Federal Employment Taxes

An employer must withhold the following federal taxes from each employee's gross pay:

  • Federal income taxes (unless the employee chooses exempt status on Form W-4).
  • Social Security Tax
  • Medicare Tax

Note Although an employee may choose to be exempt from having federal income taxes withheld, this does NOT apply to social security and Medicare taxes.

Employment Tax Forms

Federal employment tax returns must be filed by employers either quarterly or annually.

Quarterly:

  • Form 941, Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return

Annually:

  • Form 940, Employer's Annual Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Tax
  • Form 944, Employer's Annual Federal Tax Return
  • Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement
  • Form W-3, Transmittal of Income and Tax Statement

Reporting Due Dates

File the following returns by January 31:

  • Form 940, Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Tax Return. However, if you deposited all of the FUTA tax when due, you have 10 additional calendar days to file.
  • Form 943, Employer's Annual Federal Tax Return for Agricultural Employees if you paid wages to one or more farmworkers and the wages were subject to social security and Medicare taxes or federal income tax withholding under the $150 Test or the $2,500 Test.
  • Form 944, Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return, for the previous calendar year instead of Form 941 if the IRS has notified you in writing to File Form 944
  • Form 945, Annual Return of Withheld Federal Income Tax, to report any non-payroll income tax withheld in the previous year. If you deposited all taxes when due, you have 10 additional calendar days to file.
  • Send Copy A of Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement to the Social Security Administration to report the wages and taxes of your employees. Give Form W-2 to each employee.
  • Form W-3, Transmittal of Income and Tax Statements. All W-2 forms are submitted along with one W-3. The W-3 simply summarizes all W-2 forms being filed, even if only one W-2 was issued. Form A of Form W-3 is completed only when paper Copy A of Forms W-2 is being filed. Do not file Form W-3 alone. Make sure both the Form W-3 and Forms W-2 show the correct tax year and Employer Identification Number (EIN).

File the following returns by February 28:

  • Copy A of all paper Forms 1099
  • Form 1096, Annual Summary and Transmittal of U.S. Information Returns is submitted along with all paper Forms 1099 to the IRS. For electronically filed returns, see March 31 below.
  • Form 8027, Employer’s Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips. File paper Forms 8027 with the IRS.

File the following returns by March 31:

  • File electronic Forms 1099 and 8027 with the IRS.
  • File electronic Forms W-2 with the Social Security Administration (SSA). For information on reporting Form W-2 information to the SSA electronically, visit the Social Security Administration’s Employer W-2 Filing Instructions & Information Web page.

See Publication 1220 (PDF), Specifications for Filing Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, 5498, 8935, and W-2G Electronically.

See Publication 1239 (PDF), Specifications for Filing Form 8027

File the following returns by April 30, July 31, October 31, and January 31:

  • Form 941, Employer’s QUARTERLY Federal Tax Return. If you made timely deposits in full payment of your taxes for the quarter, you may file by the 10th day of the second month that follows the end of the quarter. For example, you may file Form 941 by May 10 if you made timely deposits in full payment of your taxes for the first quarter.

Deposit Due Dates

In general, you must deposit federal income tax withheld and both the employer's and employee's share of social security and Medicare taxes.

There are two deposit schedules, monthly and semi-weekly. Before the beginning of each calendar year, you must determine which of the two deposit schedules you are required to use.

The deposit schedule you must use is based on the total tax liability you reported on Form 941 during a lookback period.

You must use electronic funds transfer (EFTPS) to make all federal tax deposits.

Monthly Depositor:

Under the monthly deposit schedule, deposit employment taxes on payments made during a month by the 15th day of the following month. Employers who deposit monthly should only report their deposits quarterly or annually by filing Form 941 or Form 944.

Semi-weekly Depositor:

Under the semiweekly deposit schedule, deposit employment taxes for payments made on Wednesday, Thursday, and/or Friday by the following Wednesday. Deposit taxes for payments made on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and/or Tuesday by the following Friday. Report your deposits quarterly or annually only by filing Form 941 or Form 944.

FUTA Deposits:

Deposit FUTA tax by the last day of the first month that follows the end of the quarter. If the due date for making your deposit falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, you may make your deposit on the next business day.

If your liability for the fourth quarter plus any undeposited amount from any earlier quarter is over $500, deposit the entire amount by the due date of Form 940 (January 31). If it is $500 or less, you can make a deposit, pay the tax with a credit or debit card, or pay the tax with your Form 940 by January 31.

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