How and When to File Form 941 for Payroll Taxes

Form 941 - Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Form

How to File Form 941 for Payroll Taxes
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Form 941 is an important payroll tax form that every employer needs to know about. And it's due four times a year! 

This form is due at the end of April, July, October, and January. But there's a lot more to know about this important payroll form.

  • What is Form 941? 
  • How do I complete this form?
  • How and when do I submit it? 
  • How do I pay taxes due on this form? 

Let's get started: 

Why must my business submit form 941 to the IRS? 

You have been paying employees, and you've been withholding federal income taxes and Social Security/Medicare taxes. Now you must report on what you have been withholding, and pay those amounts, plus your business' required payments, to the IRS. 

What is Form 941 - Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Form

Form 941 is the form used by employers to report withholding amounts for federal income taxes and FICA taxes (Social Security and Medicare), employer payments for these withholding amounts, and any amounts due to the IRS.

Form 941 includes quarterly calculations and reports:

Reminders for IRS Form 941

  • Form 941 includes amounts withheld from employee pay for the additional Medicare tax for high-income individuals.
  • A reminder that the current Social Security rate is 6.2% each for employees and employer. The Social Security wage limit changes each year. This limit is the maximum annual pay subject to Social Security tax. The Medicare tax rate is 1.45% each for employees and employer, unchanged from 2013. There is no wage base for Medicare tax.
  • Effective for tax periods beginning after December 31, 2013, the credit for COBRA premium assistance payments can't be claimed on Form 941.

    Form 941 Due Dates 

    Form 941 is due on a quarterly basis, at the end of the month following the end of the quarter, on the following schedule:

    • For example, for the first quarter of 2018, ending March 31, submit by April 30
    • For the second quarter, ending June 30, submit by July 31
    • For the third quarter, ending September 30, submit by October 31
    • For the fourth quarter, ending December 31, submit by January 31, 2019.

    If the due date falls on a weekend day or holiday, the due date is the next business day. For example, if the July 31 due date is a Saturday for that year, the due date for that payment would be Monday, August 2.

    If you have made your payroll tax deposits for the quarter completely and on time, you have 10 more days after the due date above to file form 941 for the quarter. Here are the filing dates if you meet the criteria for the 10-day extension:

    • For the first quarter, ending March 30, submit by May 10. 
    • For the second quarter, ending June 30, submit by August 10.
    • For the third quarter, ending September 30, submit by November 10.
    • For the fourth quarter, ending December 31, submit by February 10.

    How to Submit Form 941

    Form 941 may be submitted electronically using Federal E-file. You can E-file Form 941 and pay any balance due electronically by using tax preparation software or a tax professional. Read more about how to file Form 941.

    How to complete Form 941

    Form 941 calculations include totals for:

    • Number of employees and total pay for the period being reported
    • Amounts withheld from pay of employees for the period
    • Taxable Social Security and Medicare wages for the period
    • Calculation of total Social Security and Medicare wages
    • Adjustments for sick pay, tips, group-term life insurance, and other

    The form requires a calculation of the total taxes and the total deposits made during the period. The difference between the total taxes due and the total deposits is the amount still owed that must be paid.

    Read more about the specific steps required to complete Form 941.

    You can find more about Form 941, including information about how to prepare this return, when it must be submitted, and how to submit corrections: More Information on Form 941.

    Paying Taxes with Form 941

    If you have paid the complete amount of your payroll taxes during the months covered by this form, you should see "$0" due. That's good. But what if you owe taxes? 

    Just to be clear, you can't wait until you file Form 941 and pay all taxes for the quarter at that time. You must make either monthly or semi-weekly deposits, depending on the amount owed. 

    If you were required to make deposits, you may have a small balance due. Make that deposit by EFT (using the IRS EFTPS system).

    Don't pay your payroll tax deposits with your Form 941! The IRS says, "If you’re required to make deposits and instead pay the taxes with Form 941, you may be subject to a penalty."