There are two types of adjustments: current period adjustments and prior period adjustments to correct errors. See the instructions for Forms 941
and 941c for more information on how to report these adjustments.
Current Period Adjustments
In certain cases, amounts reported as social security and Medicare taxes on lines 6b, 6d, and 7b of Form 941 must be adjusted to arrive at your
correct tax liability (e.g., excluding amounts withheld by a third-party payer or amounts you were not required to withhold). Current period
adjustments are reported on line 9 of Form 941 and include the following:
Adjustment of tax on tips.
If, by the 10th of the month after the month you received an employee's report on tips, you do not have enough employee funds available to withhold
the employee's share of social security and Medicare taxes, you no longer have to collect it. Report the entire amount of these tips on lines 6c
(social security tips) and 7a (Medicare wages and tips). Include as an adjustment in the "Other" space on line 9 the total uncollected employee
share of the social security and Medicare taxes.
Adjustment of tax on group-term life insurance premiums paid for former employees.
The employee share of social security and Medicare taxes on group-term life insurance over $50,000 for a former employee is paid by the
former employee with his or her tax return and is not collected by the employer. However, include all social security and Medicare taxes for such
coverage on lines 6b and 7b (social security and Medicare taxes), and back out the amount of the employee share of these taxes as an adjustment in the
"Other" space on line 9. See Pub. 15-A for more information on group-term life insurance.
For the above adjustments, provide a brief supporting statement explaining the nature and amount of the adjustments (see the example of
reporting current period adjustments below). Do not use Form 941c as the supporting statement for current period adjustments.
Adjustment of tax on third-party sick pay.
Report both the employer and employee shares of social security and Medicare taxes for sick pay on lines 6b and 7b of Form 941. Deduct on line 9
the social security and Medicare taxes withheld on sick pay by a third-party payer. Also enter the sick pay tax adjustment in the "Sick Pay"
adjustment entry space. No additional statement for this adjustment is required. See section 7 of Pub. 15-B for more information.
Fractions of cents adjustment.
If there is a small difference between net taxes (line 13) and total deposits (line 14), it may have been caused, all or in part, by rounding to
the nearest cent each time you computed payroll. This rounding occurs when you figure the amount of social security and Medicare tax to be withheld
from each employee's wages. If you pay your taxes with Form 941 instead of making deposits because your total taxes for the quarter are less than
$2,500, you also may report a fractions-of-cents adjustment.
To determine if you have a fractions-of-cents adjustment, multiply the total wages and tips for the quarter subject to:
- Social security tax (reported on lines 6a and 6c) by 6.2% (.062).
- Medicare tax (reported on line 7a) by 1.45% (.0145).
Compare these amounts (the employee share of social security and Medicare taxes) with the total social security and Medicare taxes actually
withheld from employees for the quarter (from your payroll records). The difference, positive or negative, is your fractions-of-cents adjustment. If
the actual amount withheld is less, report a negative adjustment in parentheses in the entry space for "Fractions of cents." If the actual amount
is more, report a positive adjustment. No supporting statement is required for this adjustment.
Current Period Adjustment Example
Example of reporting current period adjustments.
Cedar Inc. was entitled to the following current period adjustments:
- Third-party sick pay. Cedar Inc. included taxes of $2,000 for sick pay on lines 6b and 7b for social security and Medicare taxes.
However, the third-party payer of the sick pay withheld and paid the employee share ($1,000) of these taxes. Cedar Inc. is entitled to a $1,000 sick
pay adjustment (negative).
- Fractions of cents. Cedar Inc. determined that the amounts withheld and deposited for social security and Medicare taxes during
the quarter were a net $1.44 more than the employee share of the amount figured on lines 6b, 6d, and 7b (social security and Medicare taxes). This
difference was caused by adding or dropping fractions of cents when figuring social security and Medicare taxes for each wage payment. It must report
a positive $1.44 fractions-of-cents adjustment.
- Life insurance premiums. Cedar Inc. paid group-term life insurance premiums for policies in excess of $50,000 for former
employees. The former employees must pay the employee share of the social security and Medicare taxes ($200) on the policies. However, Cedar Inc. must
include the employee share of these taxes with the social security and Medicare taxes reported on lines 6b and 7b of Form 941. It is entitled to a
negative $200 adjustment.
Cedar Inc. reported these adjustments on line 9 of Form 941 as shown in the
Current Period Adjustment Example on page 24. A brief supporting
statement was filed with Form 941 explaining the life insurance adjustment.
Prior Period Adjustments
Generally, you can correct errors on prior quarter Forms 941 by making an adjustment on the Form 941 for the quarter during which the error was
discovered. For example, if you made an error in reporting social security tax on your second quarter 2001 Form 941 and discovered the error during
January 2002, correct the error by making an adjustment on your first quarter 2002 Form 941.
The adjustment increases or decreases your tax liability for the quarter in which it is reported (the quarter the error is discovered) and is
interest free. The net adjustments reported on Form 941 may include any number of corrections for one or more previous quarters, including both
overpayments and underpayments.
You are required to provide background information and certifications supporting prior quarter adjustments. File with Form 941 a Form 941c,
Supporting Statement To Correct Information, or attach a statement that shows:
- What the error was.
- Quarter in which the error was made.
- The amount of the error for each quarter.
- Date on which you found the error.
- That you repaid the employee tax or received from each affected employee a written consent to this refund or credit, if the entry corrects
- If the entry corrects social security and Medicare taxes overcollected in an earlier year, that you received from the employee a written
statement that he or she will not claim a refund or credit for the amount.
