IRS Form 944 Basics

General Obligations To Deposit Payroll and Income Tax Withholdings

Under federal law, employers must withhold Social Security, Medicare and Federal income taxes from their employees’ paychecks and deposit them with the federal government (together with the employer’s own payroll tax contributions). In addition to the deposit requirements, the employers are also obligated to file Form 941 every quarter to report the withholdings and make up for any deficiencies in deposits (or receive a refund).

Who Must File Form 944 – the Notice Requirement

Forms 941 can be a burdensome requirement for some very small employers. While computer software has alleviated some of the problems, it has not solved them.

Therefore, the IRS designed Form 944 to assist the smallest employers, which are defined as employers whose annual liability for social security, Medicare, and Federal income tax withholding is $1,000, or less. If the IRS notifies (and this is a crucial point) such an employer that the form is to be filed, the employer may file and pay such taxes only once a year, instead of every quarter.

Notice, the “notification” requirements. If the IRS does not notify you about Form 944, you must file Form 941 each quarter. It is also appropriate to note here the exceptions for agricultural and household employers who follow their own set of rules.

If, for some reason, you do not with to file Form 944, you will need to specifically contact the IRS and make such request. After the IRS notifies you about the changes in your reporting requirements, you can start filing Forms 941. Again, until you receive an IRS notice about the change in your Form 944 filing requirements, you must file Form 944.

Form 944 Reporting Requirements

If you are required to file Form 944, you should report all the following items: wages paid, tips received by employees; federal income tax withheld; both employer’s and the employee’s share of social security and Medicare taxes; any current year’s adjustments to social security for fractions of cents, sick pay, tips, or group-term life insurance; and any credits for COBRA premium assistance payments.

Form 944 Deadline

If you are required to file Form 944, you must file it only once a year. In most situations, it should be filed by January 31 after the end of the calendar year for which you are filing Form 944. Certain extensions are available if timely full payments of deposits were made by January 31.


Various complications may arise if you are a new owner or you sell (transfer) your business. You will need to contact a tax attorney to discuss how this affects your requirement to file Forms 941 and 944.

Another set of complications may arise if your Form 944 does not match your W3 amount. Usually, this means that there has been a mistake in reporting either on Form 944 or W3.

Finally, it should be remembered that Form 944 is only one requirement for employers. There are other reporting requirements that may apply to you. You should contact a tax attorney to discuss your federal tax responsibilities as an employer.


If you fail to comply with Form 944 requirements, various penalties and interest may apply as required by law.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office With Any Questions about Form 944

If you have any questions with respect to Form 944 or if you failed to file Form 944, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional legal help. Our experienced tax firm will analyze your situation, help you become compliant with all of your federal tax obligations, and provide rigorous representation of your interests during your negotiations with the IRS.