IRS Tax Forms  
Publication 15 2001 Tax Year

Chapter 12
Filing Form 941

Each quarter, all employers who pay wages subject to income tax withholding (including withholding on sick pay and supplemental unemployment benefits) or social security and Medicare taxes must file Form 941, Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return. However, the following exceptions apply:

  1. Seasonal employers who no longer file for quarters when they regularly have no tax liability because they have paid no wages. To alert the IRS that you will not have to file a return for one or more quarters during the year, mark the Seasonal employer box above line 1 on Form 941. The IRS will mail two Forms 941 to the seasonal filer once a year after March 1. The preprinted label will not include the date the quarter ended. You must enter the date the quarter ended when you file the return. Generally, the IRS will not inquire about unfiled returns if at least one taxable return is filed each year. However, you must mark the Seasonal employer box on every Form 941 you file. Otherwise, the IRS will expect a return to be filed for each quarter.
  2. Household employers reporting social security and Medicare taxes and/or withheld income tax. If you are a sole proprietor and file Form 941 for business employees, you may include taxes for household employees on your Form 941. Otherwise, report social security and Medicare taxes and income tax withholding for household employees on Schedule H (Form 1040), Household Employment Taxes. See Pub. 926, Household Employer's Tax Guide, for more information.
  3. Employers reporting wages for employees in American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or Puerto Rico. If the employees are not subject to U.S. income tax withholding, use Form 941-SS. Employers in Puerto Rico use Form 941-PR.
  4. Agricultural employers reporting social security, Medicare, and withheld income taxes. Report these on Form 943, Employer's Annual Tax Return for Agricultural Employees.

Form 941 e-file. The Form 941 e-file program allows a taxpayer to electronically file Form 941 using a personal computer, modem, and commercial tax preparation software. Contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 or visit the IRS Web Site at for more information. See Pub. 1855 for technical specifications.

941TeleFile. You may be able to file Form 941 and pay any balance due by phone. If you receive TeleFile materials with your Form 941 package, check page TEL-1 of the 941TeleFile Instructions to see if you qualify for this method of filing. If you have questions related to filing Form 941 using TeleFile, call 1-800-829-8815. This phone number is for 941TeleFile information only and is not the number used to file the return.

Electronic and magnetic tape filing by reporting agents. Reporting agents filing Forms 941 for groups of taxpayers can file them electronically or on magnetic tape. See the reporting agent discussion in section 6 of Pub. 15-A, Employer's Supplemental Tax Guide, for more information.

Penalties. For each whole or part month a return is not filed when required (disregarding any extensions of the filing deadline), there is a penalty of 5% of the unpaid tax due with that return. The maximum penalty is 25% of the tax due. Also, for each whole or part month the tax is paid late (disregarding any extensions of the payment deadline), a penalty of 0.5% per month of the amount of tax generally applies. This penalty is 0.25% per month if an installment agreement is in effect. You must have filed your return on or before the due date of the return to qualify for the reduced penalty. The maximum for this penalty is also 25%. The penalties will not be charged if you have a reasonable cause for failing to file or pay.

Use of a reporting agent or other third-party payroll service provider does not relieve an employer of the responsibility to ensure that tax returns are filed and all taxes are paid or deposited correctly and on time.

Do not file more than one Form 941 per quarter. Employers with multiple locations or divisions must file only one Form 941 per quarter. Filing more than one return may result in processing delays and may require correspondence between you and the IRS. For information on making corrections to previously filed returns, see section 13.

Hints on filing. Do not report more than one calendar quarter on a return.

Use the preaddressed form mailed to you. If you do not have the form, get one from the IRS in time to file the return when due. If you use a form that is not preaddressed, show your name and EIN on it. Be sure they are exactly as they appeared on earlier returns. See the Instructions for Form 941 for information on preparing the form.

Final return. If you go out of business, you must file a final return for the last quarter in which wages are paid. If you continue to pay wages or other compensation for quarters following termination of your business, you must file returns for those quarters. See the Instructions for Form 941 for details on how to file a final return.

