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Steps for Reconciling IRS Form 941 to Payroll

Most employers must report employees’ wages paid and taxes withheld plus their own share of certain payroll taxes quarterly to the IRS. Additionally, employers must report each employee’s wages and taxes annually, on Form W-2, to the Social Security Administration.

Employers use Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return, to report income taxes, Social Security tax, or Medicare tax withheld from employees’ paychecks and to pay their portion of Social Security or Medicare tax. In the end, the information on your quarterly 941s must match your submitted Form W-2s. By reconciling your 941 forms with your payroll, you can verify the accuracy of these filings. For best results, reconciliation should be done on a quarterly and a year-end basis.

Quarterly 941 Reconciliation Steps 

Step 1: Run a payroll register for the quarter. The register should show wages and deductions for each employee during that quarter.Pennsylvania Payroll Best Practices Webinar

Step 2:Compare the data on the payroll register with your 941 for the quarterly period. Areas to double-check are: 

  • Number of employees who received wages, tips or other compensation. 
  • Total compensation paid to employees. 
  • Federal income tax withheld from employees’ wages. 
  • Taxable Social Security wages and tips. 
  • Taxable Medicare wages and tips. 
  • Total tax payments made for the quarter, including federal income tax, Social Security tax and Medicare tax withheld from employees’ wages plus your own share of Social Security and Medicare taxes. 

Payroll registers usually do not show the employers’ share of taxes - so be sure to include those amounts in your reconciliation. 

Step 3: Fix discrepancies as soon as you find them. For example, you might need to correct the employee’s wages and taxes in your payroll system and file an amended Form 941 for the quarter with the IRS. 

Year-End 941 Reconciliation Steps

Step 1:Run a report that shows annual payroll amounts. Compare those figures with the totals reported on all four 941s for the year. 

Step 2:Make sure the amounts reported on the four 941s match the respective data fields for your W-2 forms. 

For example: 

  • For compensation, compare Line 2 of your 941s with Box 1 of your W-2s. 
  • For federal income tax withheld, compare Line 3 of your 941s with Box 2 of your W-2s. 
  • For Social Security wages, compare Line 5a Column 1 of your 941s with Box 3 of your W-2s. 
  • For Social Security tips, compare Line 5b Column 1 of your 941s with Box 7 of your W-2s. 
  • For Medicare wages, compare Line 5c Column 1 of your 941s with Box 5 of your W-2s. 

Also, make sure your total Social Security and Medicare taxes for the year are correct. 

Step 3:Perform the necessary adjustments. For example, you may need to file a corrected W-2 form with the SSA and an amended 941 with the IRS. 

Final Thoughts 

As you can see, the quarterly 941 forms can get complicated. To ensure compliance and avoid potential issues, it’s always a good idea to get professional help with it. The team at Paytime is ready to help you navigate your reconciliation of Form 941 to payroll and support you in all of your payroll and HR-related needs. Contact us today and let us help you power your business.

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