Farms and ranches have different requirements come tax time (and all year round), so we’ve developed some helpful instructions to make sure you get your IRS Form 943 right.
What is Form 943?
Form 943, Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return for Agricultural Employees, is used to report federal income tax, Social Security and Medicare Tax, as well as any Additional Medicare Tax withheld and paid for the year. It’s designed to be used in place — or in addition to Form 941 — for businesses that routinely pay farm workers.
Form 943 is only used by companies that employ and pay farmworkers wages by cash, checks, or money orders. Non-cash wages are food and lodging, or payment for services other than farm work.
There are two tests to determine whether a Form 943 needs to be filed:
- Do you pay employee cash wages to an employee of at least $150 during the calendar year? This test needs to be applied to each farmworker that you employ.
- In the previous calendar year, are the total cash and non-cash wages paid to all farmworkers employed by your business at least $2,500?
Even if you do not meet the $2,500 test, the $150 test for each employee still holds. Likewise, if you do not pay any individual more than $150 in cash, but your cumulative total for the year is at least $2,500, you will still need to file Form 943.
Form 943 vs. Form 941?
Form 941 is the annual return filed by most businesses with nonfarm workers. Please keep in mind that you may need to file both forms if you employ both farm and nonfarm workers (and meet the wage-based test described above).
What do you need to fill out Form 943?
To complete Form 943, you’ll want to have the following information handy:
- A printable Form 943 PDF
- The number of farmworkers who received payment from your business in the calendar year. Do not include employees that did not receive any payment.
- The amount of cash wages that have been paid throughout the year
- Federal income tax withheld from an employee’s wages
- The totals of both the employer’s and the employee’s portion of Social Security and Medicare taxes withheld from the employee’s wages
- Any additional Medicare taxes withheld from an employee’s wages
- Current year’s adjustments to Social Security and Medicare taxes for fractions of cents, sick pay, tips, and group-term life insurance
- Your EIN and other basic business information
When should it be filed?
Form 943 must be filed annually by January 31. However, if taxes have been deposited throughout the tax year, farms and ranches have an additional 10 days to file. It’s important to note that Form 943 must be reconciled with totals filed on Form W-2 and W-3.
Once you file your first Form 943, you must continue to every year, unless your business closes. If your business closes, you will need to file a final return.
All taxes must be deposited when they are due, and business owners will be notified at the beginning of the year, whether they are monthly or semiweekly depositors. If you have tax liability less than $2,500 for the entire calendar year, you can pay the tax owed when you file Form 943.
If you use payroll software or a payroll service, Form 943 should be completed for you.
But please speak to your payroll provider to ensure Form 943 is being filed. As the business owner, you are ultimately responsible for the accurate and timely filing of the form as well as on-time payment of all taxes owed by the due date specified by the IRS. And you may want to choose payroll software specialized for agribusinesses.
Definition of agricultural employees
According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, an agricultural employee is someone who engages in farming or ranching, or whose job is performed in conjunction with farming operations. If you’re unsure whether an employee should be classified as a farm worker, please ask your tax professional for guidance.
Instructions for filling out Form 943
Read on for a line-by-line explanation of all the details and calculations that are included in Form 943. Please note that these instructions are for the 2018 form, which may vary from the 2019 version.
- Line 1 is where you enter the total number of agricultural employees during the pay period that included March 12, 2018. Only include employees that were paid during this period.
- Enter total cash wages subject to Social Security Tax. Do not report any wages over $128,400 for any individual employee.
- Calculate Social Security Tax due by multiplying the total in Line 2 x 12.4%.
- Enter the total cash wages that are subject to Medicare Tax paid to employees for farm work during the calendar year. There is no upper limit on Medicare wages.
- Multiply the total on Line 4 x 2.9% to obtain the total Medicare Tax due and enter it on this line.
- If you’ve paid any farm worker more than $200,000 in wages for the calendar year, you will need to begin to withhold Additional Medicare Tax. This box is where you would enter the total wages subject to additional tax.
- Calculate the Additional Medicare Tax by multiplying Line 6 x 0.9% and enter it on this line. There is no matching requirement for employers for Additional Medicare Tax.
- Enter the amount of federal income tax withheld from cash wages that you paid your employees.
- Enter your total taxes before adjustments by adding Lines 3, 5, 7, and 8.
- Enter any tax adjustments on this line including adjustments for rounding fractions of cents, adjustments for sick pay, and uncollected employee share of Social Security and Medicare taxes on third-party sick pay or group-term life insurance premiums.
- Enter total taxes after adjustments by combining the totals from Lines 9 and 10.
- If your business qualifies for a tax credit and you enter an amount on Line 12, you will need to fill out Form 8974 and attach it to the completed Form 943.
- Enter your total taxes after any adjustments or credits by subtracting Line 12 from Line 11.
- Enter any deposits made during the calendar year, including any overpayments made.
- If Line 13 is more than Line 14, enter your balance due here.
- If Line 14 is more than Line 13, enter the difference on this line and check if you want the overpayment applied to the next return, or if you wish to have a refund sent to you.
Next, you can designate a third-party representative to discuss the return with the IRS. You’ll then sign the form and file it with the IRS. They recommend electronic filing, though paper returns are accepted as well.
And that’s it! If you use payroll software or services, this should all be done automatically. If you’re processing the form manually, the information you need should be easily accessible from your payroll journal. For additional more detailed instructions for Form 943, please visit IRS.gov.