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January 31st: A Major Deadline for Employers

January 31st is an extremely important date for employers. There are multiple forms you need to file and taxes you may need to pay to the federal and state government. Here’s what you need to know:

Federal Requirements due January 31

Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return

Most employers need to file a Form 941 on a quarterly basis. This form is used to report the number of employees you have, the amount of taxes withheld from employee paychecks, and your share of Social Security and Medicare taxes. 

Those exempt from filing a Form 941 include:

  • Employers notified to file a Form 944

  • Seasonal employers (for quarters that have no tax liability)

  • Employers of household employees

  • Employers of farm employees

Form 944, Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return

Certain small employers who have an annual liability of $1,000 or less for Social Security, Medicare, and withheld federal income taxes may be notified by the IRS to file a Form 944 instead of a Form 941. This form covers most of the items on a Form 941 but will be filed annually rather than quarterly. 

Form 940, Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Tax Return

As an employer, you may need to pay federal unemployment taxes (FUTA) to the IRS and report them using a Form 940.

You must pay unemployment taxes if in 2019 or 2020:

  • You paid wages of $1,500 or more to an employee in any calendar quarter

  • You had one or more employees work at least part-time in any 20 or more different weeks

W-2, Wage and Tax Statement

A Form W-2 needs to be filed for each employee who had income, Social Security, or Medicare taxes withheld from their paychecks. This form reports the amount withheld along with the employee’s annual wages. You must provide employees with the Form W-2 on or before January 31st. 

New in 2021!

1099-NEC, Nonemployee Compensation

Beginning with the 2020 tax year, businesses will need to report nonemployee compensation for payments equal to $600 or more on Form 1099-NEC. Previously, this was reported in box 7 on a 1099-MISC.

1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income

If miscellaneous income falls outside of nonemployee compensation, you will need to file a Form 1099-MISC. This includes payments over $600 towards rent, medical and health care payments, and payments to an attorney. For a full list, please visit About Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income.

For more information on Form 1099-MISC and 1099-NEC, check out the the IRS publication 2020 Instructions for Forms 1099-MISC and 1099-NEC.

Washington State Requirements due January 31

State Unemployment Insurance (SUI)

Washington state businesses that pay FUTA taxes also must pay state unemployment taxes (SUI). You will need to report and pay taxes to the Washington State Employment Security Department. It is preferable to file your unemployment online using the Employer Account Management Services (EAMS) or ePay.

Workers’ Compensation

You must report and pay for workers’ compensation insurance to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (LNI) on a quarterly basis through the LNI website

Paid Family and Medical Leave

The Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave collects of employees’ gross wages, paid by the employees and employer, for paid leave benefits. If you have fewer than 50 employees, then you are not required to pay the employer portion, but you must still collect and submit the employees’ share. You will need to report wages and hours and pay premiums on a quarterly basis using a Paid Leave account through SecureAccess Washington (SAW).

The List Doesn't End Here

All businesses are unique and require different taxes and filing. This is not an exhaustive list, so please check in with your accountant or bookkeeper to see if there are any additional forms or requirements for you.


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