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Payroll 101: Reporting the Payroll Taxes (Payroll Forms)

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So we started a company, we have our necessary identification numbers and know who we’re going to make a paycheck for. Our employees understand their value better, and we know when we will pay the payroll taxes: but what about filing the payroll forms? Again this is something that the employer can choose to manage, or they can use a full-service payroll service like QuickBooks Online Payroll to do it for them.  



First, let’s talk about the forms:

Federal 941/944/943 forms

These forms report federal income tax withholding, social security (employer + employee) and Medicare (employer + employee) and reconcile the deposits made. 

If you didn’t know, employers with agricultural employees would file a 943 form. By default, a non-agricultural employer must file a 941 unless they receive written notice from the IRS that indicates they qualify for a 944. If an employer expects to have $1,000 or less, they can contact the IRS in the first quarter to indicate they want to file 944.


So with that: 

  • Form 941
    Due on the last business day of the first month that follows the end of the quarter.
  • Forms 944 and 943
    Due Jan 31 of the following year. So if you’re running payroll this year, then Forms 944 and 943 are due January 31, 2023.
  • Federal 940 form
    This form is used to report federal unemployment tax (FUTA). Due Jan 31.
    State unemployment tax information is also reported on the 940 form to determine the amount of credit allowed when calculating the Federal liability.  


State Forms

  • Wage/Reconciliation Reports
    SUI wage reports and quarterly contribution reports typically accompanied with payment at quarter end. Many states require monthly, quarterly (most common) or annual filing for withholding tax
    Cities, counties, or school districts that assess tax may also require quarterly or annual forms
  • Annual Reconciliation
    Some states require filing an annual reconciliation for withholding tax at the end of the year, for most states and some localities this may include W2’s


Let’s take a look at at the paycheck again

All US based companies have to submit the following forms to the Federal government:

  • Forms 941, 944 or 943 - due quarterly or annually
  • Form 940 - due annually


Since our sample company is in California we also have to submit:

  • CA DE 9 and DE 9C  which is due quarterly for both the employee and the employer portions



Of course, at year end your employees all care about their W2. 
So let’s briefly touch on the W2:

W-2 Form

A W-2 form shows important information about the income earned, amounts of taxes withheld, benefits provided and other information for the year.  

Employers must provide employees with their W2s by January 31st. (copies B, C & 2). A copy of the W-2 needs to be filed with the Social Security Administration (SSA) by January 31st (copy A) 

You may have heard of a W-3 form. The W-3 is a summary form that sums up all the W-2 data. The W-3 form is not required when W-2s are e-filed with the Social Security Administration (SSA).


Wow! That was a lot of information. I hope you learned more about payroll this week and feel a little more confident about how payroll works. 

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