Get the full rundown of current deadlines for filing and paying Federal payroll taxes, including FICA taxes, FUTA, taxes, Form 941, and more.
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2019 Payroll Tax Forms, Filing Deadlines (and Potential Penalties!)

The volume of payroll forms that employers need to process and file can be intimidating. But getting a handle them is important since the IRS has little patience with those that file or deposit late.

 

To keep you organized and aware of all those tax deadlines, here’s a look at the most common forms that employers need to file regularly, along with the due date of each, and any penalties incurred should you file late, or not at all.

 

Mark Your Calendars!

Before diving into all the forms, here’s a quick list of the filing deadlines you should keep top of mind throughout 2019. Do yourself a favor and add them to your calendar!

 

  • January 31: Annual tax employer tax returns
  • January 31: Annual federal tax return
  • January 31: Quarterly employer tax returns for the fourth quarter of the previous year
  • January 31: Employees’ and contractors’ wage and income statements
  • April 30:  Quarterly employer tax returns for the first quarter
  • July 31: Quarterly employer tax returns for the second quarter
  • October 31: Quarterly employer tax returns for the third quarter

 

In addition to these recurring tax filings, we’ll also go over the timelines for tax forms that need to be filled out at various points in an employees’ lifecycle (typically the beginning). Also keep in mind that many states require tax returns that parallel the federal requirements we outline here.

 

With all that said, here’s a closer look at what you’re on the hook for:

 

Recurring Payroll Tax Forms

 

Form 940 – Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Tax Return

What’s it for? Form 940 is used to report federal unemployment taxes (FUTA) paid throughout the year.  As an employer, you are required by law to pay a percentage of their employee’s wages for federal unemployment taxes until they reach $7,000 in taxable wages for the year. FUTA is paid solely by the employer.

 

While employers often pay this quarterly, if you have less than $500 in FUTA tax liability for the year, you can deposit the amount due on January 31st after the tax year. See more about Form 940.

 

Filing deadline: January 31st annually, but if all deposits have been made on a timely basis, employers have an additional 10 days to file.

 

Can I file an extension? You may request an extension for up to 90 days with the IRS. Keep in mind that all taxes due must be paid — or an additional penalty will be assessed — whether an extension has been requested or not.

 

If you wish to submit a request for an extension, it must:

 

  1. be in writing
  2. provide a reason for the request,
  3. be signed by the employer or authorized agent
  4. be properly addressed to an IRS officer

 

Penalties for violation: Employers who file their 940 late are subject to a Failure to File penalty. If a deposit is made late, or not at all, a penalty between 2% to 15% of the amount of tax due will also be assessed.

 

 

Form 941 – Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return

What’s it for? Form 941 is used to report federal income tax withheld from employees as well as Social Security tax and Medicare tax for the quarter. See more about Form 941.

 

Filing deadline: 

 

  • April 30th for the first quarter
  • July 31st for the second quarter
  • October 31st for the third quarter
  • January 31st for the fourth quarter

 

Can I file an extension? The IRS does not offer an extension for Form 941.

 

Penalties for violation: A 5% penalty will be assessed for each month or partial month that Form 941 is filed late. If the deposit is late, you’ll also be assessed a penalty between 2% to 15% of the tax due. The IRS also tacks on a 0.5% tax for each month or partial month you pay the tax late.

 

 

Form 943 – Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return for Agricultural Employees

What’s it for? Form 943 is used by employers that paid wages to farmworkers — if the wages paid were subject to federal income tax withholding, Social Security, and Medicare Taxes. It would substitute for a 941, or can be used in addition to a 941 if both regular and agricultural employees were paid during the year. See more about Form 943.

 

Filing deadline: January 31st annually. If all tax deposits are up to date, you have an additional 10 days to file.

 

Can I file an extension? The IRS does not offer an extension for Form 943.

 

Penalties for violation: A Failure to File penalty can be assessed to any employer who files late. In addition, a penalty between 2% to 15% can be assessed to any business that fails to file their file their 943 by the due date.

 

 

Form 944 – Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return

What’s it for? Form 944 is designed for small businesses that have payroll tax liability (including social security, Medicare, and federal income taxes) of less than $1,000 annually. This is fairly rare and will likely not apply to most businesses. For those that can use this form, you will file and pay these taxes only once a year instead of every quarter. See more about Form 944.

