How to Pay Payroll Tax

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Payroll taxes must be paid quarterly to the IRS. Most states require quarterly payments as well.
Payroll taxes must be paid quarterly to the IRS. Most states require quarterly payments as well. (Image: sxc)

Whether you are an employer or a self-employed person, you must know how to pay payroll tax throughout the year. As an employer, you are responsible for filing a 941 form with your payroll taxes quarterly. If your state has an income tax, state taxes are submitted to the state agency quarterly as well. Self-employed individuals can pay estimated taxes quarterly if they expect to owe any taxes at the end of the year. Learn how to file and pay the taxes so that you comply with the federal and state governments.

Things You'll Need

  • Form 941 (employers)
  • Form 1040-ES (individuals)

File the payroll tax quarterly using the government's e-file electronic filing system. These funds can be withdrawn from your checking or savings account. Enroll for the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System at eftps.gov or enroll by mail by calling 1-800-555-4477 and requesting the application. You simply file your 941 form when you pay the payroll taxes. You can pay the balance due on the 941 with a credit card, but you cannot pay the federal tax with a credit card -- that must be done with a bank withdrawal, money order or a check.

Pay the payroll tax withholdings monthly or quarterly according to how much you have each month in withholdings. If you have under $2,500 in withholdings, you can deposit that money in your bank account and pay quarterly. If you have over $2,500 in withholdings, deposit the money in a bank that is approved to accept tax deposits using Federal Tax Deposit Coupon Form 8109.

Pay the taxes quarterly by mail. Fill out the 941 form and mail a check or money order to the address on the form. Employers that have less than $1,000 owed every three months use this method.

Send state tax to the appropriate agency. You should receive a payment book in the mail that has your quarterly coupons. Send one voucher out every three months according to the dates on each voucher. Keep in mind that each state handles this tax payment differently. See your specific state's website for guidelines.

File your estimated payroll tax electronically if you e-filed your previous year's tax returns. The scheduled dates for submission are Jan. 15, Sept. 15, June 15 and April 15. These funds can be withdrawn from your checking or savings account or paid by credit card. Enroll in the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System at eftps.gov or enroll by mail by calling 1-800-555-4477 and requesting the application.

Pay the payroll taxes with the 1040-ES voucher by mail. You can pay with a money order or check made out to the "United States Treasury." The worksheet and voucher is found in Publication 1040-ES.

Pay your estimated state tax with your specific state. Before you decide if you will owe any taxes at the end of the year, you must calculate your estimated income and subtract any deductions and credits that you may qualify for at the end of the year.

Tips & Warnings

  • File payroll taxes on time and for the correct amounts.

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