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An HR Glossary for HR Terms

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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Quarterly Federal Tax Return

A quarterly federal tax return is a payroll tax that every employer needs to submit to the IRS four times a year using IRS Form 941. The taxes submitted include the following withheld taxes for each employee:

  • Federal Income

  • Social Security

  • Medicare

How Do I Pay an Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return?

An employer’s quarterly federal tax return must be paid with either monthly or semi-weekly deposits. This is done electronically using the IRS EFTPS system. Then, at the end of the quarter, Form 941 must be submitted electronically using authorized e-file options.

To determine how much tax has been overpaid or underpaid at the end of the quarter, complete these calculations for Form 941:

  • The number of employees

  • The total pay for the quarter

  • The total withheld from the wages of employees for the quarter

  • The taxable Social Security and Medicare wages for the quarter

  • The total Social Security and Medicare wages for the quarter

  • The adjustments for sick pay, tips, and group-term life insurance

If the total taxes and total federal tax deposits made during the quarter equals zero, then no payment is due. If there is a negative difference, a payment must be made.

What Is the Due Date for 941 Deposits?

Form 941 deposits are due at the end of the month following the end of the quarter:

  • First quarter is January 1 through March 31. The due date for first quarter is April 30.

  • Second quarter is April 1 through June 30. The due date for second quarter is July 31.

  • Third quarter is July 1 through September 30. The due date for third quarter is October 31.

  • Fourth quarter is October 1 through December 31. The due date for fourth quarter is January 31.

If the due date falls on a weekend or holiday, the date due is the next business day. *10-Day Extension*

If an employer completely submitted the payroll tax deposits on time, a 10-day extension for filing form 941 is granted.

Where Do I Mail a 941 Quarterly Federal Tax Return?

Where a 941 Quarterly Federal Tax Return should be mailed depends on three things:

  1. Which quarter you are submitting

  2. Where you’re located

  3. If you are mailing a return with or without a payment

See mailing addresses for Form 941 Quarterly Federal Tax Return.

Do I Have to File Form 941 If No Wages Were Paid?

Most employers need to file Form 941 even if no wages were paid. However, there are a few exceptions, including employers of seasonal employees, household employees, or farm employees. However, other IRS forms may be required.

In addition, if an employer received notification to file Form 944 annually, then a quarterly Form 941 is not required.

Does a Church Have to File Form 941?

No. Generally, a church does not need to file Form 941. The following church-related organizations are also exempt from filing:

  • An interchurch organization of local units of a church

  • A convention or association of churches

  • An integrated auxiliary of a church

  • A church-affiliated organization that is exclusively engaged in managing funds or maintaining retirement programs

  • A school below college level affiliated with a church or operated by a religious order

  • Church-affiliated mission societies if more than half of their activities are conducted in, or directed at persons in, foreign countries

  • An exclusively religious activity of any religious order

What Is the Difference Between a 940 and a 941 form?

Form 941 is used by employers to report withholding income and FICA taxes due quarterly to the IRS.

Form 940 is used by employers to report federal unemployment (FUTA) taxes due annually to the IRS.

What Is a Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return?

The Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return is for employers who sell or manufacture goods or services for which the federal government charges an excise tax. The tax is usually included in the price of the good or service, requiring the seller or manufacturer to remit the taxes to the federal government and file Form 720.

The list of goods and services that include an excise tax is extensive, but includes:

  • Motor fuel

  • Airline tickets

  • Tobacco and alcohol

  • Health insurance

  • Prescription drugs

  • Medical devices

  • Indoor tanning services

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