Topic no. 760, Form 943 – Reporting and deposit requirements for agricultural employers

Employers who paid wages to agricultural employees (farmworkers) that are subject to federal income tax withholding or Social Security and Medicare taxes must file a Form 943, Employer's Annual Federal Tax Return for Agricultural Employees. After you file your first Form 943, you must file a return for each year, even if you have no taxes to report, until you file a final return.

All cash wages that you pay to farmworkers are subject to federal income tax withholding and Social Security and Medicare taxes for any calendar year in which:

  • You pay an employee cash wages of $150 or more in a year for agricultural labor (farmwork), or
  • The total (cash and noncash) wages that you pay to all farmworkers is $2,500 or more.

There are some exceptions for hand-harvest workers you pay less than $150 during the year. 

Generally, you must file your Form 943 by January 31 of the year after you paid the wages. If you deposited all Form 943 taxes when due, you may file by February 10. When the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the due date is delayed until the next business day. To e-file your Form 943, see E-file Employment Tax Forms.

If your total employment taxes will exceed $2,500 in the year, you'll have to make electronic deposits throughout the year as a monthly schedule depositor or a semiweekly schedule depositor.

You'll use your lookback period to determine whether you must pay the tax according to a monthly or a semiweekly deposit schedule. For Form 943, the lookback period is the second calendar year preceding the current calendar year. For example, the lookback period for 2024 is 2022. If, during the lookback period, you reported $50,000 or less of tax on Form 943, you're a monthly schedule depositor. If you had over $50,000 of Form 943 tax, you're a semiweekly schedule depositor.

Additionally, if you accumulate $100,000 of liability in any deposit period, you must deposit the tax by the next business day, whether you're a monthly or semiweekly schedule depositor. If you're a monthly schedule depositor and accumulate a $100,000 tax liability on any day of a calendar month, you become a semiweekly schedule depositor on the next day and remain so for at least the rest of the calendar year and for the following calendar year.

Generally, you must use electronic funds transfer (EFT) to make all federal tax deposits. When depositing the taxes, using EFTPS: The Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, you'll have to make the deposit by 8 p.m. Eastern time the day before the due date to be considered timely.

Refer to Publication 15 (Section 11, Depositing Taxes) for more information. See also Topic no. 752, Filing Forms W-2 and W-3 and Topic no. 759, Form 940 – Employer's Annual Federal (FUTA) Tax Return – Filing and deposit requirements.

Information for employers of H-2A visa workers

Foreign agricultural workers temporarily admitted to the United States on H-2A visas are exempt from U.S. Social Security and Medicare taxes on payments for services performed under the H-2A visa. Their compensation isn't subject to mandatory income tax withholding unless backup withholding applies.

You may voluntarily withhold U.S. federal income tax from the H-2A worker's wages if both you and the worker agree. In that case, the worker must give the employer a completed Form W-4. The amount of federal income tax withheld is entered on Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement.

You must also report wages paid to an H-2A worker on a Form W-2 if the worker presents a valid taxpayer identification number and was paid $600 or more during the calendar year. You don't report any Social Security or Medicare wages or Social Security or Medicare taxes in the applicable boxes on the H-2A worker's Form W-2.

Wages may be subject to backup withholding at the rate of 24% if the H-2A worker didn't provide you with a valid taxpayer identification number and the aggregate annual wages you paid to the H-2A worker is at least $600. If backup withholding applies, then you must report the wages subject to backup withholding and the federal income tax withheld from those wages on Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Information and Form 945, Annual Return of Withheld Federal Tax. If an employer doesn't properly withhold the 24% tax from such payments, the employer may be liable for the amount of tax that should have been withheld.

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