Publication 51 - Introductory Material


Future Developments

For the latest information about developments related to Publication 51 (Circular A), such as legislation enacted after it was published, go to www.irs.gov/pub51.

What's New

Social security and Medicare tax for 2014. The social security tax rate is 6.2% each for the employee and employer, unchanged from 2013. The social security wage base limit is $117,000. The Medicare tax rate is 1.45% each for the employee and employer, unchanged from 2013. There is no wage base limit for Medicare tax.Social security and Medicare taxes apply to the wages of household workers you pay $1,900 or more in cash or an equivalent form of compensation.

Withholding allowance. The 2014 amount for one withholding allowance on an annual basis is $3,950.

Change of responsible party. Beginning January 1, 2014, any entity with an employer identification number (EIN) must file Form 8822-B, Change of Address or Responsible Party—Business, to report the latest change to its responsible party. Form 8822-B must be filed within 60 days of the change. If the change in the identity of your responsible party occurred before 2014, and you have not previously notified the IRS of the change, file Form 8822-B before March 1, 2014, reporting only the most recent change. For a definition of "responsible party", see the Form 8822-B instructions.

Same-sex marriage. For federal tax purposes, individuals of the same sex are considered married if they were lawfully married in a state (or foreign country) whose laws authorize the marriage of two individuals of the same sex, even if the state (or foreign country) in which they now live does not recognize same-sex marriage. For more information, see Revenue Ruling 2013-17, 2013-38 I.R.B. 201, available at www.irs.gov/irb/2013-38_IRB/ar07.html. Notice 2013-61 provides special administrative procedures for employers to make claims for refund or adjustments of overpayments of social security and Medicare taxes with respect to certain same-sex spouse benefits before expiration of the period of limitations. Notice 2013-61, 2013-44 I.R.B. 432, is available at www.irs.gov/irb/2013-44_IRB/ar10.html.

Reminders

Additional Medicare Tax withholding. In addition to withholding Medicare tax at 1.45%, you must withhold a 0.9% Additional Medicare Tax from wages you pay to an employee in excess of $200,000 in a calendar year. You are required to begin withholding Additional Medicare Tax in the pay period in which you pay wages in excess of $200,000 to an employee and continue to withhold it each pay period until the end of the calendar year. Additional Medicare Tax is only imposed on the employee. There is no employer share of Additional Medicare Tax. All wages that are subject to Medicare tax are subject to Additional Medicare Tax withholding if paid in excess of the $200,000 withholding threshold. For more information on what wages are subject to Medicare tax, see the chart, Special Rules for Various Types of Services and Payments, in section 15 of Publication 15 (Circular E), Employer's Tax Guide. For more information on Additional Medicare Tax, visit IRS.gov and enter “Additional Medicare Tax” in the search box.

Work opportunity tax credit for qualified tax-exempt organizations hiring qualified veterans. The work opportunity tax credit is available for eligible unemployed veterans who begin work on or after November 22, 2011, and before January 1, 2014. Qualified tax-exempt organizations that hire eligible unemployed veterans can claim the work opportunity tax credit against their payroll tax liability using Form 5884-C, Work Opportunity Credit for Qualified Tax-Exempt Organizations Hiring Qualified Veterans. For more information, visit IRS.gov and enter “work opportunity tax credit” in the search box.

Outsourcing payroll duties. Employers are responsible to ensure that tax returns are filed and deposits and payments are made, even if the employer contracts with a third party to perform these acts. The employer remains responsible if the third party fails to perform any required action. If you choose to outsource any of your payroll and related tax duties (that is, withholding, reporting, and paying over social security, Medicare, FUTA, and income taxes) to a third-party payer such as a payroll service provider or reporting agent, visit IRS.gov and enter “outsourcing payroll duties” in the search box for helpful information on this topic.

COBRA premium assistance credit. The credit for COBRA premium assistance payments applies to premiums paid for employees involuntarily terminated between September 1, 2008, and May 31, 2010, and to premiums paid for up to 15 months. For more information, see COBRA premium assistance credit under Introduction.

