Vision Payroll

October 30, 2011

IRS Releases 2011 Form 944

IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman
IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released the 2011 Form 944, Employer’s ANNUAL Federal Tax Return, and related instructions. Form 944 is designed so the smallest employers (those whose annual liability for social security, Medicare, and withheld federal income taxes is $1,000 or less) will only file once a year instead of every quarter.

Several Changes Have Been Made To the 2011 Form 944

The 2011 Form 944 has several new items. The new items include the following:

Employee Tax for Social Security Cut To 4.2%

The employee tax rate for social security has been cut to 4.2%, although the employer rate remains at 6.2%. The Medicare tax rate remains at 1.45% for both employees and employers.

COBRA Premium Assistance Credit Continues

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. The credit is claimed on line 9a.

Social Security Wage Base for 2011

Do not withhold or pay social security tax after an employee reaches $106,800 in social security wages for the year. There is no limit on the amount of wages subject to Medicare tax.

Advance Payment of Earned Income Credit (EIC)

The option of receiving advance payroll payments of EIC expired on December 31, 2010. Individuals eligible for EIC in 2011 can still claim the credit when they file their federal income tax return.

Electronic Deposit Requirement

Beginning January 1, 2011, you must deposit all depository taxes (such as employment tax, excise tax, and corporate income tax) electronically using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). Forms 8109 and 8109-B, Federal Tax Deposit Coupon, cannot be used after December 31, 2010.

Vision Payroll Will File Form 944 for Eligible Taxpayers

Contact Vision Payroll if you have further questions on Form 944.

January 14, 2011

Question of the Week: What Are 10 Hot Items for Payroll in 2011?

What Are 10 Hot Items for Payroll in 2011?
What Are 10 Hot Items for Payroll in 2011?
This week’s question comes from Seth, a company controller. It seems as if there are many changes in payroll recently. What are 10 hot items for payroll in 2011? Answer: The payroll industry and payroll departments have seen many changes as Congress uses the payroll and payroll tax system as a means to implement desired changes in social policy. Many items are new or revamped for 2011.

10 Hot Payroll Items in 2011

  1. 2011 Withholding Table Changes: Because of the recently passed Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (2010 Tax Act), employers should implement the 2011 withholding tables as soon as possible, but not later than January 31, 2011.
  2. Reduced Social Security Tax Rate for Employees: For 2011, the employee tax rate for Social Security is 4.2%, down from 6.2% in 2010. The employer rate remains at 6.2%.
  3. Expiration of Making Work Pay Credit: The Making Work Pay credit expired on December 31, 2010, resulting in higher federal withholding from many employees in 2011.
  4. Extension of COBRA Premium Assistance Credit: The credit for COBRA premium assistance payments has been extended to include premiums paid for employees involuntarily terminated between September 1, 2008, and May 31, 2010, and to premiums paid for up to 15 months.
  5. Advance Payment of Earned Income Credit (EIC) Discontinued: The option to receive advance payroll payments of EIC expired on December 31, 2010.
  6. Federal Tax Payments Must Be Made by Electronic Funds Transfer: With the discontinuation of Forms 8109 and 8109-B, most federal tax payments must now be made by electronic funds transfer.
  7. FUTA Tax Rate Scheduled to Decrease: Under current law, the FUTA tax rate will decrease from 6.2% to 6.0%, effective July 1, 2011.
  8. Withholding Allowance Amount Set at $3,700: For 2011, the amount for one withholding allowance on an annual basis is $3,700, up from $3,650 for 2009 and 2010.
  9. Aggregate Form 940 and Form 941 Filers Must File Schedule R: Agents must complete the appropriate Schedule R when filling an aggregate Form 940 or Form 941.
  10. Choose to File Form 941 Instead of Form 944: Employers notified that they should file Form 944, but who want to file Form 941 instead, may notify the IRS and request to file Form 941.

