General Instructions

Federal law requires you, as an employer, to withhold taxes from your employees' paychecks. Each time you pay wages, you must withhold — or take out of your employees' paychecks — certain amounts for social security tax and Medicare tax. Under the withholding system, taxes withheld from your employees are credited to your employees in payment of their tax liabilities.

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

What Is the Purpose of Form 944-SS?

Form 944-SS is designed so the smallest employers (those whose annual liability for social security and Medicare 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-SS, tell you who must file the form, how to complete it line by line, and when and where to file it.

For more information about annual employment tax filing and tax deposit rules, see Treasury Decision 9440. You can find T.D. 9440 on page 409 of Internal Revenue Bulletin 2009-5 at www.irs.gov/irb/2009-05_IRB/ar10.html.

Form 944-SS will no longer be issued by the IRS after 2011. Beginning in 2012, employers who previously filed Form 944-SS will annually file Form 944. For more information, see Form 944-SS discontinued under What's New.

If you want more in-depth information about payroll tax topics, see Pub. 80 (Circular SS). Or visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov/businesses and click on the Employment Taxes link.

Who Must File Form 944-SS?

In general, if the IRS has notified you to file Form 944-SS, then you must file Form 944-SS to report all the following amounts.

  • Wages you have paid.

  • Tips your employees have received.

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

  • 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-SS, you must file Form 944-SS to report your social security and Medicare taxes for the 2011 calendar year, unless you contacted the IRS by April 1, 2011, to request to file Forms 941-SS quarterly instead and received written confirmation that your filing requirement was changed. You must file Form 944-SS 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. Also see What if you want to file Forms 941-SS instead of Form 944? below.

If you have not received notification to file Form 944 or Form 944-SS but estimate your employment tax liability for calendar year 2012 will be $1,000 or less and you would like to file Form 944 instead of Forms 941-SS, you can contact the IRS to request to file Form 944. To file Form 944 for calendar year 2012, you must call the IRS at 1-800-829-4933 (U.S. Virgin Islands only), or 267-941-1000 (toll call) by April 2, 2012, or send a written request postmarked on or before March 15, 2012. Written requests should be sent to the “Form 944-SS without payment” address under Where Should You File, later. 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-SS for calendar year 2012.

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, must complete line 13 of Form SS-4 indicating the highest number of employees expected in the next 12 months and must check the box on line 14 to indicate 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 $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. For 2012 and later, new employers who would have been eligible to file Form 944-SS will file Form 944.

If the IRS notified you to file Form 944-SS for 2011, file Form 944-SS (and not Forms 941-SS) even if your tax liability for 2011 exceeds $1,000.

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

You must file Form 944-SS for the 2011 calendar year if you have been notified to do so. You will be required to file Form 944 for the 2012 calendar year unless you contact the IRS to request to quarterly file Forms 941-SS instead, or the IRS notifies you that you are no longer eligible for the Form 944 Program and must file Forms 941-SS. To request to file quarterly Forms 941-SS to report your social security and Medicare taxes for the 2012 calendar year, you must either call the IRS at 1-800-829-4933 (U.S. Virgin Islands only), or 267-941-1000 (toll call) by April 2, 2012, or send a written request postmarked on or before March 15, 2012, unless you are a new employer. See New employers, earlier. Written requests should be sent to the IRS “Form 944-SS without payment” address 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 2012. 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-SS?

The following employers cannot file Form 944-SS.

  • Employers who are not notified. If the IRS did not notify you to file Form 944-SS, do not file Form 944-SS.

  • Household employers. If you employ only household employees, do not file Form 944-SS. For more information, see Pub. 926, Household Employer's Tax Guide, and Schedule H (Form 1040), Household Employment Taxes.

  • Agricultural employers. If you employ only agricultural employees, do not file Form 944-SS. 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.

What if you close your business?

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-SS for a particular year is your final return, check the box in Part 3 on page 2 of Form 944-SS 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.

When Must You File?

File Form 944-SS by January 31 after the end of the calendar year. File your initial Form 944-SS for the year in which you paid wages that are subject to social security and Medicare taxes if the IRS has notified you that you are to file Form 944-SS for that year. If you made timely deposits in full payment of your taxes for the year by January 31, you have 10 more calendar days after that date to file your  
Form 944-SS.

If we receive your Form 944-SS after the due date, we will treat Form 944-SS as filed on time if the envelope containing Form 944-SS 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-SS filed when it is actually received. See Pub. 80 (Circular SS) 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-SS?