Compensation paid to H-2A foreign agricultural workers. Report compensation of $600 or more paid to foreign agricultural workers who entered the country on H-2A visas in box 1 of Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. Compensation paid to H-2A workers for agricultural labor performed in connection with this visa is not subject to social security and Medicare taxes, and therefore should not be reported as wages subject to social security tax (line 2), Medicare tax (line 4), or Additional Medicare Tax withholding (line 6) on Form 943, Employer's Annual Federal Tax Return for Agricultural Employees, and should not be reported as social security wages (box 3) or Medicare wages (box 5) on Form W-2. On Form W-2, do not check box 13 (Statutory employee), as H-2A workers are not statutory employees.An employer is not required to withhold federal income tax from compensation it pays an H-2A worker for agricultural labor performed in connection with this visa unless the worker asks for withholding and the employer agrees. In that case, the worker must give the employer a completed Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate. Federal income tax withheld should be reported on Form 943, line 8, and in box 2 of Form W-2.These reporting rules apply when the H-2A worker provides his or her taxpayer identification number (TIN) to the employer. For the rules relating to backup withholding and reporting when the H-2A worker does not provide a TIN, see the Instructions for Form 1099-MISC and the Instructions for Form 945.

Additional employment tax information. Visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov/businesses and click on Employment Taxes under Businesses Topics. For employment tax information by telephone, call 1-800-829-4933 or 1-800-829-4059 (TDD/TTY for persons who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability) Monday–Friday from 7:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m. local time (Alaska and Hawaii follow Pacific time). Additionally, you can call IRS TeleTax at 1-800-829-4477 for recorded information by topic.

Disregarded entities and qualified subchapter S subsidiaries (QSubs). Eligible single-owner disregarded entities and QSubs are treated as separate entities for employment tax purposes. Eligible single-member entities that have not elected to be taxed as corporations must report and pay employment taxes on wages paid to their employees using the entities' own names and EINs. See Regulations sections 1.1361-4(a)(7) and 301.7701-2(c)(2)(iv).

Differential wage payments. Qualified differential wage payments made by employers to individuals serving in the Armed Forces after 2008 are subject to income tax withholding but not social security, Medicare, or FUTA taxes. For more information, see Publication 15 (Circular E).

Federal tax deposits must be made by electronic funds transfer. You must use electronic funds transfer to make all federal tax deposits. Generally, electronic fund transfers are made using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). If you do not want to use EFTPS, you can arrange for your tax professional, financial institution, payroll service, or other trusted third party to make electronic deposits on your behalf. Also, you may arrange for your financial institution to initiate a same-day wire payment on your behalf. EFTPS is a free service provided by the Department of Treasury. Services provided by your tax professional, financial institution, payroll service, or other third party may have a fee.For more information on making federal tax deposits, see How To Deposit in section 7. To get more information about EFTPS or to enroll in EFTPS, visit www.eftps.gov or call 1-800-555-4477 or 1-800-733-4829 (TDD). Additional information about EFTPS is also available in Publication 966, Electronic Federal Tax Payment System: A Guide To Getting Started.

Electronic filing and payment. Now, more than ever before, businesses can enjoy the benefits of filing tax returns and paying their taxes electronically. Whether you rely on a tax professional or handle your own taxes, the IRS offers you convenient programs to make it easier.Spend less time and worry on taxes and more time running your business. Use e-file and the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) to your benefit.

  • For e-file, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov/efile for additional information.

  • For EFTPS, visit www.eftps.gov or call EFTPS Customer Service at 1-800-555-4477 (business), 1-800-316-6541 (individual), or 1-800-733-4829 (TDD) for additional information.

  • For electronic filing of Form W-2, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/employer.

If you are filing your tax return or paying your federal taxes electronically, a valid EIN is required. If a valid EIN is not provided, the return or payment will not be processed. This may result in penalties and delays in processing your return or payment.

Electronic funds withdrawal (EFW). If you file Form 943 electronically, you can e-file and e-pay (electronic funds withdrawal) the balance due in a single step using tax preparation software or through a tax professional. However, do not use EFW to make federal tax deposits. For more information on paying your taxes using EFW, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov/e-pay. A fee may be charged to file electronically.

Credit or debit card payments.  Employers can pay the balance due shown on Form 943 by credit or debit card. Do not use a credit or debit card to make federal tax deposits. For more information on paying your taxes with a credit or debit card, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov/e-pay.

When you hire a new employee. Ask each new employee to complete the 2014 Form W-4 or its Spanish version, Formulario W-4(SP), Certificado de Exención de Retenciones del Empleado. Also, ask the employee to show you his or her social security card so that you can record the employee's name and social security number accurately. If the employee has lost the card or recently changed names, have the employee apply for a duplicate or corrected card. If the employee does not have a card, have the employee apply for one on Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. See section 1 for more information.

Eligibility for employment. You must verify that each new employee is legally eligible to work in the United States. This includes completing the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. You can get the form from USCIS offices or by calling 1-800-870-3676. Contact the USCIS at 1-800-375-5283, or visit the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov for more information.

