The Internal Revenue Service developed the Form 944 annual return to relieve small business of the burden of filing quarterly Form 941 returns. The 941 and 944 forms are used to report federal income tax, Social Security and Medicare amounts withheld from employee paychecks. The employer also reports his portion of Social Security and Medicare. Once you register with the IRS as an employer, few circumstances allow you to stop filing a Form 944, even if you have no employees.
If You Had Employees During the Year
If you had even one employee at any time during the calendar year, you must file a Form 944. It does not matter how little the employee earned. You must base your filing requirement for wages paid during the calendar year, even if the employee earned the wages in the previous year. For example, if you paid your employees a week after the workweek ended, you issued payroll in January for hours worked in December. Because you report all wages to the IRS on a calendar-year basis, you must issue a Form 944 for the wages paid in January.
If You Have No Employees or Close Your Business
If you no longer have employees and do not anticipate hiring any in the near future, you can file a final 944 return. Also, if you close your business, file a final 944 return. Mark the box on Form 944, page 2, part 3 and enter your final payroll date. Include a note with your return advising the IRS who and where payroll records will be retained.
If You Change Your Legal Business Structure
Perhaps you began your business as a partnership and are now a sole proprietor. You may need to obtain a new employer identification number, or EIN. File a final 944 return and include a statement showing the nature of the change, such as partnership to sole proprietorship, when the change occurred, and the name and address of the individual retaining your payroll records.
If You Sell Your Business
Should you sell your business, you must file a final 944 return and report all of the wages you paid to your employees. The new owner is responsible for reporting wages paid after the sale. The same rules apply if your business merges with another.
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