General Instructions

Purpose of Form 944

Form 944 is designed so the smallest employers (those whose annual liability for social security, Medicare, and withheld federal income taxes is $1,000 or less) will file and pay these taxes only once a year instead of every quarter. These instructions give you some background information about Form 944. They tell you who must file Form 944, how to complete it line by line, and when and where to file it.

If you want more in-depth information about payroll tax topics relating to Form 944, see Pub. 15 (Circular E), Pub. 80 (Circular SS), Pub. 179 (Circular PR), or visit the IRS website at www.irs.go/businesses and click on the Employment Taxes link under Businesses Topics.

Federal law requires you, as an employer, to withhold taxes from your employees' pay. Each time you pay wages, you must withhold–or take out of your employees' pay–certain amounts for federal income tax, social security tax, and Medicare tax. You must also withhold Additional Medicare Tax from wages you pay to an employee in excess of $200,000 in a calendar year. Under the withholding system, taxes withheld from your employees are credited to your employees in payment of their tax liabilities.

References to federal income tax withholding do not apply to employers in American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

Federal law also requires you to pay any liability for the employer's portion of social security tax and Medicare tax. This portion of social security tax and Medicare tax is not withheld from employees.

For more information about annual employment tax filing and tax deposit rules, see Treasury Decision 9566, 2012-8 I.R.B. 389, at www.irs.gov/irb/2012-08_IRB/ar09.html.

Who Must File Form 944?

In general, if the IRS has notified you to file Form 944, you must file Form 944 instead of Forms 941, 941-SS, or 941-PR to report the following amounts.

  • Wages you have paid.

  • Tips your employees have received.

  • Federal income tax you withheld.

  • Both the employer's and the employee's share of social security and Medicare taxes.

  • Additional Medicare Tax withheld from employees.

  • Current year's adjustments to social security and Medicare taxes for fractions of cents, sick pay, tips, and group-term life insurance.

  • Credit for COBRA premium assistance payments.

If you received notification to file Form 944, you must file Form 944 to report your social security, Medicare, and withheld federal income taxes for the 2013 calendar year unless you contacted the IRS between January 1, 2013, and April 1, 2013, to request to file Forms 941, 941-SS, or 941-PR quarterly instead and received written confirmation that your filing requirement was changed. You must file Form 944 even if you have no taxes to report (or you have taxes in excess of $1,000 to report) unless you filed a final return. See If your business has closed..., later. Also see What if you want to file Forms 941, 941-SS, or 941-PR instead of Form 944, later.

If you have not received notification to file Form 944 but estimate your employment tax liability for calendar year 2014 will be $1,000 or less and would like to file Form 944 instead of Forms 941, 941-SS, or 941-PR, you can contact the IRS to request to file Form 944. To file Form 944 for calendar year 2014, you must call the IRS at 1-800-829-4933 or 267-941-1000 (toll call) by April 1, 2014, or send a written request postmarked by March 17, 2014. The mailing addresses for written requests are provided below under What if you want to file Forms 941, 941-SS, or 941-PR instead of Form 944. The IRS will send you a written notice that your filing requirement has been changed to Form 944. If you do not receive this notice, you must file Forms 941, 941-SS, or 941-PR for calendar year 2014.

New employers are also eligible to file Form 944 if they will meet the eligibility requirements. New employers filing Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number, or Form SS-4PR, Solicitud de Número de Identificación Patronal (EIN), must complete line 13 of Form SS-4 or SS-4PR, indicating the highest number of employees expected in the next 12 months and must check the box on line 14 of Form SS-4 or SS-4PR to indicate whether they expect to have $1,000 or less in employment tax liability for the calendar year and would like to file Form 944. Generally, if you pay $4,000 or less in wages subject to social security and Medicare taxes and federal income tax withholding, you are likely to pay $1,000 or less in employment taxes. Generally, if you are an employer in Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or the U.S. Virgin Islands and you pay $6,536 or less in wages subject to social security and Medicare taxes, you are likely to pay $1,000 or less in employment taxes. New employers are advised of their employment tax filing requirement when they are issued their EIN.

If the IRS notified you to file Form 944 for 2013, file Form 944 (and not Forms 941, 941-SS, or 941-PR) even if your tax liability for 2013 exceeds $1,000.

What if you want to file Forms 941, 941-SS, or 941-PR instead of Form 944?

