9 IRS Payroll Forms for Small Business

As an employer, one of the biggest responsibilities you have is knowing which payroll forms to fill out. With so many forms out there, it can be difficult to know which apply to your business. Learn which IRS payroll forms your small business must file, due dates, and where to send each form.

9 IRS payroll forms for small business

The types of payroll forms you use depend on your business. Check out nine common small business payroll forms below.

1. Form W-2

Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, reports the taxes you withheld from employee wages to the IRS. You must file Form W-2 for each employee that you had during the calendar year.

Use information from your payroll to fill out Forms W-2. Send a copy of Form W-2 to each employee and the Social Security Administration (SSA) each year. And, keep a copy of Form W-2 for your records.

Forms W-2 are due to your employees and the SSA by January 31 each year. Do not fill out Form W-2 for independent contractors.

2. Form W-3

Form W-3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements, summarizes information from Forms W-2. Send Form W-3 along with Forms W-2 to the SSA. Do not send Form W-3 to your employees.

Form W-3 information like total compensation, taxes, Medicare wages, Social Security wages, and federal income tax withheld should match your Forms W-2.

The deadline for Form W-3 is also January 31. You can file Form W-3 electronically or mail it to the SSA.

3. Form 940

Form 940, Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Tax Return, is an annual tax form for reporting your FUTA (Federal Unemployment Tax Act) liability to the IRS.

Most employers pay FUTA. However, some tax-exempt organizations do not need to file Form 940 or pay FUTA tax.

Do not withhold FUTA taxes from employee wages.

File Form 940 if either of the following is true:

  • You paid wages of at least $1,500 to any employee during the standard calendar year
  • You had an employee (temporary, part-time, or full-time) work anytime during 20 or more weeks

File Form 940 once per year to report FUTA payments. File Form 940 online or mail it to the IRS. Use Form 940 Schedule A to help determine your FUTA taxes on Form 940.

The due date for Form 940 is January 31 each year.

4. Form 941

Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return, is the form employers use to report payroll taxes and employee wages. This form reports federal income and FICA taxes (Social Security and Medicare) to the IRS each quarter.

You must file Form 941 unless you filed a final return, are a seasonal employer, or employ household (e.g., nanny taxes) or employ farm employees (e.g., Form 943).

Information you report on Form 941 includes:

  • Wages paid to employees
  • Reported tips
  • Federal income taxes withheld
  • Social Security and Medicare taxes (employee and employer portions)
  • Additional taxes withheld
  • Adjustments to Social Security and Medicare taxes, sick pay, tips, and group-term life insurance

It’s important to accurately fill out Form 941. The IRS compares your quarterly Forms 941 to your annual Form W-3 for accuracy.

Because Form 941 is a quarterly form, it has multiple due dates. File a new Form 941 every quarter. Form 941 due dates for each quarter include:

  • April 30 for Quarter 1 (January 1 – March 31)
  • July 31 for Quarter 2 (April 1 – June 30)
  • October 31 for Quarter 3 (July 1 – September 30)
  • January 31 for Quarter 4 (October 1 – December 31)

5. Form 944

Form 944, Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return, is for smaller businesses that report federal income taxes and FICA taxes annually, rather than quarterly.

Even though most businesses need to file a quarterly Form 941, some businesses may need to file Form 944 instead. The IRS will notify you if you qualify.

Businesses qualified to file Form 944 instead of Form 941 are businesses whose annual liability for Social Security tax, Medicare tax, and federal income taxes liability totals $1,000 or less. And, some new employers can file Form 944. Again, the IRS will notify you if you must file Form 944.

If you employ household or agricultural employees or the IRS did not notify you, you cannot file Form 944.

The due date for filing Form 944 is January 31.

6. Form 1095-B

Use Form 1095-B to report employee health coverage.

If you offer your employees a self-insured health plan, file Form 1095-B. Self-insured health plans are health insurance plans your business operates versus purchasing coverage from an insurer. Many larger employers have self-insured health coverage.

File Form 1095-B for each full-time, covered employee. Send a copy to both your employee and the IRS. And, keep a copy for your records for at least three years.

Mail Form 1095-B to employees by January 31. Mail a completed Form 1095-B to the IRS by February 28. If you opt to electronically file Form 1095-B with the IRS, you must e-File by March 31.

7. Form 1094-B

Form 1094-B, Transmittal of Health Coverage Information Returns, is a form that summarizes Form 1095-B. Similar to the purpose of Form W-3, Form 1094-B outlines the information from Forms 1095-B, including the health insurance you offer employees.

Do not send Form 1094-B to employees. Send or e-File Form 1094-B along with Form 1095-B. The deadline for Form 1094-B is the same as Form 1095-B.

8. Form 1095-C

Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Insurance, provides your employees with health care coverage information. And, it lets employees know whether or not they were covered.

Applicable large employers (ALEs) must file Form 1095-C. Applicable large employers are businesses that employ at least 50 full-time equivalent employees. ALEs must complete a 1095-C form for all full-time employees, regardless of whether or not they had coverage.

Send Form 1095-C to your employees by January 31. Mail Form 1095-C to the IRS by February 28. The due date for electronically filing Form 1095-C is March 31.

9. Form 1094-C

You must send Form 1094-C, Transmittal of Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Information Returns, along with Form 1095-C to the IRS. Form 1094-C is a transmittal form summarizing information from Form 1095-C.

Do not send Form 1094-C to your employees. Mail Form 1094-C to the IRS by February 28 or e-File your form by March 31.

Have more questions about payroll forms?

Learn more about the forms employers need to file, find out what forms to collect from employees, and get a checklist of the forms you need to handle when you download our free guide.

Additional payroll forms

You do not need to send all payroll forms to the IRS. However, you still need to keep them in your records. Review additional payroll tax forms that your employees need to fill out below.

Form W-4

Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Certificate, determines the amount of federal income tax to withhold from an employee’s wages. When you hire a new employee, have them fill out Form W-4.

Form W-4 asks for the employee’s information, such as their name, Social Security number, address, and marital status. And, the form asks for the employee’s withholding adjustments, such as claiming dependents.

Other forms

Although the nine forms above are the most common payroll tax forms, there are other forms your small business may need to use, too. The IRS provides an extended list of small business tax forms along with instructions.

Check out the IRS’s website for additional forms. Be sure to file all necessary forms by their due dates to avoid penalties.

Your state might also require you or your employees to fill out state-specific payroll forms, such as a state W-4 form. Check with your state for more information.

Do you need an easy way to keep track of your small business payroll? Patriot’s online payroll software lets you do your payroll in three simple steps. What are you waiting for? Get started with your self-guided demo today!

This article is updated from its original publication date of 12/9/2015.

This is not intended as legal advice; for more information, please click here.

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