Internal Revenue Bulletin:  2005-16 

April 18, 2005 

Rev. Proc. 2005-21

General Rules and Specifications for Substitute Form 941 and Schedule B (Form 941)


Section 1 - Purpose

.01 The purpose of this publication is to provide general rules and specifications from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for paper and computer-generated substitutes for the newly revised January 2005 version of Form 941, Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return, and Schedule B (Form 941), Report of Tax Liability for Semiweekly Schedule Depositors.

.02 This publication provides measurements and printing specifications for substitute Form 941 and Schedule B (Form 941). If you need more in-depth information on who must complete the forms and how to complete them, see the Instructions for Form 941 and Publication 15 (Circular E), Employer's Tax Guide, or visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov.

.03 Forms should not be submitted to the IRS for specific approval. If you are uncertain of any specification and want it clarified, you may submit a letter citing the specification and your understanding of the specification, and enclose an example of the form (if appropriate) to:

Internal Revenue Service
Attn: Substitute Forms Program
SE:W:CAR:MP:T:T:SP, IR-6406
1111 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20024

Note. Allow at least 30 days for the IRS to respond.

.04 However, software developers and form producers should send a blank copy of their substitute Form 941 and Schedule B (Form 941) in pdf format to Victor.V.Martin@irs.gov. The purpose is not specifically for approval but to assist the IRS in preparing to scan these forms. Submitters will only receive comments if a significant problem is discovered through this process. Submitters are not expected to delay marketing their forms in order to receive feedback. In no case should submitters include “live” taxpayer data.

Section 2 - What's New

.01 We extensively revised Form 941 and Schedule B (Form 941) to enable the IRS to scan the forms and to make them easier to complete. Optical scanning of tax returns enables the IRS to capture data more accurately and efficiently. This will reduce our need to contact filers because of an error in recording amounts reported on their returns.

.02 Because scanning requires conformity, we are publishing this revenue procedure to provide specifications for producing substitutes for the new revisions of Form 941 and Schedule B (Form 941). It is acceptable to produce substitutes of Form 941 and Schedule B (Form 941) using the official IRS form as posted on the IRS website or to produce substitutes based on the format developed by the software industry, which uses a 6x10 grid. Either format must be precisely followed.

.03 We now require filers to check a box at the top of Form 941 to indicate the tax period. We also require that line 1 (“number of employees”) be completed for each quarter. We combined income and social security tax adjustments into a single line (line 7) and no longer require a supporting statement for tips or group-term life insurance adjustments. Because Form 941 is now two pages, filers must enter their name, Employer Identification Number (EIN), and signature on page 2.

.04 There is a new form for reporting discrepancies between Forms 941 and Forms W-2. We recently developed Schedule D (Form 941), Report of Discrepancies Caused by Acquisitions, Statutory Mergers, or Consolidations. You may use Schedule D (Form 941) to explain the discrepancies between what an employer reported to the Social Security Administration on Form W-2 and what the employer reported to the IRS on Form 941, if the discrepancies are caused by acquisitions, statutory mergers, or consolidations. Areas where discrepancies may occur include social security wages, social security tips, Medicare wages and tips, federal income tax withheld, and advanced earned income payments. We did not include specifications for Schedule D (Form 941) in the exhibits (Section 7) because scanning of Schedule D (Form 941) is not available at this time. However, any substitute paper or computer-generated paper forms should generally follow the specifications for Form 941.

Section 3 - General Requirements for Reproducing IRS Official Form 941 and Schedule B (Form 941)

.01 Do not submit substitute Form 941 and Schedule B (Form 941) to the IRS for approval. Substitute Form 941 and Schedule B (Form 941) that completely conform to the specifications contained in this revenue procedure do not require prior approval from the IRS. Substitute forms filed with the IRS that do not conform may be returned.

.02 Print the form on paper that is 8.5 inches wide by 11 inches deep.

.03 Use white paper that meets generally-accepted weight, color, and quality standards (minimum 20lb. white bond paper).

Note. Reclaimed fiber in any percentage is permitted provided that the requirements of this standard are met.