 

Filing Deadline: January 31st annually, but if tax deposits are up to date, you have an additional 10 days to file.

 

Can I file an extension? The IRS does not offer an extension for Form 944.

 

Penalties for violation: Like a 943, those filing their 944 late will be assessed a Failure to File penalty. If your tax liability for the year is less than $2,500, you can pay the tax owed when filing the form. If you’re late with the payment, the penalties range from between 2% to 15%.

 

Form 945 – Annual Return of Withheld Federal Income Tax

What’s it for? You will rarely use 945 as an employer since it is used to report federal income tax withheld from non-payroll payments made, but there are situations when it must be filed.

 

These can include:

 

  • Pensions (including distributions from tax-favored retirement plans, for example, section 401(k), section 403(b), and governmental section 457(b) plans), and annuities
  • Military retirement
  • Gambling winnings
  • Indian gaming profits
  • Voluntary withholding on certain government payments
  • Backup withholding

 

Filing deadline: January 31st annually. If tax deposits have all been made, you’ll have an extra 10 days to file.

 

Can I file an extension? The IRS does not offer an extension for Form 945.

 

Penalties for violation: Failure to File penalties will be assessed and late or missing deposits will be penalized between 2% and 15% of taxes owed.

 

 

Form W-2 – Wage and Tax Statement

What’s it for? A W-2 reports wage and salary information as well as federal income tax, state and local income tax (if applicable), Social Security, and Medicare taxes withheld. They must be provided to all of your employees every year and filed with the Social Security Administration (SSA). See more about Form W-2.

 

Filing deadline: January 31st. This is the deadline for filing Copy A of the W-2 forms with the Social Security Administration and for recipients to receive a copy of their W-2s. If mailed, they must have a January 31 postmark.

 

Can I file an extension? If you cannot prepare your W-2s by January 31st, you may send a request for an extension to the IRS in writing explaining your reasons for being unable to supply the forms by the deadline. The IRS is under no obligation to grant your request for an extension.

 

Penalties for violation: Penalties are steep if W-2s are not filed on time. The IRS can assess an initial penalty of $50 per late W-2, and the fines get more complicated and costly as time goes by:

 

  • Not more than 30 days late: $50 per return or statement – $545,500 maximum
  • 31 days late – August 1: $100 per return or statement – $1,637,500 maximum
  • After August 1 or not filed at all: $270 per return or statement – $3,275,500 maximum
  • Intentional disregard: $540 per return or statement – no limitation

 

Form W-3 – Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements

What’s it for? Form W-3 is the form sent to the Social Security Administration with Copy A of your employee W-2 forms summarizing total earnings, Social Security Wages, Medicare wages, and federal and state withholding totals for each employee — along with the number of W-2 forms that are being filed. See more about Form W-3.

 

When should it be filed? January 31st with the Social Security Administration.

 

Can I file an extension? A 30-day extension is available. To file an extension, use Form 8809 – Application for Extension of Time to File Information Returns.

 

Penalties for violation: See Form W-2 penalties.

 

 

 

Form 1099-MISC – Miscellaneous Income

What’s it for? A 1099-MISC is used to report payments made to non-employees throughout the year. If you’ve paid a contractor more than $600 during the year, you will need to prepare and file 1099-MISC. See more about Form 1099.

 

Filing deadline: January 31st is the deadline for filing with the IRS (if using Box 7 to report non-employee compensation) and for contractors to receive their 1099-MISC. If mailed, the form needs to be postmarked by January 31.

 

Can I file an extension? You can file for a 30-day extension by using Form 8809 – Application for Extension of Time to File Information Returns. These requests are not automatically approved. If it is approved by the IRS, the extension will allow only a maximum of 30 days from the due date. The request must be postmarked no later than January 31 — preferably as soon as you are aware you will need an extension.

 

Penalties for Violation: If filed within 30 days of the deadline, the penalty is $50 per return. That goes up to $100 per return if filed later than 30 days after the deadline, but before August 1st. After August 1st, the penalty increases to $260 per return.

