Thoughts, Ideas, and Concepts by Sandra Parks

Posts tagged ‘earned income’

QUARTERLY FILING

Generally, you will file Form 941 (PDF), Employer’s QUARTERLY Federal Tax Return, or Form 944, Employer’s ANNUAL Federal Tax Return, to report wages you have paid, tips your employees have reported to you, federal income tax withheld, social security and Medicare taxes withheld, your share of social security and Medicare taxes, and advance earned income credit payments. Form 944 may be filed only by small business employers who have been notified to file that form. To report wages and taxes for farm employees, you will file Form 943, Employer’s Annual Tax Return for Agricultural Employees.

A separate Form 941 is filed for each quarter. The first quarter is January through March. The second quarter is April through June. The third quarter is July through September. The fourth quarter is October through December. Form 941 is due by the last day of the month following the end of the quarter. For example, wages you pay during the first quarter, January through March, must generally be reported on Form 941 by April 30th.

If the due date for filing a return falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, you may file the return on the next business day.

Beginning with returns for calendar year 2006, some employers with small payrolls, including government employers, have filed an annual return Form 944, Employer’s ANNUAL Employment Tax Return, instead of Form 941 each quarter. Form 944 generally is due on January 31st of the following year (e.g., January 31, 2009 for the 2008 tax year). The purpose of Form 944 is to reduce burden on small business taxpayers by allowing certain employers to file one employment tax return per year to report social security, Medicare, and withheld federal income taxes, and in most cases pay the employment tax with the return. Form 944 is designed for employers with an annual liability of $1,000 or less for social security, Medicare, and withheld federal income taxes.

If you qualify for Form 944, you will be notified by the IRS. Employers cannot file Form 944 unless they are notified by the IRS that they qualify to file this form. Beginning in 2009, the IRS will only send eligibility to file Form 944 upon request by the qualified employer and in 2010 filing of Form 944 will be voluntary. For further information, see the Instructions for Form 944 and/or Form 941.

Employers notified to file Form 944 whose businesses grow during the year and exceed the $1,000 eligibility threshold should still file Form 944 for the year. Employers who exceed the eligibility threshold will be notified by the IRS that their filing requirement has been changed to Form 941 for a particular year.

Some employers are required to deposit their employment taxes before the Form 941 and Form 944 are filed. For the rules for making deposits, refer to Topic 757. If you have deposited all your tax on time, you have ten additional days to file.

The total social security and Medicare taxes on Form 941 and Form 944 may differ by a small amount from the total on your payroll records due to fractions of cents that you gained or lost when computing separate amounts for individual employees. You may add or subtract this difference on the line for tax adjustments. Generally, this should not be more than a few cents. You may also use this adjustment line to correct the social security and Medicare taxes you were unable to collect on employees’ tips, or for sick pay wages you report but for which social security and Medicare taxes were withheld by a third party, such as an insurance company. If you wish to correct an error on a previously filed Form 941 or Form 944, you will use Form 941X (PDF), Adjusted Employer’s QUARTERLY Federal Tax Return or Claim for Refund, or Form 944X (PDF), Adjusted Employer’s ANNUAL Federal Tax Return or Claim for Refund, respectively. These forms will be used to make adjustments to previously filed Forms 941 or Forms 944 and to claim refunds of overpaid employment taxes. You will not attach Form 941X to Form 941 or attach Form 944X to Form 944. Forms 941X and 944X must be filed separately. Form 941c will no longer be used. For more information, see Publication 15, (Circular E), Employer’s Tax Guide, Section 13.

The federal income tax withheld and social security and Medicare taxes are added together on Form 941 and Form 944. If you made advance earned income credit payments to employees during the quarter, these payments are subtracted from your total taxes. Refer to Topic 754 for more information on the advance earned income credit.

The resulting net tax is the amount of employment taxes you owe for the quarter (Form 941) or the year (Form 944). If this amount is $2,500 or more, complete the Tax liability for each month in Part 2 of Form 941 and Form 944, if you are a monthly schedule depositor. If you file Form 941 and are a semiweekly depositor, then report your tax liability on Form 941, Schedule B (PDF), Report of Tax Liability for Semiweekly Schedule Depositors. If you file Form 944 and are a semiweekly depositor, then report your tax liability on Form 945-A, Annual Record of Federal Tax Liability. The purpose of Part 2 of Form 941, Part 2 of Form 944, Schedule B (Form 941), and Form 945-A is to show the IRS when you paid your employees and the liability for that pay. IRS uses this information to determine if you deposited your employment taxes on time.

For monthly depositors you must show the combined amount of social security, Medicare, and withheld federal income tax owed for each month in Part 2 of Form 941 or Part 2 of Form 944. For semiweekly depositors, you must show the combined amount of social security, Medicare, and withheld federal income tax owed for each day on Schedule B (Form 941) or Form 945–A. Your liability for employment taxes occurs when you actually pay the employees their wages, not when the pay period ends. For example, if your pay period ends September 24th, but you do not pay the employees until October 1st, their wages would be reported in the fourth quarter, when you actually became liable for the tax, not the third quarter when the pay period ended.