More Changes Expected Throughout 2011

Check VisionPayroll.com regularly as the only certain thing about payroll and payroll taxes for 2011 is that many more changes can be expected.

December 26, 2010

2010 Form W-2 Tips, Part 1, General Information

2010 Form W-2 Tips, Part 1, General Information
2010 Form W-2 Tips, Part 1, General Information
This is one in a continuing series on the 2010 Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, which employers must generally furnish to employees no later than January 31, 2011. Forms mailed on the due date are considered furnished if properly addressed. Employers unable to meet that deadline may file a request for extension of time to furnish the forms. Today we review general information regarding Form W-2.

Form W-2 Should Be Typed or Machine-Printed

Forms W-2 should be typed or machine-printed in black ink, using 12-point Courier font. Dollar signs and commas must be omitted, but decimal points and cents, even if zero, must be included. Forms W-2 must be prepared on a calendar year basis using pay dates, not work dates. Wages for work performed in 2009 and paid in 2010 are included and wages for work performed in 2010 and paid in 2011 are excluded.

Boxes a-f Contain Employee and Employer Identifying Information

Report the employee’s social security number (SSN) in box a. Employees who have applied for, but not received, an SSN should be reported with all zeroes and corrected on a Form W-2c. Enter in box b the employer’s employer identification number, not the owner’s SSN. Box c must contain the employer’s address as shown on Forms 941, 943, 944, CT-1 or Schedule H of Form 1040. Box d is an optional box for employer use to identify individual forms. Box e should report the employee’s name exactly as shown on the social security card. Suffixes such as Sr. or Jr. should only be included if on the social security card. Do not include professional and academic titles and degrees such as CPA or Ph.D. as part of the employee’s names. Names should not be changed on Form W-2 unless the employee has received a revised card from the Social Security Administration. The Address in box f should be the address where the employee receives mail. It is recommended that comma and periods not be used in delivery addresses. Foreign country names are not to be abbreviated.

Box 1, Wages, Tips, Other Compensation Is the Next Topic

The next topic in this continuing series will be Box 1, wages, tips, other compensation. Contact Vision Payroll with any questions on 2010 Form W-2.

December 1, 2010

Tip of the Week: IRS Releases 2010 Form 944

IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman
IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released the 2010 Form 944, Employer’s ANNUAL Federal Tax Return, and related instructions. Form 944 is designed so the smallest employers (those whose annual liability for social security, Medicare, and withheld federal income taxes is $1,000 or less) will only file once a year instead of every quarter.

Several Changes Have Been Made To the 2010 Form 944

The 2010 Form 944 has several new items. The new items include the following:

Qualified Employer’s Social Security Tax Exemption

Qualified employers are allowed an exemption for their share (6.2%) of social security tax on wages/tips paid to qualified employees after March 31, 2010, and before January 1, 2011.

Qualified Employer’s Social Security Tax Credit

Qualified employers are allowed a credit for their share (6.2%) of social security tax on wages/tips paid to qualified employees after March 18, 2010, and before April 1, 2010.

COBRA Premium Assistance Credit Extended

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.

Social Security Wage Base for 2010 and 2011

Do not withhold or pay social security tax after an employee reaches $106,800 in social security wages for the year. There is no limit on the amount of wages subject to Medicare tax.

Advance Payment of Earned Income Credit (EIC)

The option of receiving advance payroll payments of EIC expires on December 31, 2010. Individuals eligible for EIC in 2011 can still claim the credit when they file their federal income tax return. Individuals who receive advance payments of EIC in 2010 must file a 2010 federal income tax return.

Electronic Deposit Requirement

The IRS has issued proposed regulations under §6302 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 which provide that beginning January 1, 2011, you must deposit all depository taxes (such as employment tax, excise tax, and corporate income tax) electronically using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). Under these proposed regulations, which are expected to be finalized by December 31, 2010, Forms 8109 and 8109-B, Federal Tax Deposit Coupon, cannot be used after December 31, 2010.

