to many letters by telephone. Therefore, it would be helpful if you would include your daytime phone number, including the area code, in your correspondence.
You can email us at * (The asterisk must be included in the address.) Please put "Publications Comment" on the subject line. Although we cannot respond individually to each email, we do appreciate your feedback and will consider your comments as we revise our tax products.

Ordering forms and publications.(p6)

Visit to download forms and publications, call 1-800-829-3676, or write to the address below and receive a response within 10 days after your request is received.

Internal Revenue Service 
National Distribution Center 
1201 N. Mitsubishi Motorway 
Bloomington, IL 61705-6613


Tax questions.(p6)

If you have a tax question, check the information available on or call 1-800-829-1040. We cannot answer tax questions sent to either of the above addresses.


Useful items

You may want to see:

 15 (Circular E), Employer's Tax Guide
 15-A Employer's Supplemental Tax Guide
 15-B Employer's Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits
 225 Farmer's Tax Guide
 535 Business Expenses
 583 Starting a Business and Keeping Records
 1635 Understanding Your EIN

1. Taxpayer Identification Numbers(p6)


previous topic occurrence Individual taxpayer identification number next topic occurrence

If you are required to withhold any federal income, social security, or Medicare taxes, you will need an employer identification number (EIN) for yourself. Also, you will need the social security number (SSN) of each employee and the name of each employee as shown on the employee's social security card.

Employer identification number (EIN).(p6)


An employer identification number (EIN) is a nine-digit number that the IRS issues. The digits are arranged as follows: 00-0000000. It is used to identify the tax accounts of employers and certain others who have no employees. Use your EIN on all of the items that you send to the IRS and SSA.
If you do not have an EIN, you may apply for one online. Go to the IRS website at Click on the tab for businesses and go to "Employer ID Numbers". Click on "Apply for an EIN online" and then "apply online now." You may also apply for an EIN by calling 1-800-829-4933, or you can fax or mail Form SS-4 to the IRS. Do not use a social security number (SSN) in place of an EIN.
If you do not have an EIN by the time a return is due, write "Applied For" and the date you applied for it in the space shown for the number. If you took over another employer's business, do not use that employer's EIN.
See Depositing without an EIN in section 7 if you must make a tax deposit and you do not have an EIN.
You should have only one EIN. If you have more than one, and are not sure which one to use, call the toll-free Business and Specialty Tax Line at 1-800-829-4933 (TTY/TDD users can call 1-800-829-4059). Provide the EINs that you have, the name and address to which each number was assigned, and the address of your principal place of business. The IRS will tell you which EIN to use.
For more information, see Publication 1635, Understanding Your EIN, or Publication 583, Starting a Business and Keeping Records.

When you receive your EIN.(p6)

If you are a new employer that indicated a federal tax obligation when requesting an EIN, you will be pre-enrolled in the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). You will receive information in your Employer Identification Number (EIN) Package about Express Enrollment and an additional mailing containing your EFTPS personal identification number (PIN) and instructions for activating your PIN. Call the toll-free number located in your "How to Activate Your Enrollment" brochure to activate your enrollment and begin making your payroll tax deposits. Be sure to tell your payroll provider about your EFTPS enrollment. Consider using EFTPS to make your other federal tax payments electronically as well. You should activate your EFTPS enrollment now even if you plan to deposit using FTD coupons (Form 8109) because it may take 5 to 6 weeks to receive the coupons and you may be required to make a deposit while waiting for them.

Social security number (SSN).(p7)


An employee's social security number (SSN) consists of nine digits arranged as follows: 000-00-0000. You must obtain each employee's name and SSN as shown on the employee's social security card because you must enter them on Form W-2. You may, but are not required to, photocopy the social security card if the employee provides it. If you do not show the employee's correct name and SSN on Form W-2, you may owe a penalty unless you have reasonable cause. See Publication 1586, Reasonable Cause Regulations and Requirements for Missing and Incorrect Name/TINs.

Applying for a social security card.(p7)


Any employee without a social security card can get one by completing Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card, and submitting the necessary documentation to SSA. You can get Form SS-5 at SSA offices, by calling 1-800-772-1213, or from the SSA website at The employee must complete and sign Form SS-5; it cannot be filed by the employer. You may be asked to supply a letter to accompany Form SS-5 if the employee has exceeded his or her yearly or lifetime limit for the number of replacement cards allowed.

Applying for a social security number.(p7)


If you file Form W-2 on paper and your employee has applied for an SSN but does not have one when you must file Form W-2, enter "Applied For" on the form. If you are filing electronically, enter all zeros (000-00-0000) in the social security number field. When the employee receives the SSN, file Copy A of Form W-2c, Corrected Wage and Tax Statement, with the SSA to show the employee's SSN. Furnish Copies B, C, and 2 of Form W-2c to the employee. Up to five Forms W-2c per Form W-3c (up to 50 W-3c reports) may be created and submitted to the SSA over the Internet. For more information, visit Social Security's Employer Reporting Instructions and Information webpage at Advise your employee to correct the SSN on his or her original Form W-2.

Correctly record the employee's name.(p7)


Record the name and number of each employee as they are shown on the employee's social security card. If the employee's name is not correct as shown on the card (for example, because of marriage or divorce), the employee should request a corrected card from the SSA. Continue to report the employee's wages under the old name until he or she shows you an updated social security card with the new name.
If SSA issues the employee a replacement card after a name change, or a new card with a different social security number after a change in alien work status, file a Form W-2c to correct the name/SSN reported on the most recently filed Form W-2. It is not necessary to correct other years if the previous name and SSN was used for years before the most recent Form W-2.

IRS individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITINs) for aliens.(p7)


Do not accept an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) in place of an SSN for either employee identification or for work. An ITIN is issued for use by resident and nonresident aliens who need identification for tax purposes, but who are not eligible for U.S. employment. The ITIN is a nine-digit number formatted like an SSN (for example, NNN-NN-NNNN). However, it begins with the number "9" and has either a "7" or "8" as the fourth digit (for example, 9NN-7N-NNNN or 9NN-8N-NNNN).
An individual with an ITIN who later becomes eligible to work in the United States must obtain an SSN. If the individual is currently eligible to work in the United States, instruct the individual to apply for an SSN and follow the instructions under Applying for a social security number earlier. Do not use an ITIN in place of an SSN on Form W-2.

Verification of social security numbers.(p7)


The SSA offers employers and authorized reporting agents three methods for verifying employee SSNs.
Some verification methods require registration. For more information, call 1-800-772-6270.
previous pagePrevious Page: Publication 509 - Tax Calendars - How To Get Tax Help
next pageNext Page: Publication 51 - Circular A, Agricultural Employer's Tax Guide - 2. Who Are Employees?
 Use previous pagenext page to find additional occurrences of topic items.Index for this Publication