How to Deal with Employment Taxes

How to Deal with Employment Taxes

The employer MUST obtain an Federal EIN if they are going to have employees (See how to obtain an EIN).

Federal Income Tax, Social Security and Medicare Taxes

You generally must withhold federal income tax from your employees’ wages. You withhold part of Social Security and Medicare taxes from your employees’ wages and you pay a matching amount yourself. To figure how much to withhold from each wage payment, use the employee’s Form W-4 and the methods described in Publication 15, Employer’s Tax Guide and Publication 15-A, Employer’s Supplemental Tax Guide (PDF).

The Internal Revenue Service recently released instructions to help employers implement the 2011 cut in payroll taxes, along with new income-tax withholding tables that employers will use during 2011.

Employers should start using the new withholding tables and reducing the amount of Social Security tax withheld as soon as possible in 2011, but not later than Jan. 31, 2011.

Notice 1036 (PDF) contains the percentage method income tax withholding tables, the lower Social Security withholding rate, and related information that most employers need to implement these changes. Publication 15, (Circular E), Employers Tax Guide (PDF), contains the percentage method tables and the wage bracket tables that some employers use.

Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Tax

You report and pay FUTA tax separately from Federal Income tax, and Social Security and Medicare taxes. You pay FUTA tax only from your own funds. Employees do not pay this tax or have it withheld from their pay. Refer to Publication 15, Employer’s Tax Guide and Publication 15-A, Employer’s Supplemental Tax Guide (PDF) for more information on FUTA tax.

Self-Employment Tax

Self-employment tax (SE tax) is a social security and Medicare tax primarily for individuals who work for themselves. It is similar to the social security and Medicare taxes withheld from the pay of most wage earners.

Depositing Employment Taxes

The IRS has issued proposed regulations that provide that beginning January 1, 2011, taxpayers must deposit all depository taxes (such as employment tax, excise tax, and corporate income tax) electronically using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).

Under these proposed regulations, which are expected to be finalized by December 31, 2010, Forms 8109 and 8109-B, Federal Tax Deposit Coupon, cannot be used after December 31, 2010.

Reporting Employment Taxes

In general, employers are responsible to report federal Income Taxes, Social Security, and Medicare taxes on Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return (PDF) and Instructions (PDF), or Form 943, Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return for Agriculture Employees (PDF) and Instructions (PDF) (For use by farm employers).

Note: Employers who have an employment tax liability of $1,000 or less for the year may file Form 944, Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return (PDF) and Instructions (PDF), instead of Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return.

Report FUTA taxes on Form 940, Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Tax Return (PDF) and Instructions (PDF).

e-file for Business and Self-Employed Taxpayers

Whether you’re a business, big or small, or are self-employed you’ll find an e-file for business filing option that meets your needs. Use IRS e-file for Employment Tax Returns, Information Returns, Partnerships, Corporations, Estates & Trusts, plus Exempt Organizations.

Preparing and Filing Form W-2

At the end of the year, the employer must complete Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement (PDF) to report wages, tips and other compensation paid to an employee. A copy of this form must be given to the employee by January 31st after the end of the year. You must also send a copy of the W-2 to the Social Security Administration (SSA). Employers can prepare and file up to 20 W-2s at a time at the Social Security Administration’s Web site. Using SSA’s online W-2 filing, employers can also print out all the necessary copies of the W-2 for their employees, state taxing agencies, etc.

Correcting/Adjusting Employment Taxes

If correcting employment tax errors on previously filed employment tax returns is required, refer to Correcting Employment Taxes.

Outsourcing Payroll Duties

It is much easier to outsource the payroll and the responsibilities.  The payroll company will not only perform the regular payroll functions but will also file and pay the taxes.  This allows the owner to focus on their business and not on tax issues.

Other Payroll Taxes

Most states require the employer to pay State Unemployment Taxes on the payroll (SUTA) and Workers’ Compensation.  These are a percent of the payroll.  Those states that have income tax, local taxes and school district tax will require the employer to withhold those from their employees pay check.  This can become complicated and I always advise clients to outsource these tasks to experts.

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