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2020 Payroll Tax Calendar

According to SCORE, the majority of small business owners spend more than 41 hours on tax preparation each year. And this is on top of the nearly 40 hours per month that you spend handling payroll and HR-related tasks.

 

To help make the most of that time, smooth out the process, and make sure you don’t miss any deadlines, we’ve put together this federal payroll tax calendar with everything you need to make sure you get tax filings and payments handled on time. Remember that these dates can vary year to year if they fall on a weekend day or holiday. For example, because February 15, 2020 is a Saturday that tax payment is due on Monday, February 17.

 

Here’s an overview of the payroll-related duties you should add to your calendar in 2020:

 

  • January 31: Quarterly filings for Q4 2019, plus all your year-end filings
  • April 30: Quarterly filings for Q1 2020
  • July 31: Quarterly filings for Q2 2020
  • November 2: Quarterly filings for Q3 2020
  • Approximately the 15th of each month: Payroll tax payments for the previous month

If it seems like January is the busiest month for payroll taxes, you’re right. It’s not a bad idea to block off some time on your calendar to get all those forms done (or make sure your accountant has everything they’ll need to do it for you).

 

January 15, 2020 payroll tax payments

What’s due: If you make monthly payroll tax payments, your deposit for December is due.

 

  • These funds are required to be paid via electronic funds transfer to the IRS and include federal income tax withheld and both the employer and employee portion of Social Security and Medicare taxes.
  • They are paid either monthly or semi-weekly and you must determine which schedule you’ll use at the beginning of the year.
  • Note that all new employers start out as monthly depositors.

 

January 31, 2020 payroll tax filings

Quarterly deadlines:

What’s due: Your must send in your quarterly employer’s tax return (typically filed via Form 941). It breaks break down employee wage and tax information including how much you’ve withheld from your staffers’ paychecks, as well as how much you’re sending in for the employer portion of FICA.

 

You should file Form 941 by the January 31 deadline you withhold more than $1,000 annually in Social Security, Medicare, and federal income taxes from your employees’ wages. Please note:

 

  • You’ll report withholding amounts from employee paychecks as well as detailing your payments for the previous three months — in this case, the fourth quarter that ended December 31, 2019.
  • Remember that after you file your first Form 941, you must file a return for each quarter, even if you have no taxes to report, unless you filed a final return or meet one of the IRS exceptions.
  • What you’ll need: Form 941

 

 

Form 941 vs. Form 944

There are a few exceptions when a small business should file different forms. For example, Form 943 should be filed quarterly for farm payroll. The most common exception is for the smallest of employers, who should file Form 944 instead of Form 941:

 

  • Form 944 is designed for small businesses that have a payroll tax liability (including Social Security, Medicare, and federal income taxes) of less than $1,000 annually.
  • This is fairly rare and will not apply to most companies, but allows small businesses that have few (or no) full-time employees to file and pay their employment taxes annually.
  • What you’ll need: Form 944

 

 

Annual deadlines

What’s due: Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment Tax Return: Form 940

You’ll need to report the federal unemployment taxes (FUTA) you paid throughout the year.  Though this return is only filed annually, employers are responsible for depositing taxes owed on a quarterly basis, with all deposits made using electronic funds transfer.

 

  • If you have less than $500 in FUTA tax liability for the year, you can send in the form and your annual deposit on January 31.
  • If your business is new and you haven’t filed your first 940 yet, the IRS will automatically enroll you when you apply for your EIN.
  • Don’t forget, most employers are also required to pay state unemployment tax (SUTA).
  • What you’ll need: Form 940

 

 

What’s due: Annual wage reporting for employees: W-2s and W-3s

All W-2 forms showing prior year wages and taxes for your employees must be submitted to the Social Security Administration (SSA) by January 31, 2020.

 

  • Employees must also receive their W-2s by this date to complete their own taxes.
  • If you don’t file your W-2s electronically with the SSA, you’ll need to include a Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements form.
  • What you’ll need: Form W-3

 

 

What’s due: Reporting payments to non-employees: 1099-MISC

All 1099s are due to the IRS by January 31, along with your 1099-MISC reporting the payments you made to non-employees.

 

  • Contractors must also receive their 1099s by this date to complete their taxes.
  • What you’ll need: Form 1099-MISC

 

 

If you are filing paper 1099s with the IRS, you’ll need to submit your Annual Summary and Transmittal of US Information Return to summarize and accompany them.

 

 

 

What’s due: Annual wages reporting for farm workers: Form 943

 

  • If you pay wages to farmworkers that are subject to federal income or FICA taxes, you’ll need to report them on your Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return for Agricultural Employees.
  • This form would be filed in place of a 941 if you only have agricultural workers — or in addition to it if your business has both regular employees and farm workers.
  • What form you’ll need: Form 943

 

February 17, 2020 payroll tax payments

What’s due: If you deposit monthly, your payroll tax deposit for January is due.

 

 

March 16, 2020 payroll tax payments

What’s due: If you deposit monthly, your payroll tax deposit for February is due.

 

 

April 15, 2020 payroll tax payments

What’s due: If you deposit monthly, your payroll tax deposit for March is due.