Vision Payroll Will File Form 944 for Eligible Taxpayers

Contact Vision Payroll if you have further questions on Form 944.

December 27, 2009

2009 Form W-2 Tips, Part 1, General Information

This is one in a continuing series on the 2009 Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, which employers must generally furnish to employees no later than February 1, 2010. Forms mailed on the due date are considered furnished if properly addressed. Employers unable to meet that deadline may file a request for extension of time to furnish the forms. Today we review general information regarding Form W-2.

Forms W-2 should be typed or machine-printed in black ink, using 12-point Courier font. Dollar signs and commas must be omitted, but decimal points and cents, even if zero, must be included. Forms W-2 must be prepared on a calendar year basis using pay dates, not work dates. Wages for work performed in 2008 and paid in 2009 are included and wages for work performed in 2009 and paid in 2010 are excluded.

Report the employee’s social security number (SSN) in box a. Employees who have applied for, but not received, an SSN should be reported with all zeroes and corrected on a Form W-2c. Enter in box b the employer’s employer identification number, not the owner’s SSN. Box c must contain the employer’s address as shown on Forms 941, 943, 944, CT-1 or Schedule H of Form 1040. Box d is an optional box for employer use to identify individual forms. Box e should report the employee’s name exactly as shown on the social security card. Suffixes such as Sr. or Jr. should only be included if on the social security card. Do not include professional and academic titles and degrees such as CPA or Ph.D. as part of the employee’s names. Names should not be changed on Form W-2 unless the employee has received a revised card from the Social Security Administration. The Address in box f should be the address where the employee receives mail. Foreign country names are not to be abbreviated.

The next topic in this continuing series will be Box 1, wages, tips, other compensation. Contact Vision Payroll with any questions on 2009 Form W-2.

October 30, 2009

Question of the Week: How Do I Opt Out of Filing Form 944?

This week’s question comes from Rick, a restaurant owner. I started my business in June of this year. Since I didn’t have a big payroll in June, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently informed me that I should file Form 944. Since my payroll will be much higher in 2010, I should file Form 941. How do I opt out of filing Form 944? Answer: In Rev. Proc. 2009-51, the IRS explained the procedure to opt out of filing Form 944. Employers who have previously filed Form 941 or Form 944 should call or write the IRS stating that they want to opt out of filing Form 944 before April 2, 2010. New businesses should call or write the IRS before the second day “of the month that the first required Form 941 for the current tax year is due.” In 2010, those days are April 2, 2010, July 2, 2010, October 2, 2010, and January 4, 2011 (due to automatic extensions for holiday and weekend days). Telephone numbers and mailing addresses are provided in Rev. Proc. 2009-51. Contact Vision Payroll if you have any questions on opting out of Form 944.

February 11, 2009

Tip of the Week: File Form W-3 Correctly

Employers must file the 2008 Form W-3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements, on or before March 2, 2009 if filing by paper or March 31, 2009 if filing by an approved electronic means.

Employers should check only one box in section b, Kind of Payer. The only exception is for Third-party sick pay, which should be checked along with one other box if third-party sick pay is reported on the Form W-3.

Box c should include only the total number of valid Forms W-2 filed, not including voids.

Box h should contain other EINs (employer identification numbers) used on Form 941, Form 943, Form 944, or Form CT-1 during the year. An example is a prior owner for whom the filer is a successor.

Boxes 1 through 11 should contain a simple arithmetic sum of all the Forms W-2 filed with this Form W-3 for the respective box.

Box 12 should also contain a sum of all the Forms W-2 filed with this Form W-3, but should be totaled irrespective of and without reference to any code.

Box 14 should contain the “federal income tax withheld on third-party payments of sick pay” even though the amount was already reported in box 2.

Box 15 should contain the two-character abbreviation for the state being reported, but if more than one state is reported, only an X should be entered. Likewise, boxes 16-19 should include the total for all such boxes, regardless of how many are reported.