New hire reporting.  You are required to report any new employee to a designated state new-hire registry. A new employee is an employee who has not previously been employed by you or was previously employed by you but has been separated from such prior employment for at least 60 consecutive days. Many states accept a copy of Form W-4 with employer information added. Visit the Office of Child Support Enforcement's website at www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/newhire for more information.

Dishonored payments. Any form of payment that is dishonored and returned from a financial institution is subject to a penalty. The penalty is $25 or 2% of the payment, whichever is more. However, the penalty on dishonored payments of $24.99 or less is an amount equal to the payment. For example, a dishonored payment of $18 is charged a penalty of $18.

Forms in Spanish. You can provide Formulario W-4(SP) in place of Form W-4 to your Spanish-speaking employees. For more information, see Publicación 17(SP), El Impuesto Federal sobre los Ingresos (Para Personas Físicas).For nonemployees, Formulario W-9(SP), Solicitud y Certificación del Número de Identificación del Contribuyente, may be used in place of Form W-9, Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification.References in this publication to Form W-4 or Form W-9 also apply to their equivalent Spanish translations—Formulario W-4(SP) or Formulario W-9(SP).

Information returns. You may be required to file information returns to report certain types of payments made during the year. For example, you must file Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income, to report payments of $600 or more to persons not treated as employees (for example, independent contractors) for services performed for your trade or business. For details about filing Forms 1099 and for information about required electronic filing, see the General Instructions for Certain Information Returns for general information and the separate, specific instructions for each information return that you file (for example, Instructions for Form 1099-MISC). Generally, do not use Forms 1099 to report wages or other compensation that you paid to employees; report these amounts on Form W-2.See the General Instructions for Forms W-2 and W-3 for details about filing Forms W-2 and for information about required electronic filing. If you file 250 or more Forms W-2, you must file them electronically. SSA will not accept Forms W-2 and W-3 filed on any magnetic media.

Information reporting customer service site. The IRS operates the Enterprise Computing Center—Martinsburg, a centralized customer service site, to answer questions about reporting on Forms W-2, W-3, 1099, and other information returns. If you have questions related to reporting on information returns, you may call 1-866-455-7438 (toll free), 304-263-8700 (toll call), or 304-267-3367 (TDD/TTY for persons who are deaf, heard of hearing, or have a speech disability). The call site can also be reached by email at mccirp@irs.gov. Do not include tax identification numbers (TINs) or attachments in email correspondence because electronic mail is not secure.

Web-based application for an employer identification number (EIN). You can apply for an employer identification number (EIN) online by visiting IRS.gov and clicking on the Apply for an EIN Online link under Tools.

When a crew leader furnishes workers to you. Record the crew leader's name, address, and EIN. See sections 2 and 10.

Change of address. Use Form 8822-B to notify the IRS of an address change. Do not mail form 8822-B with your employment tax return.

Ordering forms and publications. You can order your 2013 and 2014 employment tax and information return forms, instructions, and publications online at www.irs.gov/businesses. Click on the Online Ordering for Information Returns and Employer Returns. You can also visit www.irs.gov/formspubs to download other forms and publications.Instead of ordering paper Forms W-2 and W-3, consider filing them electronically using the Social Security Administration's (SSA) free e-file service. Visit the SSA's Employer W-2 Filing Instructions & Information website at  
www.socialsecurity.gov/employer, to register for Business Services Online. You will be able to create and file “fill-in” versions of Forms W-2 with SSA and can print out completed copies of Forms W-2 for filing with state and local governments, distribution to your employees, and for your records. Form W-3 will be created for you based on your Forms W-2.

Tax Questions.  If you have a tax question, check the information available on IRS.gov or call 1-800-829-4933 (businesses), 1-800-829-1040 (individuals), or 1-800-829-4059 (TDD/TTY for persons who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability) Monday–Friday from 7:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m. local time (Alaska and Hawaii follow Pacific time). We cannot answer tax questions sent to the address provided later for comments and suggestions.

Recordkeeping. Keep all records of employment taxes for at least 4 years. These should be available for IRS review. Your records should include the following information.

  • Your employer identification number (EIN).

  • Amounts and dates of all wage, annuity, and pension payments.

  • Names, addresses, social security numbers, and occupations of employees and recipients.

  • Any employee copies of Forms W-2 and W-2c returned to you as undeliverable.

  • Dates of employment for each employee.

  • Periods for which employees and recipients were paid while absent due to sickness or injury and the amount and weekly rate of payments you or third-party payers made to them.

  • Copies of employees' and recipients' income tax withholding allowance certificates (Forms W-4, W-4(SP), W-4P, and W-4S).

  • Dates and amounts of tax deposits you made and acknowledgment numbers for deposits made by EFTPS.

  • Copies of returns filed and confirmation numbers.