 

 

April 30, 2020 payroll tax filings

What’s due: Quarterly Federal Tax Form for the first quarter ending March 31, 2020.

 

  • You’ll report withholding amounts for federal income taxes and FICA from employee paychecks as well as your payments for those items.
  • You’ll be reporting taxes for the previous quarter.
  • What form you’ll need: Form 941

 

What’s due: Quarterly FUTA tax deposits may be due for the first quarter ending March 31, 2020.

 

  • Although Form 940 covers a calendar year, you may have to deposit your FUTA tax before you file your return.
  • If your FUTA tax payment is more than $500 for the calendar year, you must deposit at least one quarterly payment.
  • If your FUTA tax is $500 or less in a quarter, you will carry it over to the next quarter.
  • You’ll pay these funds via electronic funds transfer to the IRS.

 

May 15, 2020 payroll tax payments

What’s due: If you deposit monthly, your payroll tax deposit for April is due.

 

 

June 15, 2020 payroll tax payments

What’s due: If you deposit monthly, your payroll tax deposit for May is due.

 

 

July 15, 2020 payroll tax payments

What’s due: If you deposit monthly, your payroll tax deposit for June is due.

 

 

July 31, 2020 payroll tax filings

What’s due: Quarterly Federal Tax Form 941 for the second quarter ending June 30, 2020.

 

  • You’ll report withholding amounts for federal income taxes and FICA from employee paychecks as well as your payments for those items for the previous quarter.
  • What you’ll need: Form 941

 

What’s due: Quarterly FUTA tax deposits may be due for the first quarter ending June 30, 2020.

 

  • Although Form 940 covers a calendar year, you may have to deposit your FUTA tax before you file your return.
  • If your FUTA tax payment is more than $500 for the calendar year, you must deposit at least one quarterly payment.
  • If your FUTA tax is $500 or less in a quarter, you will carry it over to the next quarter.
  • You’ll pay these funds via electronic funds transfer to the IRS.

 

August 17, 2020 payroll tax payments

What’s due: If you deposit monthly, your payroll tax deposit for July is due.

 

 

September 16, 2020 payroll tax payments

What’s due: If you deposit monthly, your payroll tax deposit for August is due.

 

 

October 15, 2020 payroll tax filings

What’s due: If you deposit monthly, your payroll tax deposit for September is due.

 

 

November 2, 2020 payroll tax filings

What’s due: Quarterly Federal Tax Form 941 for the third quarter ending September 30, 2020.

 

  • Note that October 31, 2020, is a Saturday so the due date is on November 2, 2020.
  • You’ll report withholding amounts for federal income taxes and FICA from employee paychecks as well as your payments for those items for the quarter ending September 30, 2020.
  • What form you’ll need: Form 941

 

What’s due: Quarterly FUTA tax deposits may be due for the first quarter ending September 30, 2020

 

  • Although Form 940 covers a calendar year, you may have to deposit your FUTA tax before you file your return.
  • If your FUTA tax payment is more than $500 for the calendar year, you must deposit at least one quarterly payment.
  • If your FUTA tax is $500 or less in a quarter, you will carry it over to the next quarter.
  • You’ll pay these funds via electronic funds transfer to the IRS.

 

November 16, 2020 payroll tax payments

What’s due: If you deposit monthly, your payroll tax deposit for October is due.

 

 

December 16, 2020 payroll tax payments

What’s due: If you deposit monthly, your payroll tax deposit for November is due.

 

 

December 2020 best practices

December isn’t a busy filing time, but there are a few things you can do to get ready for the new year and make sure you don’t miss any tax deadlines.

 

  • Get your employee files organized including confirming EIN, Social Security numbers, mailing addresses, and other key employee data
  • Check for any changes in the Social Security Wage Base
  • Check for changes in 401(k) and any other applicable retirement plan limits
  • Schedule time to talk with your accountant
  • Research 401(k) providers if you’re thinking about adding this benefit
  • Carefully document your charitable donations and any entertaining expenses
  • Gather electronic versions of forms or print out anything you need to fill in and mail
  • Review how much time you’re spending on payroll and HR — and whether you’re making any mistakes. You may want to consider payroll outsourcing or choosing a new payroll provider. The end of the year is the best time to switch.

 

There are major penalties for missing or making mistakes with payroll taxes, so it’s important to not only send them on time but also ensure the deposit amount is correct and remitted in the proper way according to the receiving agency. Most states also collect payroll taxes on employee wages, so you’ll want to consult your state’s website to ensure you’re meeting those deadlines as well. If in doubt, consult an accountant or consider using a payroll service provider to take care of deducting, filing, and remitting payroll taxes for you.

 

To help keep these dates top of mind, we’ve created a downloadable calendar of key payroll tax deadlines by month that you can print and keep handy — and write in those state deadlines as you need to. In addition to this calendar, we’ve also put together a full list of payroll tax forms with links to downloadable PDFs.

 

Please note: this material is educational only. It is not meant to constitute tax or legal advice. Always contact a qualified tax professional or another financial legal advisor in your area for complete tax or legal advice.

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