You must file Form 944 if the IRS has notified you to do so, unless you contact the IRS to request to file quarterly Forms 941, 941-SS, or 941-PR instead. To request to file quarterly Forms 941, 941-SS, or 941-PR to report your social security, Medicare, and withheld federal income taxes for the 2014 calendar year, call the IRS at 1-800-829-4933 or 267-941-1000 (toll call) between January 1, 2014, and April 1, 2014, or send a written request postmarked between January 1, 2014, and March 17, 2014. Written requests should be sent to:

Department of Treasury   Department of Treasury
Internal Revenue Service or Internal Revenue Service
Ogden, UT 84201-0038   Cincinnati, OH 45999-0038

Select one of the addresses above based on the state filing alignment for returns filed Without a payment under Where Should You File, later. After you contact the IRS, the IRS will send you a written notice that your filing requirement has been changed. If you do not receive this notice, you must file Form 944 for calendar year 2014. See Rev. Proc. 2009-51, 2009-45 I.R.B. 625, available at www.irs.gov/irb/2009-45_IRB/ar12.html.

Who cannot file Form 944?

The following employers cannot file Form 944.

  • Employers who are not notified. If the IRS does not notify you to file Form 944, do not file Form 944. If you would like to file Form 944 instead of Forms 941, 941-SS, or 941-PR, see the TIP under Who Must File Form 944, earlier.

  • Household employers. If you employ only household employees, do not file Form 944. For more information, see Pub. 926, Household Employer's Tax Guide, and Schedule H (Form 1040), Household Employment Taxes, or Pub. 179 (Circular PR) and Schedule H-PR (Form 1040-PR), Contribuciones sobre el Empleo de Empleados Domésticos.

  • Agricultural employers. If you employ only agricultural employees, do not file Form 944. For more information, see Pub. 51 (Circular A), Agricultural Employer's Tax Guide, and Form 943, Employer's Annual Federal Tax Return for Agricultural Employees, or Pub. 179 (Circular PR) and Form 943-PR, Planilla para la Declaración Anual de la Contribución Federal del Patrono de Empleados Agrícolas.

What if you reorganize or close your business?

If you sell or transfer your business...

If you sell or transfer your business, you and the new owner must each file a Form 944, 941, 941-SS, or 941-PR, whichever is required, for the year in which the transfer occurred. Report only the wages you paid.

When two businesses merge, the continuing firm must file a return for the year in which the change took place and the other firm should file a final return.

Changing from one form of business to another—such as from a sole proprietorship to a partnership or corporation—is considered a transfer. If a transfer occurs, you may need a new EIN. See section 1 of Pub. 15 (Circular E). Attach a statement to your return with all the following information.

  • The new owner's name (or the new name of the business).

  • Whether the business is now a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation.

  • The kind of change that occurred (a sale or transfer).

  • The date of the change.

  • The name of the person keeping the payroll records and the address where those records will be kept.

If your business has closed...

If you go out of business or stop paying wages to your employees, you must file a final return. To tell the IRS that Form 944 for a particular year is your final return, check the box in Part 3 on page 2 of Form 944 and enter the final date you paid wages. Also attach a statement to your return showing the name of the person keeping the payroll records and the address where those records will be kept.

If you participated in a statutory merger or consolidation, or qualify for predecessor-successor status due to an acquisition, you should generally file Schedule D (Form 941), Report of Discrepancies Caused by Acquisitions, Statutory Mergers, or Consolidations. See the Instructions for Schedule D (Form 941) to determine whether you should file Schedule D (Form 941) and when you should file it.

When Must You File?

File Form 944 by January 31, after the end of the calendar year. If you made timely deposits in full payment of your taxes by January 31, you have 10 more calendar days after that date to file your Form 944.

File Form 944 only once for each calendar year. If you filed Form 944 electronically, do not file a paper Form 944. For more information about filing Form 944 electronically, see Electronic filing and payment, earlier.

If we receive Form 944 after the due date, we will treat Form 944 as filed on time if the envelope containing Form 944 is properly addressed, contains sufficient postage, and is postmarked by the U.S. Postal Service on or before the due date, or sent by an IRS-designated private delivery service on or before the due date. If you do not follow these guidelines, we will consider Form 944 filed when it is actually received. See Pub. 15 (Circular E), Pub. 80 (Circular SS), or Pub. 179 (Circular PR) for more information on IRS-designated private delivery services.

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

How Should You Complete Form 944?

Enter your EIN, name, and address in the spaces provided. Also enter your name and EIN at the top of page 2. Do not use your social security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). Generally, enter the business (legal) name that you used when you applied for your EIN. For example, if you are a sole proprietor, enter “Tyler Smith” on the Name line and “Tyler's Cycles” on the Trade name line. Leave the Trade name line blank if it is the same as your Name line.

If you use a tax preparer to complete Form 944, make sure the preparer uses your correct business name and EIN.

Employer identification number (EIN).   To make sure that businesses comply with federal tax laws, the IRS monitors tax filings and payments by using a numerical system to identify taxpayers. A unique nine-digit EIN is assigned to all corporations, partnerships, and some sole proprietors. Businesses needing an EIN must apply for a number and use it throughout the life of the business on all tax returns, payments, and reports.