.04 The IRS prefers printing Form 941 on both sides of a single sheet of paper, but it is acceptable to print on one side of each of two separate sheets of paper.

.05 Make substitute paper forms as identical to the official IRS-printed forms as possible.

.06 Print using nonreflective black inks.

.07 Use typefaces that are substantially identical in size and shape to the official forms and use rules and shading that are substantially identical to those on the official forms.

.08 Print the form ID codes in the upper right-hand corner of each form using nonreflective black, carbon-based, 12-point (minimum 10-point required) OCR-A font. Use the official paper over-the-counter IRS forms to develop your substitute paper forms. Print “9501” on page 1 of Form 941, “9502” on page 2 of Form 941, and “9503” on Schedule B (Form 941). See Section 4 for form ID codes for software-generated forms.

.09 Print the OMB number in the same location as on the official forms.

.10 Print all entry boxes and checkboxes exactly as shown on the official forms.

.11 Print your IRS-issued three-letter substitute form printer source code in the middle at the bottom of page 1 of Form 941.

.12 Print “For Privacy Act and Paperwork Reduction Act Notice, see the back of the Payment Voucher” at the bottom of page 1 of Form 941.

.13 Print “For Paperwork Reduction Act Notice, see separate instructions" at the bottom of Schedule B (Form 941).

.14 Do not print the form catalog number (“Cat. No.”) at the bottom of the forms or instructions.

.15 Do not print the Government Printing Office (GPO) symbol at the bottom of the forms or instructions.

.16 See Exhibits A and B in Section 7.

Section 4 - Reproducing Form 941 and Schedule B (Form 941) for Software-Generated Paper Forms

.01 You may use the 6x10 grid exhibits (C and D) at the end of this document to develop a software version of Form 941 and Schedule B (Form 941). Please follow the specifications exactly to develop the fields.

.02 If you are developing software that is designed using the 6x10 grid in the exhibits, you may make the following modifications. See Exhibits C and D in Section 7.

  • Use “9701” for page 1 of Form 941, “9702” for page 2 of Form 941, and “9703” for Schedule B (Form 941) as the form ID codes.

  • Place all boxes and entry spaces in the same fields as indicated in the 6x10 grid exhibits.

  • Use single lines for “Employer Identification Number” (EIN) and other entry areas in the entity section of page 1 of Form 941.

  • You do not need to use reverse type as shown on the IRS official form.

  • You do not need to pre-print decimal points in the data boxes. However, all amounts should be printed with decimal points and place holders for cents.

  • Use a single box for “state abbreviation” in line 14 of Form 941.

  • Delete the pre-printed formatting in the “date” box for line 16 and in Parts 5 and 6 of Form 941.

  • Delete the pre-printed formatting in the “Phone” box for Parts 4, 5, and 6.

  • Use a single box for “Personal Identification Number (PIN)” in Part 4 of Form 941.

  • You may delete all shading when using the 6x10 grid format.

.03 If producing both the form and the data or the form only, print your 3-letter IRS-issued form printer source code in Row 63, Columns 49-51 on page 1 of Form 941.

.04 If producing only the data on the form, print your 4-digit software industry form code in Row 4, Columns 58-61 on page 1 of Form 941. See the National Association of Computerized Tax Processors (NACTP) website at www.nactp.org for information on these codes.

.05 Print “For Privacy Act and Paperwork Reduction Act Notice, see the Payment Voucher” at the bottom of page 1 of Form 941.

.06 Print “For Paperwork Reduction Act Notice, see separate instructions" at the bottom of Schedule B (Form 941).

.07 Do not print the form catalog number (“Cat. No.”) at the bottom of the forms or instructions.

.08 Do not print the Government Printing Office (GPO) symbol at the bottom of the forms or instructions.

.09 To enable accurate scanning and processing, enter data on Form 941 and Schedule B (Form 941) as follows:

  • Use 12-point (minimum 10-point) Courier font (if possible).

  • Omit dollar signs, but use commas to show amounts.

  • Except for line 10, leave blank any data field with a value of zero.

  • Enter negative amounts in parentheses or with a minus sign.

  • Show name and EIN on all pages and attachments.

