We earn a commission from brands listed on this site. This influences the order and manner in which these listings are presented.
Advertising Disclosure

Small Business Payroll: Navigating Tax Challenges and IRS Compliance

Mario Quijada
A small business owner sorting out payroll.
Payroll isn't just about cutting checks. There are federal, state, and sometimes local tax laws involved.

You must also deal with complex IRS compliance forms, deadlines, and changing rules. That's why it's wise to arm yourself with knowledge or consider using a payroll company to do it successfully.

Small businesses (SMBs) should ensure all the deductions, like taxes and retirement contributions, are correctly calculated and paid to the right agencies.

As an expert in finance and investments, I'll explain how to navigate tax challenges and make your SMB compliant with IRS tax regulations.

» Learn more about organizing your business finances.

Key IRS Taxes for Small Businesses

SMBs must adhere to several IRS regulations regarding payroll. Key tax commitments include:

Small businesses must file quarterly and annual tax forms. You can get fined by authorities if you fail to meet reporting deadlines.

How to Conduct Compliance Checks

Businesses should regularly conduct the following compliance checks:

  • Review payroll records: Verify employee hours, wages, and tax withholdings against timesheets and payment records.
  • Reconcile bank statements: Confirm payroll deposits match payroll liabilities to ensure accurate tax payments.
  • Monitor tax law changes: Stay updated on federal, state, and local tax regulations to adjust withholding rates and compliance procedures accordingly.
  • Conduct internal audits: Review payroll processes and documentation periodically to identify errors or discrepancies.
  • Train staff: Provide ongoing training to payroll staff on tax laws, compliance requirements, and proper payroll processing procedures.

IRS Reporting Requirements: What to Submit and When

Small businesses must file quarterly and annual tax forms. Tax authorities will penalize and fine you if you fail to meet reporting deadlines and requirements.

Quarterly Tax Filings

Quarterly filings (submitted four times a year) involve Form 941, which reports wages paid to employees, taxes withheld, and the employer's portion of FICA taxes. These are due by the last day of the month, which follows the end of the quarter. The dates and quarters are summarized in the following table:

Quarter End Date
Form 941 Due Date
January, February, March
March 31
April 30
April, May, June
June 30
July 31
July, August, September
September 30
October 31
October, November, December
December 31
January 31

Yearly Tax Filings

At the end of each calendar year, businesses must also provide employees with Form W-2 detailing their earnings and tax withholdings and submit copies online to the Social Security Administration.

SMBs issue Form 1099-NEC to report payments they make to non-employees and independent contractors. The IRS uses this to track non-traditional salaries or wages and ensures everyone correctly reports their taxable income.

For most individual filers, the federal tax return and payment end date is April 16th.

Form 940 is an annual FUTA report and an opportunity for you to reconcile discrepancies between quarterly filings. The deadline for businesses to issue these forms is typically January 31st the following year.

» Find out when the last day to file taxes is.

Best Practices for Accurate Tax Withholding

You can implement the following best practices to ensure accurate employee tax withholding:

  • Keep detailed records of employee earnings
  • Require all new employees to complete Form W-4 immediately
  • Update forms whenever employees' personal or financial circumstances change
  • Regularly review federal, state, and local tax laws and regulations
  • Use current withholding tables provided by the IRS and state tax authorities
  • Always double-check your calculations

» Check out the best payroll solutions to make accurate paystubs.

How Gusto Payroll Can Help You Calculate and File Taxes

Taxes can be overwhelming and confusing to manage—around 25% of small business owners don't know how to file taxes. Luckily, utilizing payroll software like Gusto can be essential for small businesses to navigate tax challenges.

It's a comprehensive workforce management platform that simplifies and streamlines payroll. It stays up-to-date with changing tax laws and regulations, ensuring businesses comply with federal, state, and local tax requirements.

For SMBs with employees or contractors in foreign countries, Gusto's employer of record (EOR) service lets you pay people in their local currencies and comply with local employment and tax laws in over 120 countries.

Gusto's small business payroll management service

The service automatically calculates, files, and pays all taxes with government agencies on your behalf, including quarterly and year-end forms. It also has self-service features, allowing employees to view pay stubs, directly update personal information like W-2 details, and access tax documents online.

This ensures that you always have accurate and up-to-date tax calculations and reporting data, reducing the risk of errors and potential penalties. Self-service features also take the pressure off HR and payroll teams. SMBs often have limited resources, so reducing administrative tasks frees up valuable time to focus on other business priorities.

» Have more questions about payroll taxes? Here's a detailed breakdown

Looking for the best place for tax filings, paystubs, and W-2s? Gusto offers a centralized payroll platform for small business owners, making sure you never miss tax deadlines. Visit Site

Meet Your Payroll Tax Obligations

By following these best practices, you can ensure accurate employee tax withholding, minimize errors, and maintain compliance with tax laws and regulations. In particular, payroll services and software can empower small business owners to manage payroll taxes efficiently, enhancing accuracy and compliance.

» Learn more about what to consider when choosing a payroll provider.

Mario Quijada
Mario Quijada uses his background in finance and mortgages to write about financial topics for Top10, offering clear insights into financial markets and investment strategies. Mario focuses on guiding individuals toward their financial goals through accurate and in-depth writing.