It is very important that you complete Part 2 of Form 941 and Form 944, Schedule B of Form 941, or Form 945-A correctly, or it may appear that you did not deposit your taxes when due. There is a late deposit penalty ranging from 2% to 15%, depending on the length of time the deposit is late.

Generally, if your tax liability for the quarter is $2,500 or more and you have made the proper deposits, you should not have a balance due with Form 941 and Form 944. Generally, only taxpayers with a tax liability of less than $2,500 may pay with the tax return. If you pay taxes with your tax return that should have been deposited, you may be subject to a penalty. Be sure Form 941 and Form 944 is signed and dated before mailing it to your service center.

You may find Publication 15, (Circular E), Employer’s Tax Guide, helpful. It explains all the deposit rules and filing requirements for Form 941 and Form 944.

SAP Taxes, Sandra Parks, 972.569.7938

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Tax credit is coming back to bite millions

WASHINGTON – More than 15 million taxpayers may owe the government $250 or more because of how the IRS last spring set up President Barack Obama’s tax break that was designed to help consumers spend the U.S. economy out of recession.

Individuals with more than one job and married couples in which both spouses work may have to repay the government $400, either through a smaller tax refund or a larger tax bill, according to a report released Monday by the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration. Social Security recipients who also earn taxable wages may have to repay $250.

The tax credit, which is supposed to pay individuals up to $400 and couples up to $800, was Obama’s signature tax break in the massive stimulus package enacted in February. The credit has increased weekly paychecks for 95 percent of working families, giving them cash to help boost consumer spending during the worst economic recession in decades.

Workers concerned about whether they are withholding enough taxes can use a calculator on the IRS Web site to find the appropriate amount that should be withheld.

Taxpayers can adjust their withholding by filing a new W-4 form with their employer. But with only a month and a half remaining in the 2009 tax year, it’s getting late to make adjustments.

Most workers started receiving the credit through small increases in their paychecks in April. The tax credit was made available through new tax withholding tables issued by the Internal Revenue Service.

The withholding tables, however, do not take into account several common categories of taxpayers. And that could force some people to repay what the government gave them.

For example, a worker with two jobs gets a $400 boost in pay at each job, for a total of $800. That worker, however, only is eligible for a maximum credit of $400, so the remaining $400 will have to be paid back at tax time — either through a smaller refund or a payment to the IRS.

The IRS recognized there could be a similar problem for married couples if both spouses work, so it adjusted the withholding tables. The fix, however, was imperfect.

A married couple is eligible for an $800 credit. However, if both spouses work and make more than $13,000, the new withholding tables give them each a $600 boost — for a total of $1,200.

There were 33 million married couples in 2008 in which both spouses worked. That’s 55 percent of all married couples, according to the Census Bureau.

Also, a single student with a part-time job gets a $400 boost in pay. However, if students are claimed as dependents on their parents’ tax returns, they don’t qualify for the credit and would have to repay it when they file their returns.

Some retirees face even bigger headaches.

More than 50 million Social Security recipients received $250 payments in the spring as part of the economic stimulus package. Those lump sum payments were intended to provide a boost for people who didn’t qualify for the tax credit.

However, the payments were sent to many retirees who also received the tax credit. Those retirees will have the $250 payment deducted from their tax credit — but not until they file their tax returns next year, long after the money may have been spent.

“More than 10 percent of all taxpayers who file individual tax returns for 2009 could owe additional taxes,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration.

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, called problems with the tax credit “another unfortunate example of what can happen when Congress and the White House rush through legislation like the stimulus without thinking through the consequences.”

The tax credit is also available for 2010. George said the problems will continue if workers don’t adjust their withholding for next year.

For many, the new tax tables will simply mean smaller-than-expected tax refunds. The average tax refund this year was about $2,800. A little more than three-fourths of the 143 million taxpayers filing a return last spring received refunds, according to the IRS.

The IRS was aware of the issues when the withholding tables were released last spring and waged a public awareness campaign to get people to check their tax withholding, said Michael Mundaca, acting assistant treasury secretary.

“It’s just technically how withholding works,” Mundaca said. “It’s an approximation and therefore for some people there will be overwithholding and for some people there will be underwithholding.”

Separately, the IRS estimated that about 65,000 taxpayers could face penalties for not withholding enough taxes in 2009 because of the Making Work Pay tax credit. However, those taxpayers will be eligible to have the penalty waived, IRS spokeswoman Michelle Eldridge said.

The credit pays workers 6.2 percent of their earned income, up to a maximum of $400 for individuals and $800 for married couples who file jointly. Individuals making more than $95,000 and couples making more than $190,000 are ineligible.

Sandra Parks 972.569.7938 http://saptaxes.net

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