Do not file Form 941c or the equivalent supporting statement separately. The IRS will not be able to process your adjustments on
Form 941 without this supporting information. See the instructions for Form 941c for more information.
Income tax withholding adjustments.
Correct prior quarter income tax withholding errors by making an adjustment on line 4 of Form 941 for the quarter during which you discovered the
You may make an adjustment to correct income tax withholding errors only for quarters during the same calendar year.
This is because the employee uses the amount shown on Form W-2 as a credit when filing the income tax return (Form 1040, etc.).
You cannot adjust amounts reported as income tax withheld in a prior calendar year unless it is to correct an administrative error. An
administrative error occurs if the amount you entered on Form 941 is not the amount you actually withheld. For example, if the total income tax
actually withheld was incorrectly reported on Form 941 due to a mathematical or transposition error, this would be an administrative error. The
administrative error adjustment corrects the amount reported on Form 941 to agree with the amount actually withheld from employees.
Social security and Medicare tax adjustments.
Correct prior quarter social security and Medicare tax errors by making an adjustment on line 9 of Form 941 for the quarter during which you
discovered the error. You may report adjustments on the current quarter Form 941 for previous quarters in the current and prior years.
Reporting prior quarter adjustments on the record of Federal tax liability.
Adjustments to correct errors in prior quarters must be taken into account on either Form 941, line 17, Monthly Summary of Federal Tax Liability,
or on Schedule B (Form 941), Employer's Record of Federal Tax Liability.
If the adjustment corrects an underreported liability in a prior quarter, report the adjustment on the entry space corresponding to the
date the error was discovered. If the adjustment corrects an overreported liability, use the adjustment amount as a credit to offset
subsequent liabilities until it is used up.
Example of reporting prior period adjustments:
Elm Co., a monthly schedule depositor, discovered on January 9, 2002, that it overreported social security tax on a prior quarter return by $5,000.
Its total tax liabilities for the first quarter of 2002 were: January--$4,500, February--$4,500, and March--$4,500. Elm Co. completed
line 17 of Form 941 as shown in the Prior Period Adjustment Example on page 26.
The adjustment for the $5,000 overreported liability offset the January liability, so the $4,500 liability was not deposited and a -0- liability
was reported on line 17, column (a). The remaining $500 of the $5,000 adjustment credit was used to partially offset the liability for February, so
only $4,000 of the $4,500 liability was deposited and reported on line 17, column (b).
Do not make any changes to the record of Federal tax liability for current quarter adjustments. The amounts reported on the record reflect the
actual amounts you withheld from employees' wages for social security and Medicare taxes. Because the current quarter
adjustments make the amounts reported on lines 6b, 6d, and 7b of Form 941 equal the actual amounts you withheld (the amounts reported on the record),
no additional changes to the record of Federal tax liability are necessary for these adjustments.
Filing a claim for overreported prior period liabilities.
If you discover an error on a prior quarter return resulting in a tax overpayment, you may file Form 843, Claim for Refund and Request
for Abatement, for a refund. This form also can be used to request an abatement of an overassessment of employment taxes, interest, and/or penalties.
You must file Form 941c, or an equivalent statement, with Form 843. See the separate Instructions for Form 843.
Collecting underwithheld taxes from employees.
If you withheld no income, social security, or Medicare taxes or less than the right amount from an employee's wages, you can make it up from later
pay to that employee. But you are the one who owes the underpayment. Reimbursement is a matter for settlement between you and the employee.
Underwithheld income tax must be recovered from the employee on or before the last day of the calendar year. There are special rules for
tax on tips (see section 6) and fringe benefits (see section 5).
Refunding amounts incorrectly withheld from employees.
If you withheld more than the right amount of income, social security, or Medicare taxes from wages paid, give the employee the excess. Any excess
income tax withholding must be reimbursed to the employee prior to the end of the calendar year. Keep in your records the employee's written receipt
showing the date and amount of the repayment. If you do not have a receipt, you must report and pay each excess amount when you file Form 941 for the
quarter in which you withheld too much tax.
Correcting filed Forms W-2 and W-3.
When adjustments are made to correct social security and Medicare taxes because of a change in the wage totals reported for a previous year, you
also may need to file Form W-2c, Corrected Wage and Tax Statement, and Form W-3c, Transmittal of Corrected Wage and Tax
If an employee repays you for wages received in error, do not offset the repayments against current-year wages unless the repayments are for
amounts received in error in the current year.
Repayment of current-year wages.
If you receive repayments for wages paid during a prior quarter in the current year, report adjustments on Form 941 to recover income tax
withholding and social security and Medicare taxes for the repaid wages (as discussed earlier). Report the adjustments on Form 941 for the quarter
during which the repayment occurred.
Repayment of prior year wages.
If you receive repayments for wages paid during a prior year, report an adjustment on the Form 941 for the quarter during which the repayment was
made to recover the social security and Medicare taxes. Instead of making an adjustment on Form 941, you may file a claim for these taxes using Form
843. You may not make an adjustment for income tax withholding because the wages were paid during a prior year.
Prior Period Adjustment Example
You also must file Forms W-2c and W-3c with the SSA to correct social security and Medicare wages and taxes. Do not correct wages (box
1) on Form W-2c for the amount paid in error. Give a copy of Form W-2c to the employee.
The wages paid in error in the prior year remain taxable to the employee for that year. This is because the employee received and had use of
those funds during that year. The employee is not entitled to file an amended return (Form 1040X) to recover the income tax on these wages. Instead,
the employee is entitled to a deduction (or credit in some cases) for the repaid wages on his or her income tax return for the year of repayment.
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