If you are a new employer, or new to dealing with federal employment tax, the first place to go for information is IRS Publication 15 (Circular E), Employer’s Tax Guide (PDF). This publication is revised each year and contains the basic information employers need to be able to collect adequate information so they can determine and pay their and their employees’ portion of employment tax liability, file correct tax returns, and withhold federal taxes, where necessary.
You may also want to consult the following Publications that include information specific to government entities:
- Publication 5138, Quick Reference Guide for Public Employers (PDF)
- Publication 963, Federal-State Reference Guide (PDF)
- Publication 15-A, Employer’s Supplemental Tax Guide (PDF)
- Publication 15-B, Employer’s Guide to Fringe Benefits (PDF)
- Publication 5137, Fringe Benefit Guide (PDF)
- Publication 1281, Backup Withholding for Missing and Incorrect Names/TINs (PDF)
The following list includes most federal tax forms and instructions you are likely to need to process payroll and file necessary returns with the IRS. You can download the forms and instructions from the links. Note: Some of the forms are information copies only and cannot be used for filing. Click here to view a list of all IRS forms and publications
Form W-3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements (PDF). This form is used to transmit the Form W-2 to the SSA.
Form W-3C, Transmittal of Corrected Wage and Tax Statements (PDF). This form is used to transmit Forms W-2c to the Social Security Administration.
Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Certificate (PDF). This form must be furnished to each employee upon hiring to determine correct withholding. Employee may submit new certificate at any time.
Form W-9, Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification (PDF) (with instructions (PDF)). This form must be furnished to each person who receives a payment from a government entity in order to verify the recipient’s taxpayer identification number. Examples of such payments are interest payments made by a government entity and payments made to persons who are not employees of the government entity.
Form 843, Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement (PDF) (with instructions (PDF)). This form is used to request a refund or request an abatement of certain taxes, interest and penalties, including those related to employment tax.
Form 941, Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return (PDF) (with instructions (PDF)). This form must be filed each quarter by an employer, including a government entity, who pays wages during a calendar quarter.
Form 941-X, Adjusted Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return or Claim for Refund (PDF) (with instructions (PDF)). This is an amended return to correct information reported on a previous quarter Form 941.
Form 944, Employer's Annual Federal Tax Return (PDF) (with instructions (PDF)). This form may be filed by certain employers with small payrolls who have been notified by the IRS that they can file on an annual basis, instead of filing Form 941 quarterly.
Form 945, Annual Income Tax Withholding Return (PDF) (with instructions (PDF)). This form must be filed by each employer, including a government entity, to report withholding (including back up withholding) on payments other than wages. Examples of such payments made by a government entity are pensions, annuities, and IRAs.
Form 1099-G, Certain Government Payments (PDF) (with instructions (PDF)). This form is used by federal, state, or local governmental entities to report payments of unemployment compensation, tax refunds, taxable grants, and certain other payments.
Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income (PDF) (with instructions (PDF)). This form must be filed by any payer, including a government entity, who makes certain payments for services to recipients who are not employees.
Form 1096, Annual Summary and Transmittal of U.S. Information Returns (PDF). This form is used to transmit Form 1099-MISC to the IRS.
You may be required to provide the following non-tax forms to new employees. They are available from other federal agencies:
Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification (PDF). Required for all new hires. This form can be obtained from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Form SSA-1945, Statement Concerning Your Employment in a Job Not Covered by Social Security (PDF). Employees covered under a public retirement system, as well as other categories of government workers, may not be covered by social security. State and local government employers are required to notify employees hired on or after January 1, 2005, in jobs not covered by social security, of the effects of the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset. The law requires newly hired public employees to sign Form SSA-1945, indicating that they are aware of a possible reduction in their future social security benefit entitlement. You can view this webpage for more detailed information about this law.
For further online information about employer responsibilities, visit the Employment Taxes for Businesses page.