Employers should reconcile Forms W-3 not only to the individual Forms W-2, but also to the sum of Forms 941, Forms 943, Forms 944, or Forms CT-1 filed for the year.

Vision Payroll files Forms W-3 for all clients electronically with the Social Security Administration. Contact Vision Payroll if you have any questions on Form W-3.

January 2, 2009

Question of the Week: Should I File Form 944 Instead of Form 941?

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This week’s question comes from Scott, a small business owner. I have received notification from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that I should file Form 944. Should I file Form 944 instead of Form 941? Answer: Employers who are notified that they should file Form 944 must file Form 944 unless they opt out of filing Form 944. In TD 9440, the IRS issued revised “temporary regulations relating to the annual filing of Federal employment tax returns and requirements for employment tax deposits.” These regulations make participation in filing Form 944 voluntary, beginning in 2010. According to Rev. Proc. 2009-13, employers are eligible to opt out in 2009 if they meet one of the following conditions:

  1. The employer anticipates that its employment tax liability for tax year 2009 will be more than $1,000; or
  2. The employer wants to file electronically quarterly Forms 941 for tax year 2009.

Eligible employers who had previously filed Form 941 or Form 944 must either call the IRS before April 2, 2009 or have written correspondence postmarked no later than March 15, 2009 to opt out of filing the 2009 Form 944.

Businesses newly required to Form 941 or Form 944 have their due dates based on the month their first Form 941 will be due. Telephone calls must therefore be made before April 2, 2009, July 2, 2009, October 2, 2009, or January 2, 2010 if their filing requirement is effective for the first, second, third, or fourth quarter, respectively. Written correspondence must be postmarked no later than the fifteenth of the month prior to the month that the Form 941 is first due. For 2009, the postmark due dates are March 15, 2009, June 15, 2009, September 15, 2009, and December 15, 2009.

As with most federal tax deadlines, any due date that falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday is extended to the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday. For example, the March 15, 2009 deadline is automatically extended to March 16, 2009.

Whether an employer files Form 941 or Form 944, the deposit rules are generally the same, although “the de minimis deposit amount may be different.”

Contact Vision Payroll if you have any questions on the filing of Form 941 or Form 944 and the related tax deposit requirements.

December 16, 2008

2008 Form W-2 Tips, Part 1, General Information

This is one in a continuing series on the 2008 Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, which employers must generally furnish to employees no later than February 2, 2009. Forms mailed on the due date are considered furnished if properly addressed. Employers unable to meet that deadline may file a request for extension of time to furnish the forms. Today we review general information regarding Form W-2.

Forms W-2 should be typed or machine-printed in black ink, using 12-point Courier font. Dollar signs and commas must be omitted, but decimal points and cents, even if zero, must be included. Forms W-2 must be prepared on a calendar year basis using pay dates, not work dates. Wages for work performed in 2007 and paid in 2008 is included and wages for work performed in 2008 and paid in 2009 is excluded.

Report the employee’s social security number (SSN) in box a. Employees who have applied for, but not received, an SSN should be reported with all zeroes and corrected on a Form W-2c. Enter in box b the employer’s employer identification number, not the owner’s SSN. Box c must contain the employer’s address as shown on Forms 941, 943, 944, CT-1 or Schedule H of Form 1040. Box d is an optional box for employer use to identify individual forms. Box e should report the employee’s name exactly as shown on the social security card. Suffixes such as Sr. or Jr. should only be included if on the social security card. Do not include professional and academic titles and degrees such as CPA or Ph.D. as part of the employee’s names. Names should not be changed on Form W-2 unless the employee has received a revised card from the Social Security Administration. The Address in box f should be the address where the employee receives mail. Foreign country names are not to be abbreviated.

The next topic in this continuing series will be Box 1, wages, tips, other compensation. Contact Vision Payroll with any questions on 2008 Form W-2.

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