  • Records of fringe benefits and expense reimbursements provided to your employees, including substantiation.

If a crew leader furnished you with farmworkers, you must keep a record of the name, permanent mailing address, and EIN of the crew leader. If the crew leader has no permanent mailing address, record his or her present address.

Private delivery services. You can use certain private delivery services designated by the IRS to send tax returns and payments. The list includes only the following.

  • DHL Express (DHL): DHL Same Day Service.

  • Federal Express (FedEx): FedEx Priority Overnight, FedEx Standard Overnight, FedEx 2Day, FedEx International Priority, and FedEx International First.

  • United Parcel Service (UPS): UPS Next Day Air, UPS Next Day Air Saver, UPS 2nd Day Air, UPS 2nd Day Air A.M., UPS Worldwide Express Plus, and UPS Worldwide Express.

For the IRS mailing address to use if you are using a private delivery service, go to IRS.gov and enter "private delivery service" in the search box.Your private delivery service can tell you how to get written proof of the mailing date.

Private delivery services cannot deliver items to P.O. boxes. You must use the U.S. Postal Service to mail any item to an IRS P.O. box address.

Photographs of missing children. The IRS is a proud partner with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Photographs of missing children selected by the Center may appear in this publication on pages that would otherwise be blank. You can help bring these children home by looking at the photographs and calling 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) if you recognize a child.

Calendar

The following are important dates and responsibilities. See section 7 for information about depositing taxes reported on Forms 941, 943, 944, and 945. Also see Publication 509, Tax Calendars.

 

If any date shown below for filing a return, furnishing a form, or depositing taxes falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the due date is the next business day. A statewide legal holiday delays a filing due date only if the IRS office where you are required to file is located in that state. However, a statewide legal holiday does not delay the due date of federal tax deposits. See Deposits on Business Days Only in section 7. For any filing due date, you will meet the “file” or “furnish” requirement if the envelope containing the return or form 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 delivery service on or before the due date. See Private delivery services under Reminders.

By January 31 . 

  • File Form 943. See section 8 for more information on Form 943. If you deposited all Form 943 taxes when due, you have 10 additional calendar days to file.

  • Furnish each employee with a completed Form W-2.

  • Furnish each recipient to whom you paid $600 or more in nonemployee compensation with a completed Form 1099 (for example, Form 1099-MISC).

  • File Form 940, Employer's Annual Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Tax Return. See section 10 for more information on FUTA. If you deposited all the FUTA tax when due, you have 10 additional calendar days to file.

  • File Form 945, Annual Return of Withheld Federal Income Tax, to report any nonpayroll federal income tax withheld in 2013. If you deposited all Form 945 taxes when due, you have 10 additional calendar days to file.

By February 15. Ask for a new Form W-4 or Formulario W-4(SP) from each employee who claimed exemption from federal income tax withholding last year.

On February 16. Any Form W-4 claiming exemption from withholding for the previous year has now expired. Begin withholding for any employee who previously claimed exemption from withholding but has not given you a new Form W-4 for the current year. If the employee does not give you a new Form W-4, withhold tax based on the last valid Form W-4 you have for the employee that does not claim exemption from withholding or, if one does not exist, as if he or she is single with zero withholding allowances. See section 5 for more information. If the employee furnishes a new Form W-4 claiming exemption from withholding after February 15, you may apply the exemption to future wages, but do not refund taxes withheld while the exempt status was not in place.

By February 28. 

  • File paper Forms 1099 and 1096. File Copy A of all paper Forms 1099 with Form 1096, Annual Summary and Transmittal of U.S. Information Returns, with the IRS. For electronically filed returns, see By March 31 below.

  • File paper Forms W-2 and W-3. File Copy A of all paper Forms W-2 with Form W-3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements, with the SSA. For electronically filed returns, see By March 31 next.

By March 31.  File electronic Forms W-2 and 1099. File electronic Forms W-2 with the SSA and Forms 1099 with the IRS. For more information on reporting Form W-2 information to the SSA electronically, visit the SSA's Employer W-2 Filing Instructions & Information webpage at www.socialsecurity.gov/employer. For information on filing information returns electronically with the IRS, see Publication 1220, Specifications for Electronic Filing of Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, 5498, 8935, and W-2G.

By April 30, July 31, October 31, and January 31.  Deposit FUTA taxes. Deposit FUTA tax if the undeposited amount is over $500.

Before December 1. Remind employees to submit a new Form W-4 if their marital status or withholding allowances have changed or will change for the next year.