  Your business should have only one EIN. If you have more than one and are not sure which one to use, write to the IRS office where you file your returns (using the Without a payment address under Where Should You File, later) or call the IRS at 1-800-829-4933 or 267-941-1000 (toll call).

  If you do not have an EIN, you may apply for one online. Visit IRS.gov and click on the Apply for an EIN Online link under Tools. You may also apply for an EIN by calling 1-800-829-4933 or 267-941-1000 (toll call), or you can fax or mail Form SS-4 or SS-4PR to the IRS. If you have applied for an EIN but do not have your EIN by the time a return is due, write “Applied For” and the date you applied in the space shown for the number.

  
If you are filing your tax return electronically, a valid EIN is required at the time the return is filed. If a valid EIN is not provided, the return will not be accepted. This may result in penalties.

  
Always be sure the EIN on the form you file exactly matches the EIN the IRS assigned to your business. Do not use your SSN or ITIN on forms that ask for an EIN. Filing a Form 944 with an incorrect EIN or using another business's EIN may result in penalties.

If you change your name or address...   Notify the IRS immediately if you change your business name or address.

  
  • Name change. Write to the IRS office where you filed your return (using the Without a payment address under Where Should You File, later) to notify the IRS of any name change. See Pub. 1635 to see if you need to also apply for a new EIN.

  • Address change. Complete and mail Form 8822-B to notify the IRS of an address change. Do not mail Form 8822-B with your Form 944.

Completing and Filing Form 944

Make entries on Form 944 as follows to enable accurate processing.

  • Use 12-point Courier font (if possible) for all entries if you are using a typewriter or computer to complete Form 944. Portable Document Format (PDF) forms on IRS.gov have fillable fields with acceptable font specifications.

  • Do not enter dollar signs and decimal points. Commas are optional. Report dollars to the left of the preprinted decimal point and cents to the right of it.

  • Leave blank any data field with a value of zero (except line 7).

  • Enter negative amounts using a minus sign (if possible). Otherwise, use parentheses.

  • Enter your name and EIN on all pages and attachments.

  • Staple multiple sheets in the upper left corner when filing.

Required Notice to Employees About the Earned Income Credit (EIC)

To notify employees about the EIC, employers in the United States must give the employees one of the following items.

  • The IRS Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, which has the required information about the EIC on the back of  
    Copy B.

  • A substitute Form W-2 with the same EIC information on the back of the employee's copy that is on the back of Copy B of the IRS Form W-2.

  • Notice 797, Possible Federal Tax Refund Due to the Earned Income Credit (EIC).

  • Your written statement with the same wording as  
    Notice 797.

For more information, see section 10 of Pub. 15 (Circular E) and Pub. 596, Earned Income Credit (EIC).

Reconciling Form 944 and Form W-3, W-3SS, or W-3PR

The IRS matches amounts reported on your Form 944 with Form W-2, W-2AS, W-2GU, W-2CM, W-2VI, or Form 499R-2/W-2PR amounts totaled on your Form W-3 or W-3SS, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements, or Form W-3PR, Informe de Comprobantes de Retención. If the amounts do not agree, the IRS may contact you. The following amounts are reconciled.

  • Federal income tax withholding, if applicable.

  • Social security wages.

  • Social security tips.

  • Medicare wages and tips.

For more information, see section 12 of Pub. 15 (Circular E).

Where Should You File?

Where you file depends on whether you include a payment with Form 944.

If you are in . . . Without a  
payment . . .
With a payment . . .
Special filing address for exempt organizations; federal, state and local governmental entities; and Indian tribal governmental entities; regardless of location Department of the Treasury  
Internal Revenue Service 
Ogden, UT  
84201-0044
Internal Revenue Service  
P.O. Box 37944 
Hartford, CT 
06176-7944
Connecticut 
Delaware 
District of Columbia 
Florida 
Georgia 
Illinois  
Indiana  
Kentucky  
Maine  
Maryland  
Massachusetts  
Michigan  
New Hampshire
New Jersey  
New York  
North Carolina  
Ohio  
Pennsylvania  
Rhode Island  
South Carolina  
Tennessee 
Vermont  
Virginia  
West Virginia  
Wisconsin
Department of the Treasury  
Internal Revenue Service  
Cincinnati, OH  
45999-0044
Internal Revenue Service  
P.O. Box 804522  
Cincinnati, OH 
45280-4522
Alabama  
Alaska  
Arizona  
Arkansas  
California  
Colorado  
Hawaii  
Idaho  
Iowa  
Kansas  
Louisiana  
Minnesota  
Mississippi
Missouri  
Montana  
Nebraska  
Nevada  
New Mexico  
North Dakota  
Oklahoma  
Oregon  
South Dakota  
Texas  
Utah  
Washington  
Wyoming
Department of the Treasury  
Internal Revenue Service  
Ogden, UT  
84201-0044
Internal Revenue Service  
P. O Box 37944 
Hartford, CT  
06176-7944
No legal residence or principal place of business in any state Internal Revenue Service  
P.O. Box 409101 
Ogden, UT 84409
Internal Revenue Service  
P. O Box 37944 
Hartford, CT  
06176-7944

Your filing address may have changed from that used to file your employment tax return in prior years. Do not send Form 944 or any payments to the Social Security Administration (SSA). Private delivery services cannot deliver to P.O. boxes.

