IRS Form 944 vs. Form 941

Every employer who pays compensation for services performed by employees must report to the IRS the wages paid, and related employment taxes including income tax withholding, social security tax, Medicare tax and, if applicable, Additional Medicare Tax.

Generally, employers must report wages, tips and other compensation paid to an employee by filing Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return.

But, small employers (those with annual employment tax liabilities of $1,000 or less) may instead be eligible to file Form 944, Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return, if approved by the IRS.

Eligibility to File Form 944

If your employment taxes for the calendar year will be $1,000 or less, you could be eligible to file Form 944. 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 file and pay these taxes only once a year instead of every quarter.

When applying for your Employer Identification Number (EIN), you will receive a notice listing the employment tax forms you are required to file. Form 944 cannot be filed unless you receive written notification that you are eligible to do so. If you are unsure of your current filing requirement, call 800-829-4933 (toll free) or 267-941-1000 (toll call).

In general, if the IRS has notified you to file Form 944, you must file the annual Form 944 instead of quarterly Forms 941 to report certain amounts, including:

  • Wages you have paid
  • Tips your employees reported to you
  • Federal income tax you withheld
  • Both (employer and employee) shares of social security and Medicare taxes

Once your annual employment tax liability exceeds $1,000, the IRS will notify you that you’re no longer eligible to file Form 944 in future years and that you must file Form 941 quarterly. However, until you receive the notice, continue to file Form 944 annually.

If you haven’t received notification to file Form 944 for 2024 but estimate your employment tax liability for calendar year 2024 will be $1,000 or less and would like to file Form 944 instead of Forms 941, you can contact the IRS to request to file Form 944 for 2024. To file Form 944 for calendar year 2024, you must call the IRS at 800-829-4933 (267-941-1000 (toll call) if you’re outside the United States) between January 1, 2024, and April 1, 2024, or send a written request to the correct mailing address postmarked between January 1, 2024, and March 15, 2024. The IRS will send you a written notice that your filing requirement has been changed to Form 944. If you don’t receive this notice, you must file quarterly Forms 941 for calendar year 2024.

Form 944 is due by Jan. 31 each year. For 2023, file Form 944 by Jan. 31, 2024, however, if you made timely deposits in full payment of your taxes due for the year, you may file the return by Feb. 12, 2024.

For further information, see Instructions for Form 944 (2023).