Introduction

This publication is for employers of agricultural workers (farmworkers). It contains information that you may need to comply with the laws for agricultural labor (farmwork) relating to social security and Medicare taxes, FUTA tax, and withheld federal income tax (employment taxes). Agricultural employers report social security and Medicare taxes and withheld federal income tax on Form 943 and report FUTA tax on Form 940.

If you have nonfarm employees, see Publication 15 (Circular E). If you have employees in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, see Publication 80 (Circular SS). Publication 15-A, Employer's Supplemental Tax Guide, contains more employment-related information, including information about sick pay and pension income. Publication 15-B, Employer's Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits, contains information about the employment tax treatment and valuation of various types of noncash compensation.

Comments and suggestions.   We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.

  You can write to us at the following address:

 
Internal Revenue Service 
Tax Forms and Publications Division  
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526 
Washington, DC 20224

  We respond to many letters by telephone. Therefore, it would be helpful if you would include your daytime phone number, including the area code, in your correspondence.

  You can also send us comments from www.irs.gov/formspubs. Click on More Information and then click on Comment on Tax Forms and Publications.

  Although we cannot respond individually to each email, we do appreciate your feedback and will consider your comments as we revise our tax forms, instructions, and publications.

COBRA premium assistance credit.   The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) provides certain former employees, retirees, spouses, former spouses, and dependent children the right to temporary continuation of health coverage at group rates. COBRA generally covers multiemployer health plans and health plans maintained by private-sector employers (other than churches) with 20 or more full and part-time employees. Parallel requirements apply to these plans under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Under the Public Health Service Act, COBRA requirements apply also to health plans covering state or local government employees. Similar requirements apply under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and under some state laws. For the premium assistance (or subsidy) discussed below, these requirements are all referred to as COBRA requirements.

  Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), employers are allowed a credit against “payroll taxes” (referred to in this publication as “employment taxes”) for providing COBRA premium assistance to assistance eligible individuals. For periods of COBRA continuation coverage beginning after February 16, 2009, a group health plan must treat an assistance eligible individual as having paid the required COBRA continuation coverage premium if the individual elects COBRA coverage and pays 35% of the amount of the premium.

  An assistance eligible individual is a qualified beneficiary of an employer's group health plan who is eligible for COBRA continuation coverage during the period beginning September 1, 2008, and ending May 31, 2010, due to the involuntarily termination from employment of a covered employee during the period and elects continuation COBRA coverage. The assistance for the coverage can last up to 15 months.

  Employees terminated during the period beginning September 1, 2008, and ending May 31, 2010, who received a severance package that delayed the start of the COBRA continuation coverage, may still be eligible for premium assistance for COBRA continuation coverage. For more information, see Notice 2009-27, 2009-16 I.R.B. 838, available at www.irs.gov/irb/2009-16_irb/ar09.html.

  Administrators of the group health plans (or other entities) that provide or administer COBRA continuation coverage must provide notice to assistance eligible individuals of the COBRA premium assistance.

  The 65% of the premium not paid by the assistance eligible individual is reimbursed to the employer maintaining the group health plan. The reimbursement is made through a credit against the employer's employment tax liabilities. For information on how to claim the credit, see the Instructions for Form 943. The credit is treated as a deposit made on the first day of the return period. In the case of a multiemployer plan, the credit is claimed by the plan, rather than the employer. In the case of an insured plan subject to state law continuation coverage requirements, the credit is claimed by the insurance company, rather than the employer.

  Anyone claiming the credit for COBRA premium assistance payments must maintain the following information to support their claim, including the following.
  • Information on the receipt of the assistance eligible individuals' 35% share of the premium including dates and amounts.

  • In the case of an insurance plan, a copy of invoice or other supporting statement from the insurance carrier and proof of timely payment of the full premium to the insurance carrier required under COBRA.

  • In the case of a self-insured plan, proof of the premium amount and proof of the coverage provided to the assistance eligible individuals.

  • Attestation of involuntary termination, including the date of the involuntary termination for each covered employee whose involuntary termination is the basis for eligibility for the subsidy.

  • Proof of each assistance eligible individual's eligibility for COBRA coverage and the election of COBRA coverage.

  • A record of the social security numbers (SSNs) of all covered employees, the amount of the subsidy reimbursed with respect to each covered employee, and whether the subsidy was for one individual or two or more individuals.

  For more information, visit IRS.gov and enter “COBRA” in the search box.

Useful Items - You may want to see:

Publication

  • 15 (Circular E), Employer's Tax Guide

  • 15-A Employer's Supplemental Tax Guide

  • 15-B Employer's Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits

  • 225 Farmer's Tax Guide

  • 535 Business Expenses

  • 583 Starting a Business and Keeping Records

  • 1635 Employer Identification Number: Understanding Your EIN


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