The Difference Between IRS Form 941 and Form 944: Which One Should You File?  

Are you a business owner grappling with tax forms and wondering which one is the right choice for your organization? IRS Form 941 and Form 944 are essential documents for employers to report wages, taxes withheld, and other pertinent information related to their employees. Understanding the differences between these forms is crucial for accurate tax reporting.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down the dissimilarities and help you determine which form aligns better with your business needs. So, let’s delve into the intricacies of IRS Form 941 and Form 944!

The Difference Between IRS Form 941 and Form 944: Which One Should You File?  

To ensure proper tax compliance, employers need to select the appropriate tax form for reporting their payroll taxes. The primary distinction between IRS Form 941 and Form 944 lies in the frequency of filing and the amount of taxes owed. Here’s an in-depth comparison:

IRS Form 941  

1. Purpose of IRS Form 941

IRS Form 941, also known as the Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return, is a crucial document for businesses that pay wages to employees and withhold federal income tax, Social Security tax, and Medicare tax. It allows employers to report these taxes to the IRS and is typically filed on a quarterly basis.

2. Who Should File IRS Form 941?

Most employers are required to file Form 941 if they meet the following criteria:

  • Employ individuals subject to income tax withholding, Social Security, or Medicare taxes.
  • Withhold federal income tax from employee wages.
  • Withhold Social Security and Medicare taxes from employee wages.
  • Have paid wages of $1,500 or more in any calendar quarter or for whom the total payroll tax liability is $1,000 or more in any calendar year.

3. Frequency of Filing

IRS Form 941 is a quarterly tax return, meaning it must be filed four times a year. The filing deadlines are April 30th, July 31st, October 31st, and January 31st.

4. Reporting Period

Each IRS Form 941 covers a three-month period. The first quarter covers January to March, the second quarter covers April to June, the third quarter covers July to September, and the fourth quarter covers October to December.

IRS Form 944  

1. Purpose of IRS Form 944

IRS Form 944, also known as the Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return, is designed for small businesses with a relatively low annual federal tax liability. Instead of filing Form 941 quarterly, eligible employers can use Form 944 to report their tax liability annually.

2. Who Should File IRS Form 944?

Small businesses may be eligible to file Form 944 if they meet the following requirements:

  • You are a small employer, meaning you do not owe more than $1,000 in total annual federal taxes for the year.
  • The IRS will notify you if you are eligible to file Form 944. If you receive the notification, you should file Form 944 instead of Form 941.

3. Frequency of Filing

Unlike IRS Form 941, Form 944 is an annual tax return and should be filed only once a year. The filing deadline is January 31st of the following year. Keep in mind that there are certain instructions for filing IRS Form 944.

4. Reporting Period

Form 944 covers the entire calendar year, from January 1st to December 31st.

How to Determine the Correct Type of Form to File for Your Business   

As a business owner, it’s important to understand the various forms required by the IRS. Two of the most commonly used forms are Form 941 and Form 944. But how do you know which one to file for your business? It mainly depends on the size of your business and the amount of taxes you owe.

If you have less than $1,000 in employment taxes for the year, then Form 944 is the correct choice for you. On the other hand, if your employment taxes for the year exceed $1,000, then it’s mandatory to file Form 941. Understanding and correctly filing these forms can be overwhelming, but with the right guidance and knowledge, you can ensure your business is in compliance with the IRS.


Understanding the differences between IRS Form 941 and Form 944 is vital for every employer to fulfill their tax obligations accurately. By choosing the right form, you can streamline the reporting process and avoid potential penalties. Remember to assess your business size, tax liability, and employee count to make an informed decision. In case of uncertainty, don’t hesitate to seek assistance from a qualified tax professional.

Whether you file Form 941 or Form 944, compliance with IRS regulations is essential to maintain a healthy financial standing for your business. Stay informed, plan ahead, and meet your tax obligations diligently. By doing so, you can focus on growing your business with confidence and avoid any unnecessary tax-related stress.