The system will usually prompt this message if you haven’t paid wages to your employees for the year, @psanborn.
To get rid of this message, you can create a dummy employee and process a zero net paycheck. This way, you can pull up the 941 forms with zero wages from the File Form window. You’ll have to ensure the date and the period is the same when you print it.
After, you can delete the dummy employee and the paycheck. Then, file the printed form directly to the IRS.
You can follow these steps below to remove the employee in QuickBooks.
Go to Employees then choose the Employee Center.
Locate the employee’s profile and click the pencil icon.
Select EmploymentInfo and then select the Termination tab.
Enter a status in the Termination Type field.
Mark the checkbox below to inactive the employee then hit OK.
You can also use the 941 PDF return, then manually enter the information you need. Once done, print it.
You can visit this link: 941 Overview. It contains a detailed explanation of how QuickBooks Desktop Payroll populates the lines on this form.
Feel free to message me again if you have further questions about this matter. I'll be right here to help you. Keep safe.
Yes, someone at Intuit unfamiliar with payroll filing rules thought this was a good idea and decided to save you from yourself by stopping you from filing when you don't have any payroll. Which makes logical sense when you don't know the rules and (it seems) don't care to find out what they are.
While this has been reported here for about six weeks Intuit still hasn't fixed it, even though they could have without any real difficulty, so that customers would have a fix before the 941 deadline.
The workaround support is offering is to create and then void a paycheck in the period. Then the form will run. :|