Posted on February 18, 2013

A Guide to Common Payroll Tax Forms

Navigating the various tax forms needed to keep your business legitimate can require some research to make sure you get it right. You can also rely on professional payroll experts to guide you through the process. Here are a few basics you need to know about the most common forms:

Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification

The I-9 form is completed under the requirements of the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It is used to document that any new employee, citizen or noncitizen, is authorized to work in the United States. For all applicants, it requires proof of both identify and employment authorization. For U.S. citizens, a passport can prove both. Without a passport, a new employee must provide a photo ID and a birth certificate or a Social Security card. Specific requirements for noncitizens are provided on page 5 of the form.

Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement (Year)

Employers provide completed W-2 forms to employees shortly after January 1 of each new year to document the gross wages paid to the employee and the exact amount of federal taxes, Social Security taxes and Medicare taxes deducted for the preceding year. There are multiple copies of this document: copies for the employee to use in filing their tax returns and copies for the employer for record-keeping.

An example copy of the W-2 form can be reviewed on the IRS site under Tax Forms. The online version is not scannable when printed from the website, and attempts to do so may result in fines or penalties. To order an official form, contact the IRS at 1-800-TAX-FORMS, or order it online.

Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate (Year)

A W-4 is a standard document filed upon a new employee’s hire, in addition to the I-9 form. The W-4, however, is an IRS form intended to document the number of deductions, exemptions and the type of tax rate for the employer to use in calculating the new employee's payroll taxes. Once completed, the W-4 remains "active" until changed, although many employers offer their employees an annual opportunity to update their forms. The law requires employees to make adjustments to their W-4 within a certain timeframe if their number of deductions changes—for example, if their child turns 18 or if they get a divorce.

Form 1099, Miscellaneous Income

Form 1099s are used often to indicate income from independent contractor work, prizes, awards and gambling.

Links to most IRS tax forms can be located on the IRS Tax Forms page. Other options include calling the IRS or ordering the forms online. Hiring a payroll service provider such as Paycor also means you'll never have to search for a tax form or determine which form is right for the situation. We guide you every step of the way with intuitive payroll solutions backed by a team of payroll professionals. Contact us today to get started.