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Process, print, and save QuickBooks Desktop Payroll tax forms

To help make tax filings easy, QuickBooks Desktop Payroll releases updated tax forms. QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Enhanced subscribers are given access to the updated Federal and State forms as soon as they are available.

Learn how to create, print, and save a copy of different tax forms by following the steps below.

Note: Make sure QuickBooks Desktop is updated to the latest release and you have the latest tax table.

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For more information about the different forms, check out the following:

State and Federal forms (W-2, W-3, 940, and 941)

  1. Go to the Employees menu, then select Payroll Tax Forms & W-2s > Process Payroll Forms.
  2. Select Create Form after selecting the appropriate form.
  3. Make sure the correct period is entered under Select Filing Period. You can select Auto-Fill Contact Info at the top right to populate your form. Note that you can also change the information on the tax form when you view it.
  4. Select OK. QuickBooks Desktop enters the payroll data automatically into the fields on the form.Note: If you need assistance completing your state form, select View details about this form or View filing and printing instructions at the bottom.
  5. Select Check for Errors to look and correct possible errors. Just double-click the error to be redirected to its corresponding section.
  6. If necessary, compare the form to the Payroll Summary Report.

    For Federal forms, compare it to the Employee State Taxes Detail report (go to the Reports menu, then select Employees & Payroll > Employee State Taxes Detail).

    Note: To modify a number that QuickBooks Desktop filled in automatically, right-click the field, then choose Override. If you can't override a number for a few cents (usually due to rounding), create a liability adjustment for the amount.

  7. Select Save as PDF to save a copy of the file. You can later open the file by going to the Saved Filings.
  8. At this point, you can either print the form or submit it for electronic filing if you are enrolled to e-file services.
Note for State forms: Many QuickBooks Desktop forms look different from the versions that the states publish. QuickBooks Desktop forms comply with the state's requirements, have been approved, and can still be filed with your state. Some state forms, including those for Oregon and Texas, look like they are printing without any formatting, boxes, or instructions (just dollar amounts). These forms are still correct and can be filed on blank paper.

Print forms W-2, W-3, 940, and 941

  • We recently changed our method of printing tax forms in QuickBooks Desktop to utilize PDF viewers. Navigate to the FAQ section to find out more details about this.
  • For employees, make sure your paycheck has the correct name, address, and Social Security number.
  • For employers, ensure the Federal (EIN) and State Employer Identification (SEIN) numbers, and the company address is correct in the forms.
  1. In the form, select Print for Your Records....
  2. Select the items you need to print. You can pick among the following:
    • Tax form(s) only
    • Tax form(s) and filing instructions
    • Specific form(s)

    You may see Choose number of copies or Printer Setup if you are printing forms that haven't been switched to the new printing method yet.

  3. Select Print PDF. This opens the default PDF viewer installed in your computer. You may get prompted to choose which program to use to open the PDF if you haven't selected a default one yet. Once you have selected a program for opening the PDF, QuickBooks Desktop will remember it and will not ask again.Note: If you are using Windows 10, make sure that the default program to open a PDF file is set to Adobe and not a web browser (e.g. Microsoft Edge or etc.) Check this article to make Acrobat or Reader the default owner of PDF files in Windows 10.
  4. Once the PDF reader successfully opens the form, you may go ahead and print it.
Note: The steps when printing from the PDF reader may vary depending on the program that you are using. We recommend using Adobe Acrobat Reader as this program works well with QuickBooks Desktop. To print PDF files, see Print a PDF for more information.

Save changes

  1. Select Save and Close to save the changes and come back later.
  2. If you want to continue editing, go to the Employees menu, then select Payroll Tax Forms & W-2s > Process Payroll Forms.
  3. Select the appropriate form, then select Create Form.
  4. Open Draft to open the copy of the form you saved. Note that it will not incorporate any changes you may have made to your payroll — it will be exactly as it was when you originally saved it.
  5. If you want to incorporate changes you made in QuickBooks Desktop, select Start New Form. You will be presented with a blank form and you must fill it out again.

Note: If you select Save and Close and create a backup copy of the company file, the restored copy of the company file will not have the saved information in it. Save and Close does not populate the form in the Saved Filings area.

Important: Your data migration can take up to 5 business days to complete (from the time we receive your Acomba backup). In an effort to keep you as informed as possible, should any problems arise within this service timeframe, we will contact you to communicate any delays.

Open Saved Filings

When you create a tax form, you see the Automatically create an archive when I e-file or print checkbox at the bottom of the form. Saved Filings appear when you mark this checkbox. An archive is saved in PDF format in your computer, then either print or e-files the form when you select Submit Form....

To check your Saved Filings:

  1. Go to the Employees menu, then select Payroll Center.
  2. Go to the File Forms tab.
  3. Under Filing History, go to the Saved Filings tab.
  4. A table of all your saved tax forms in PDF format is displayed. Select the link under the Saved PDF column to open the file.

Can't see your form in the Saved Filings tab?

This may be caused by the following:

  • The Automatically create an archive when I e-file or print checkbox was not selected.
  • You selected Save as PDF but didn't save the form in the same folder the Saved Filings are saved.Note: Be careful when using Save as PDF if you aren't finished creating the form because you might save an incomplete PDF version. This runs a risk of filing the wrong information.

Form printing service for payroll forms

QuickBooks Desktop Payroll has now introduced a change in the way payroll forms are printed – First, the forms are printed to a PDF format using QuickBooks, then the user can print the PDF using a local or network printer. This change is applicable when the user wants to print Federal forms such as W2 as well as State tax forms.

Why was this change implemented?

  • The new print method is designed to incorporate technology changes introduced by the Federal and State agencies when form changes are published going forward.
  • This new print method enables QuickBooks Desktop Payroll to bring the new Form changes, specified by the Federal and State agencies, much faster into the product.
  • This new print method additionally lets the employer save a local PDF copy of the form, either for electronic filing or for emailing to employees – a greener, more environmentally friendly solution. As an employer, you can now view the form in PDF before it is sent for printing. To view the form, you will need a PDF reader and we recommend using Adobe Acrobat Reader.

How do I change alignment for pre-printed forms?

In the new print method, the alignment options for pre-printed forms are available as in the old print method. Hence, employers can continue to modify the alignment based on their specific printer settings.

How does the new print method work with file sharing or third-party e-filing services?

The customers using any file sharing service or third-party e-filing services can continue with their existing process of e-filing or file sharing. You, as an employer, can save the PDF form directly at the specific location on the local drive. Then you can map that location as the source location for the third -party software. For more instructions or support, contact your third-party software user manual or customer support.

What tax forms require a PDF viewer for printing?

Currently, all of the tax forms in QuickBooks Desktop Payroll already require a PDF viewer when printing.

Can I use pre-printed forms sold by vendors aside from Intuit in printing from QuickBooks Desktop?

The pre-printed forms in QuickBooks Desktop are designed to work perfectly with Intuit Supplied Papers from our Checks & Supplies. Non-Intuit papers aren't guaranteed to fit perfectly, thus you may have to manually adjust the alignment of the form.

Payroll tax form displays in a different language

This can occur if the Windows regional settings is not set to the United States locale. QuickBooks Desktop requires the English (United States) regional setting in order to function properly. Change regional settings in Windows to resolve this issue.

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