File IRS Form 941 to report quarterly payroll taxes

This post was updated in September 2020

Operating a business requires an employer to report all employee wages and other related payments to the Internal Revenue Service. All employers are obliged to file IRS Form 941 for this purpose. The form’s official title is the Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return. Employers with less than $1,000 of withholding liabilities and annual payroll may file their annual returns, pending IRS approval.

The requirement for filing Form 941 four times a year is explained by the fact that payroll taxes are a standard source of revenue for the Department of Treasury. Employers who do not pay taxes for their employees may face certain penalties. To avoid this, file your return on time and provide only true and honest information for your employee’s wages and all other related payments.

Who must file IRS Form 941?

Employers are obliged to report balances such as wages, income tax withheld, employee tips, employee and employer shares of Medicare and social security taxes (and adjustments to them), credits for improving research activities and other compensations. Employers shouldn’t file IRS Form 941 to report income tax withholding or backup withholding on pensions, gambling winnings or annuities, instead they should file Form 945 for this purpose.

Seasonal employers are not obligated to file Form 941 as they do not pay any wages and do not owe money to the government. Employers with household or farm employees are also not required to file the quarterly return.

How to complete IRS Form 941?

With PDFfiller, you can make the process of completing and filing IRS Form 941 easier. The document has five parts. Before completing them, provide the following information: employer identification number, name, trade name, full address and the quarter for which you’re filing the form. Once you’ve indicated these details, begin filling the basic parts of the document. Provide the following information for each part:

  • Part 1. Indicate the number of employees for whom you’ve paid wages, bonuses, tips, or other compensations. Provide the total amount of those payments and the taxes withheld from them. Calculate the total taxes with all adjustments.
  • Part 2. Provide information for the tax liability and deposit schedule per the quarter you’ve indicated.
  • Part 3: Describe your business by checking corresponding boxes.
  • Part 4: Indicate whether you allow your employees to discuss the information provided in your return.
  • Part 5. Sign the quarterly return and date the form.

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When to file IRS Form 941?

File IRS Form 941 four times a year. Each filing quarter has its deadlines.

  • For January, February and March, file your form by April 30th.
  • For April, May and June, submit a form by July 31st.
  • For July, August and September, file a return by October 31st.
  • For October, November and December, send the form to the IRS by January 31st.

Save time and avoid penalties by filing the return electronically within the required dates.


Due to the COVID-19 tax relief, the following changes have been made to Form 941:


  • The new credit for qualified sick and family leave wages should be reported on line 11b and, if applicable, line 13c. The employee’s share of social security tax on qualified sick and family leave wages should be mentioned on lines 5a(i) and 5a(ii). Qualified health plan expenses allocable to qualified sick and family leave wages should be included on lines 19 and 20. 
  • Write the new employee retention credit on line 11c and, if applicable, line 13d. Write qualified wages for the employee retention credit report on line 21. Fill out line 22 with qualified health plan expenses allocable to the qualified wages for the employee retention credit. For the second quarter of Form 941 only, qualified wages (excluding qualified health plan expenses) for the employee retention credit and qualified health plan expenses allocable to the qualified wages for the period from March 13, 2020, to March 31, 2020, are reported on lines 24 and 25, respectively. See the instructions for line 11c for information about the new employee retention credit.
  • Employers can defer the deposit and payment of the employer’s share of social security tax. The amount of deferral should be reported on line 13b. 
  • Employers that requested an advance on the sick and family leave credit and/or the employee retention credit should file Form 7200, Advance Payment of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19, for the quarter. The amount of all advances received from Forms 7200 is reported on line 13f. 

Note: Do not use the April 2020 revision of Form 941 to report employment taxes for the first quarter of 2020. Be sure to use the January 2020 revision of Form 941 to report employment taxes for the first quarter of 2020.