IRS Lookback Periods and Deposit Schedule Guide

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 941 is the Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return. It’s used by employers to report tax withholding amounts for estimated income tax payments, employer payments, and FICA taxes, more commonly known as Social Security and Medicare. If you go out of business or stop paying wages, you must file a final return. To tell the IRS that a particular Form 941 is your final return, check the box on line 17 and enter the final date you paid wages in the space provided.

Semi-weekly depositor

You can’t use your PTIN in place of the EIN of the tax preparation firm. A paid preparer must sign Form 941 and provide the information in the Paid Preparer Use Only section of Part 5 if the preparer was paid to prepare Form 941 and isn’t an employee of the filing entity. Paid preparers must sign paper returns with a manual signature.

How To File Form 941 Online vs. Paper Filing

Many forms and instructions discussed in these instructions have Spanish-language versions available for employers and employees. Some examples include Form 941 (sp), Form 944 (sp), Form SS-4 (sp), Form W-4 (sp), and Form W-9 (sp). Although these instructions don’t reference Spanish-language forms and instructions in each instance that one is available, you can see Pub. 15 (sp) and go to to determine if a Spanish-language version is available. The COVID-19 related credit for qualified sick and family leave wages is limited to leave taken after March 31, 2020, and before October 1, 2021, and may no longer be claimed on Form 941.

Time and Attendance

Your deposit schedule isn’t determined by how often you pay your employees. Your deposit schedule depends on the total tax liability you reported on Form 941 during the previous 4-quarter lookback period (July 1 of the second preceding calendar year through June 30 of the preceding calendar year). If you filed Form 944 in either 2022 or 2023, your lookback period is the 2022 calendar year.

Additional Resources and Tools for Filing Form 941

You should always consult your legal, accounting, or other professional for assistance related to your specific circumstances. If you have someone else prepare Form 941 on your company’s behalf, the preparer must fill out the Paid Preparer Use Only section. This section includes the preparer’s name, signature, firm’s name, address, phone number, EIN, and date. Your preparer must also check off whether they’re self-employed. You must complete all 3 pages of Form 941 and sign on Page 3.

  1. So it’s important to have a handle on how it works to avoid any unnecessary attention from Uncle Sam.
  2. To notify employees about the EIC, you must give the employees, except for employees in American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the CNMI, and the USVI, one of the following items.
  3. You may be eligible to apply for an installment agreement online if you can’t pay the full amount of tax you owe when you file your return.
  4. Section 6109 requires you to provide your identification number.
  5. These deposit due dates often are different from the filing due dates of tax returns.

See Box 1—Wages, tips, other compensation in the General Instructions for Forms W-2 and W-3 for details. Also include sick pay paid by a third party that isn’t your agent (for example, an insurance company) if you were given timely notice of the payments and the third party transferred liability for the employer’s taxes to you. The IRS uses two different sets of deposit rules to determine when businesses must deposit their social security, Medicare, and withheld federal income taxes. These schedules tell you when a deposit is due after you have a payday. Don’t use Form 941 to report backup withholding or income tax withholding on nonpayroll payments such as pensions, annuities, and gambling winnings.

What’s your lookback period if you file Form 944?

You will withhold based on the number of withholding allowances listed. Use the federal withholding tables starting on page 39 of Circular E, the Employer’s Tax Guide (See Resources). Everyone who is engaged in a trade or business that makes certain types of reportable payments must report the payment to the IRS.

On Form W-3 (PR), “Other EIN used this year” is reported in box f. Filing a Form 941 with an incorrect EIN or using another business’s EIN may result in penalties and delays in processing your return. If any due date for filing falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, you may file your return on the next business day. lisa baca bookkeeping If you filed electronically, don’t file a paper Form 941. For more information about filing Form 941 electronically, see Electronic filing and payment, earlier. If none of these exceptions apply and you haven’t filed a final return, you must file Form 941 each quarter even if you didn’t pay wages during the quarter.

You must submit a written request or call the IRS to exercise this option. The amounts entered on line 16 are a summary of your monthly tax liability, not a summary of deposits you made. If you don’t properly report your liabilities when required or if you’re a semiweekly schedule depositor and enter your liabilities on line 16 instead of on Schedule B (Form 941), you may be assessed an “averaged” FTD penalty. However, employers that pay qualified sick and family leave wages in 2024 for leave taken after March 31, 2020, and before October 1, 2021, are eligible to claim a credit for qualified sick and family leave wages in 2024. Filing a Form 941-X before filing a Form 941 for the quarter may result in errors or delays in processing your Form 941-X. IRS Form 941 is a tax form from the Internal Revenue Service.

One authorized signer from above must sign Form 941 in the box next to “Sign your name here.” The signer must also print their name and title (e.g., president) and include the date and phone number. If you discover an error on a previously filed Form 941 or need to amend a Form 941, you would correct using Form 941-X, Adjusted Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return or Claim for Refund. Impact on your credit may vary, as credit scores are independently determined by credit bureaus based on a number of factors including the financial decisions you make with other financial services organizations. Here’s a step-by-step guide and instructions for filing IRS Form 941. This may influence which products we review and write about (and where those products appear on the site), but it in no way affects our recommendations or advice, which are grounded in thousands of hours of research. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services.

Most businesses are required to file Form 941 quarterly, with a few exceptions. Seasonal businesses only need to file for the quarters in which they are operating. Businesses that hire farm workers or household employees, such as a maid, also don’t need to file Form 941 (but do need to file Schedule H from Form 1040).

You can pay any amount due with Form 941, or you can deposit the payment if the total tax amount on line 12 is less than $2,500. You can also deposit if line 12 on last quarter’s form 941 was less than $2,500 and you didn’t have a $100,000 next-day deposit obligation during the current quarter. Otherwise, you must make deposits according to your deposit schedule, monthly or semi-weekly. Adjusting tax liability for the qualified small business payroll tax credit for increasing research activities (line 11).

Generally, employers must report wages, tips and other compensation paid to an employee by filing the required Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return. Most employers must also file Form 940, Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Tax Return, to report the wages paid subject to FUTA, and to compute the tax. All employment taxes, including FUTA, must be deposited timely and by the required method. Generally, as an employer, you’re responsible to ensure that tax returns are filed and deposits and payments are made, even if you contract with a third party to perform these acts. You remain responsible if the third party fails to perform any required action.

See the instructions for line 8 for an adjustment that you may need to make on Form 941 for sick pay. If you operate a business and have employees working for you, then you likely need to file IRS Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return, four times per year. As an employer, you are responsible for withholding federal income tax and other payroll taxes from each employee’s paycheck and remitting it to the IRS.

Once you accumulate at least $100,000 in a deposit period, stop accumulating at the end of that day and start a new accumulation the following day. The IRS website includes a page explaining where to file your taxes for Form 941, along with mailing addresses. You can view, download, or print most of the forms, instructions, and publications you may need at Otherwise, you can go to to place an order and have them mailed to you.

In addition, if the employer used a paid preparer to complete the form, the preparer must enter their information in Part Five. This includes name, Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN), firm name, EIN of the preparer or the firm, address, and phone number. Once you account for these items, you’ll end up with a total amount of money you will need to pay to cover your payroll tax responsibilities for the quarter. The first section asks for basic information about your business, as well as the quarter you’re filing for. In this section, you’ll provide your business tax ID number, name and trade name (if applicable) and address.

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