Note: If you are required to file a final Form 941, you are also required to furnish Form W-2 to your employees by the due date of the final Form 941. File Forms W-2 and W-3 with the SSA by the last day of the month that follows the due date of your final Form 941. See the Instructions for Forms W-2 and W-3 for more information.

Filing late Forms 941 for prior years. If you are filing an original return for a quarter in a prior year and you are using the current year form, you will have to modify Form 941. A form for a particular year generally can be used without modification for any quarter within that year. For example, a form with any 2002 revision date (e.g., January or October 2002) generally can be used without modification for any quarter of 2002.

In all cases, however, be sure to correctly fill out the "Date quarter ended" section at the top of the form. If you are modifying a form with preprinted information, change the date (the date is shown with the month and year the quarter ends; for example, JUN02 would be for the quarter ending June 30, 2002). Cross out any inapplicable tax rate(s) shown on the form and write in the rate from Table 3 below. You can get tax rates and wage base limits for years not shown in the table from the IRS.

The instructions on the form may be inappropriate for the year for which you are reporting taxes because of changes in the law, regulations, or procedures. The revision date (found under the form number at the top of the form) will tell you the year for which the form was developed. Contact the IRS if you have any questions.

Table 3. Social Security and Medicare Tax Rates (For 3 prior years)

Calendar Year Wage Base Limit (each employee) Tax Rate on Taxable Wages and Tips
2001-Social Security $80,400 12.4%
2001-Medicare All Wages 2.9%
2000-Social Security $76,200 12.4%
2000-Medicare All Wages 2.9%
1999-Social Security $72,600 12.4%
1999-Medicare All Wages 2.9%

Reconciling Forms W-2, W-3, and 941. When there are discrepancies between Forms 941 filed with the IRS and Forms W-2 and W-3 filed with the SSA, we must contact you to resolve the discrepancies.

To help reduce discrepancies--

  1. Report bonuses as wages and as social security and Medicare wages on Forms W-2 and 941.
  2. Report both social security and Medicare wages and taxes separately on Forms W-2, W-3, and 941.
  3. Report social security taxes on Form W-2 in the box for social security tax withheld, not as social security wages.
  4. Report Medicare taxes on Form W-2 in the box for Medicare tax withheld, not as Medicare wages.
  5. Make sure the social security wage amount for each employee does not exceed the annual social security wage base limit.
  6. Do not report noncash wages that are not subject to social security or Medicare taxes as social security or Medicare wages.
  7. If you used an EIN on any Form 941 for the year that is different from the EIN reported on Form W-3, enter the other EIN on Form W-3 in the box for "Other EIN used this year."

To reduce the discrepancies between amounts reported on Forms W-2, W-3, and 941--

  1. Be sure the amounts on Form W-3 are the total amounts from Forms W-2.
  2. Reconcile Form W-3 with your four quarterly Forms 941 by comparing amounts reported for--
    1. Income tax withholding.
    2. Social security wages, social security tips, and Medicare wages and tips. Form W-3 should include Form 941 adjustments only for the current year (i.e., if the Form 941 adjustments include amounts for a prior year, do not report those prior year adjustments on the current-year Forms W-2 and W-3).
    3. Social security and Medicare taxes. The amounts shown on the four quarterly Forms 941, including current-year adjustments, should be approximately twice the amounts shown on Form W-3. This is because Form 941 includes both the employer and employee shares of social security and Medicare taxes.
    4. Advance earned income credit.

Do not report on Form 941 backup withholding or income tax withholding on nonpayroll payments such as pensions, annuities, and gambling winnings. Nonpayroll withholding must be reported on Form 945 (see the separate Instructions for Form 945 for details). Income tax withholding required to be reported on Forms 1099 or W-2G must be reported on Form 945. Only taxes and withholding properly reported on Form W-2 should be reported on Form 941.

Amounts reported on Forms W-2, W-3, and 941 may not match for valid reasons. If they do not match, you should determine that the reasons are valid. Keep your reconciliation so you will have a record of why amounts did not match in case there are inquiries from the IRS or the SSA.

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