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.

If you pay a tax preparer to complete Form 944-SS, 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 9-digit employer identification number (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 “Form 944-SS without payment” address under Where Should You File?) or call the IRS at 1-800-829-4933 (U.S. Virgin Islands only) or 267-941-1000 (toll call). TTY/TDD users in the U.S. Virgin Islands can call 1-800-829-4059.

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

  
Always be sure the EIN on the form you file exactly matches the EIN that IRS assigned to your business. Do not use your social security number on forms that ask for an EIN. Filing a Form 944-SS with an incorrect EIN or using another business's EIN may result in penalties and delays in processing your return.

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 using the “Form 944-SS without payment” address under Where Should You File? to notify the IRS of any name change. Get Pub. 1635, Understanding Your EIN, Employer Identification Number, to see if you need to also apply for a new EIN.

  • Address change. Complete and mail Form 8822, Change of Address, for any address change. Beginning in 2012, employers must use new Form 8822-B, Change of Address—Business, for any address change.

Completing and Filing Form 944-SS

Make entries on Form 944-SS 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-SS.

  • 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. Filers using the IRS-preaddressed Form 944-SS are not required to enter their name and EIN on page 2.

Reconciling Forms 944-SS and Form W-3SS

The IRS matches amounts reported on your Form 944-SS with Form W-2AS, W-2GU, W-2CM, or W-2VI amounts totaled on your Form W-3SS, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements. If the amounts do not agree, the IRS or Social Security Administration (SSA) may contact you. The reconciled amounts are for all the following items.

  • Social security wages.

  • Social security tips.

  • Medicare wages and tips.

Must You Deposit Your Taxes?

If your liability for 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-SS. See the Federal Tax Deposit Requirements for Form 944-SS Filers chart below. 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-SS. Designated Form 944-SS 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-SS for the year.

Federal Tax Deposit Requirements for Form 944-SS 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. 
Ifyou are unsure that your 
taxliability for the year will 
be lessthan $2,500, deposit 
under therules 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  
yourfourth quarter tax liability  
is less than $2,500, you may 
pay the fourth quarter's tax  
liability with Form 944-SS.
$2,500 or more for the quarter You must deposit monthly,  
or semiweekly, depending  
onyour deposit schedule. But,  
ifyou accumulate $100,000 or  
more of taxes on any day,you  
must deposit the tax bythe  
next business day. See section 8 of Pub. 80 (Circular SS).

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-SS filers is different than the lookback period for Form 941-SS filers, so your deposit schedule may have changed. For more information, see section 8 of Pub. 80 (Circular SS).

Beginning January 1, 2011, the IRS will use business days to determine the timeliness of deposits. Business days are any day that is not a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday in the District of Columbia. Legal holidays in the District of Columbia are provided in Pub. 509, Tax Calendars, and Pub. 80 (Circular SS). To provide transitional relief for 2011, the IRS will not assert penalties for federal tax deposits that are untimely solely because the depositor treated a statewide legal holiday as if it were a legal holiday in the District of Columbia. See Notice 2010-87, 2010-52 I.R.B. 908, available at www.irs.gov/irb/2010-52_IRB/ar12.html.

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-SS on time.

  • Report your tax liability accurately in Part 2 of Form 944-SS.

  • Submit valid checks for tax payments.

  • Give accurate Forms W-2AS, W-2CM, W-2GU, or W-2VI to employees.

  • File Form W-3SS and Copies A of Form W-2AS, W-2CM, W-2GU, or W-2VI with the SSA on time and accurately.

Penalties and interest are charged on taxes paid late and returns filed late at a rate set by law. See section 8 of Pub. 80 (Circular SS) for details. If you receive a notice about penalties and interest after you file this return, send us an explanation and we will determine if you meet reasonable-cause criteria. Do not attach an explanation when you file your return.

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-SS, 944-X, or Form 941-X.

A trust fund recovery penalty may apply if social security and Medicare taxes that must be withheld are not withheld 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 these taxes, and who acted willfully in not doing so. For details, see section 8 of Pub. 80 (Circular SS).

Where Should You File?

Form 944-SS with payment Form 944-SS without payment
Internal Revenue Service 
P.O. Box 105273 
Atlanta, GA 30348-5273
Internal Revenue Service 
P.O. Box 409101 
Ogden, UT 84409

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


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