 

 

 

Form 1096 – Annual Summary and Transmittal of U.S. Information Returns

What’s it for? Employers that send 1099s will also provide Form 1096 summarizing the forms being submitted, including number of 1099s and total amount reported on them. Form 1096 is only required if paper filing. If filing electronically, it’s not needed. Form 1096 is also used with 1097, 1098, 3921, 5498, and W-2G forms.

 

Filing Deadline: January 31.

 

Can I file an extension? You can file for a 30-day extension by using Form 8809 – Application for Extension of Time to File Information Returns . Requests are not automatically approved. If it is approved by the IRS, the extension will allow only a maximum of 30 days from the due date. The request must be postmarked no later than January 31 — preferably as soon as you are aware you will need an extension.

 

Penalties for Violation:  If filed within 30 days of the deadline, the penalty is $50 per return. That goes up to $100 per return if filed later than 30 days after the deadline, but before August 1st. After August 1st, the penalty increases to $260 per return.

 

 

Tax Forms Based on Employees’ Lifecycle

 

I-9 – Employment Eligibility Verification

What’s it for?: An I-9 is used to verify the identity and employment authorization for anyone hired to work in the United States. All US employers are required to have every new hire fill out this form — regardless of citizenship status.

 

Filing deadline: Section 1 must be filled out the first day of employment. Section 2 must be filled out within three days of employment.

 

Penalties for violation: I-9 audits are routinely done by US Citizenship and Immigration Services, either randomly or if a specific complaint has been received. If you get a Notice of Inspection (NOI), you must provide supporting documentation to inspectors to prove that an I-9 has been completed correctly and has not been falsified.

 

Once USCIS completes their inspection, they’ll share the results. These can include following up with a compliance letter (that’s good) or a Notice of Suspect Documents, Notice of Discrepancies, a Warning Notice, or Notice of Intent to Fine. Fines start at $216 and go up to $2,156 for a first violation and escalate if additional violations are found.

 

Form W-4 – Employee Withholding Allowance Certificate

What’s it for? A W-4 lets you know how much federal income tax should be withheld from an employee’s paycheck. The paperwork includes a worksheet that helps employees calculate what their exemptions should be.

 

W-4s should be retained onsite in a file for a minimum of four years.

 

Due Date: A new employee should fill out a W-4 on their first day of employment, but no later than the end of their first week of employment.

 

Penalties for Violation: When there is no valid W-4 on file, an employer is required to assume that the employee files as single with zero allowances. Employers are not assessed a penalty if the information on a W-4 is false, but employees can be subject to $500 penalty if the information on a W-4 is found to be invalid.

 

Form W-9 – Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification

What’s it for? Any business that pays an independent contractor $600 or more in a year is required to supply that payment information to the IRS using a 1099-MISC. In order to properly process a 1099-MISC, business owners use the information supplied by the contractor on their W-9 including name, tax ID number, or Social Security number.

 

Filing deadline: A completed W-9 should ideally be received by an employer prior to using the services of that contractor, but it could also be submitted with their first invoice.

 

Penalties for violation: If a contractor does not provide you with a completed W-9, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your business remains in compliance with IRS regulations.

 

  1. Repeat your request to the contractor and explain the potential consequences — including a $50 fee assessed by the IRS for not responding.
  2. If there is still no response, initiate backup withholding at 24%, with the funds going to the IRS. If the contractor later responds, you can stop backup withholding.
  3. In the meantime, you must also continue to try at least three times in the next two years (documenting each attempt) to get their information to not face a penalty from the IRS.
  4. Make sure that you still file a 1099-MISC form at year end, leaving the TIN number field blank.

 

Form SS-8 – Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding

What’s it for? Form SS-8 is used to help determine the status of a current worker in order to determine if federal employment taxes and income tax withholding is required.

 

When should it be filed? There is no deadline for filing Form SS-8.

 

Penalties for violation: This is a voluntary form with no deadlines or penalties assessed.

 

Many small business owners choose to turn to a payroll service provider or software to handle the complex payroll taxes and all of the related forms. But, whether the employer chooses to process payroll themselves or enlist the help of outside services, the business owner is ultimately responsible for ensuring that timely deposits are made and the appropriate forms filed by their due date. Reach out to your accountant or your payroll provider to ensure everything is being taken care of — it will give you peace of mind and help you get a good handle on payroll tax deadlines and penalties.

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