Section 5 - OMB Requirements for Substitute Forms

.01 The Paperwork Reduction Act (the Act) of 1995 (Public Law 104-13) requires that:

  • The OMB approves all IRS tax forms that are subject to the Act.

  • Each IRS form contains the OMB approval number, if required. (The official OMB numbers may be found on the official IRS printed forms and are also shown in the exhibits.)

  • Each IRS form (or its instructions) states:

    1. Why the IRS needs the information,

    2. How it will be used, and

    3. Whether or not the information is required to be furnished to the IRS.

.02 This information must be provided to any users of official or substitute IRS forms or instructions.

.03 The OMB requirements for substitute IRS forms are:

  • Any substitute form or substitute statement to a recipient must show the OMB number as it appears on the official IRS form.

  • For Form 941 and Schedule B (Form 941), the OMB number must appear exactly as shown on the official IRS form.

  • For any form, the OMB number must use one of the following formats.

    1. OMB No. XXXX-XXXX (preferred) or

    2. OMB# XXXX-XXXX (acceptable).

.04 If no instructions are provided to users on your forms, you must furnish to them the exact text of the Privacy Act and Paperwork Reduction Act Notice.

Section 6 - Reproducible Copies of Forms

.01 You can order official IRS forms and information copies of federal tax materials by calling the IRS National Distribution Center at 1-800-829-3676. Other ways to get federal tax material include:

  • The Internet at www.irs.gov.

  • GPO Superintendent of Documents Bookstores.

  • CD-ROM.

.02 The IRS also offers an alternative to downloading electronic files and provides current and prior year access to tax forms and instructions through its Federal Tax Forms CD-ROM. Order Publication 1796, IRS Federal Tax Products CD-ROM, by using the IRS website at www.irs.gov/cdorders or by calling 1-877-CDFORMS (1-877-233-6767).

Section 7 - Exhibits

.01 Please follow the specifications indicated in the following exhibits to produce substitute Form 941 and Schedule B (Form 941).

.02 These forms are subject to review and possible change as required. Therefore, employers are cautioned against overstocking supplies of privately-printed substitutes.

.03 Do not submit substitute Form 941 and Schedule B (Form 941) to the IRS for approval. Substitute Form 941 and Schedule B (Form 941) that completely conform to the specifications contained in this revenue procedure may be privately printed without prior approval from the IRS. Substitute forms filed with the IRS that do not conform may be returned. See Section 3 of this publication.

This exhibit shows the dimensions of Page 1 of the January 2005 Revision
of Form 941 for purposes of substitute form producers and software vendors.
 The exhibit applies vertical and horizontal rules to the official IRS over-the-counter
paper version of the form to indicate the size and location of various items
on the form.

This exhibit shows the dimensions of Page 2 of the January 2005 Revision
of Form 941 for purposes of substitute form producers and software vendors.
 The exhibit applies vertical and horizontal rules to the official IRS over-the-counter
paper version of the form to indicate the size and location of various items
on the form.

This exhibit shows the dimensions of the January 2005 Revision of Schedule
B of Form 941 for purposes of substitute form producers and software vendors.
 The exhibit applies vertical and horizontal rules to the official IRS over-the-counter
paper version of the form to indicate the size and location of various items
on the schedule.

This exhibit shows Page 1 of the January 2005 Revision of Form 941 on
a 6x10 grid.  The grid layout is used to aid form producers and software vendors
in developing substitute Form 941.  The “6x10 Grid Version” is
slightly different from the official IRS version of Form 941, but it is completely
acceptable.

This exhibit shows Page 2 of the January 2005 Revision of Form 941 on
a 6x10 grid.  The grid layout is used to aid form producers and software vendors
in developing substitute Form 941.  The “6x10 Grid Version” is
slightly different from the official IRS version of the form, but it is completely
acceptable.

This exhibit shows the January 2005 Revision of Schedule B of Form 941
on a 6x10 grid.  The grid layout is used to aid form producers and software
vendors in developing substitute Schedule B of Form 941.  The “6x10
Grid Version” is slightly different from the official IRS version of
the schedule, but it is completely acceptable.

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