Must You Deposit Your Taxes?

If your liability for withheld federal income tax and social security and Medicare taxes is less than $2,500 for the year, you can pay the taxes with your return. To avoid a penalty, you should pay in full and file on time. You do not have to deposit the taxes. However, you may choose to make deposits of these taxes even if your liability is less than $2,500. If your liability for these taxes is $2,500 or more, you are generally required to deposit the taxes instead of paying them when you file Form 944. See the Federal Tax Deposit Requirements for Form 944 Filers chart, later. If you do not deposit the taxes when required, you may be subject to penalties and interest.

The $2,500 threshold at which federal tax deposits must be made is different from the amount of annual tax liability ($1,000 or less) that makes an employer eligible to file Form 944. Form 944 filers whose businesses grow during the year may be required to make federal tax deposits (see chart below), but they will still file Form 944 for the year.

Federal Tax Deposit Requirements for Form 944 Filers
If Your Tax Liability is: Your Deposit Requirement is:
Less than $2,500 for the year No deposit required. You may pay the tax with your return. If you are unsure that your tax liability for the year will be less than $2,500, deposit under the rules below.
$2,500 or more for the year, but less than $2,500 for the quarter You can deposit by the last day of the month after the end of a quarter. However, if your fourth quarter tax liability is less than $2,500, you may pay the fourth quarter's tax liability with Form 944.
$2,500 or more for the quarter You must deposit monthly or semiweekly depending on your deposit schedule. But, if you accumulate $100,000 or more of taxes on any day, you must deposit the tax by the next business day. See section 11 of Pub. 15 (Circular E), section 8 of Pub. 80 (Circular SS), or section 11 of Pub. 179 (Circular PR).

Note.

When you make deposits depends on your deposit schedule, which is either monthly or semiweekly, depending on the amount of your tax liability during the lookback period. The lookback period for Form 944 filers is different than the lookback period for Form 941, 941-SS, and 941-PR filers, so your deposit schedule may have changed. For more information, see section 11 of Pub. 15 (Circular E), section 8 of Pub. 80 (Circular SS), or section 11 of Pub. 179  
(Circular PR).

What About Penalties and Interest?

Avoiding Penalties and Interest

You can avoid paying penalties and interest if you do all of the following.

  • Deposit or pay your taxes when they are due.

  • File your fully completed Form 944 on time.

  • Report your tax liability accurately.

  • Submit valid checks for tax payments.

  • Give accurate Forms W-2, W-2AS, W-2GU, W-2CM, W-2VI, or Form 499R-2/W-2PR to employees.

  • File Form W-3, W-3SS, or W-3PR and Copies A of Forms W-2, W-2AS, W-2GU, W-2CM, W-2VI, or Form 499R-2/W-2PR with the Social Security Administration (SSA) on time and accurately. Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/employer for information on how to file Forms W-2 electronically.

Penalties and interest are charged on taxes paid late and returns filed late at a rate set by law. See sections 11 and 12 of Pub. 15 (Circular E), section 8 of Pub. 80 (Circular SS), or section 11 of Pub. 179 (Circular PR) for details. Use Form 843, Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement, to request abatement of assessed penalties or interest. Do not request abatement of assessed penalties or interest on Form 944, Form 944-X, 944-X (PR), 944-X (SP), 941-X, or  
941-X (PR).

If you receive a notice about a penalty after you file your return, reply to the notice with an explanation and we will determine if you meet reasonable-cause criteria. Do not include an explanation when you file your return.

A trust fund recovery penalty may apply if federal income, social security, or Medicare taxes that must be withheld are not withheld or are not deposited or paid. The penalty is the full amount of the unpaid trust fund tax. This penalty may apply when these unpaid taxes cannot be collected from the employer. The trust fund recovery penalty may be imposed on all people the IRS determines to be responsible for collecting, accounting for, and paying over these taxes, and who acted willfully in not doing so. For details, see section 11 of Pub. 15 (Circular E), section 8 of Pub. 80 (Circular SS), or section 11 of Pub. 179  
(Circular PR).


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