Payroll taxes are federal, state, and local income tax withholdings and employer and employee portions of FICA taxes. Understanding and navigating payroll tax obligations are essential to your organization’s smooth operations.

Failure to properly withhold, deposit, and file employment taxes can lead to severe penalties for your business. Novo offers helpful digital financial tools and expert support to help you understand and meet your payroll tax obligations.

Understanding Your Obligations


Payroll taxes are one of the more confusing responsibilities small business owners face, but they cannot be ignored. Employers are responsible for calculating, withholding, depositing, and reporting payroll taxes to federal state, and local agencies, and failure to do so can result in steep penalties and fines.

Payroll taxes are withholdings from employee wages sent to the IRS for social security, Medicare, income tax, and more. Businesses may have other required withholding taxes. Common US payroll taxes include federal income tax, employer’s social security and Medicare contributions, and state income tax. These are deducted from wages and regularly sent to the federal government.

Employers must also file informational returns and reports with the IRS periodically, along with payroll tax payments. These reports typically include details of the withholding amounts and other relevant information about each employee’s compensation. In addition, there are often a variety of state-level reporting and payment requirements, which can vary considerably.

The most serious penalty for failing to meet your payroll tax obligations is the 100% failure-to-deposit (FTD) penalty, which can be imposed when you fail to make a required federal deposit on time. This can apply to any FICA or income tax withholdings, even those properly withheld from an employee’s paycheck. You can avoid the 100 percent FTD penalty if you show that your failure to deposit was not willful.

Other types of payroll taxes include FUTA or Federal Unemployment Taxes, which employers pay to fund unemployment benefits for former workers. These taxes are based on a percentage of the total wages paid by an employee during a specified period. The FUTA tax rate is currently 6.2% of the employee’s wages, and this rate can change periodically. There are also a number of state-level employment tax rates, which can vary significantly.

Read More: Taxation Secrets for Expats in the US

Calculating Your Taxes

Calculating Your Taxes

Managing payroll taxes is an important part of running a small business. However, keeping up with changing tax laws and ensuring compliance with regulations can be challenging. Understanding the different types of payroll taxes and their implications for employers and employees is essential for staying in compliance with tax regulations and ensuring the financial health of your business.

Payroll taxes are the money withheld from employee paychecks and remitted to the federal government. These funds serve various purposes, including funding Social Security and Medicare programs and state and federal unemployment insurance. Additionally, payroll taxes are the only type of tax that can be deducted from an employee’s gross wages rather than net wages.

To calculate payroll taxes, assess the W-4 form, salary, and deductions. Determine the required withholding per paycheck. The HR manager or owner follows an IRS deposit schedule to submit these taxes. Apart from calculations and deposits, employers must file regular returns detailing tax payments and calculations. These reports differ by location, so consult your local tax department for specific filing requirements

Precision in payroll tax withholding and filing is crucial due to potentially grave consequences. If under-deposited, the IRS can deduct the shortfall, penalize you or your business, and even resort to liens or imprisonment for severe cases. Though tax laws appear intricate, research, dependable payroll software, and certified specialists can empower you to handle payroll taxes confidently. This guide’s insights equip you to navigate obligations, evade penalties, and guarantee adherence to state, local, and federal rules for your business’s prosperity.

Depositing Your Taxes

payroll tax

Numerous federal and state payroll tax regulations exist, and non-compliance leads to hefty fines and interest on back taxes. Business owners must track rule changes, consult professionals, and monitor government sources to grasp new regulations’ effects.

Aside from calculating and withholding payroll taxes, businesses must deposit them punctually. This encompasses federal income tax, FICA taxes (Social Security and Medicare), FUTA taxes, and state/local employment taxes.

Deposit frequency hinges on size and tax type, usually monthly, semi-weekly, quarterly, or annually. Meeting deadlines is crucial. Engaging certified payroll experts and dependable software aids in navigating deadlines, rates, and IRS concerns for streamlined business operations.

Suppose you choose to deposit your federal payroll taxes electronically. In that case, the IRS requires that you do so on a monthly or semi-weekly schedule using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, or EFTPS. This free service can be accessed through the Treasury Department website or various payroll software providers.

Once you’ve made your federal tax deposits, it’s a good idea to deposit your FICA taxes (Social Security and Medicare) on a quarterly basis. This will help you keep your FICA payments consistent and ensure your employees receive timely benefits.

Most state and local employment taxes are calculated and paid similarly to federal employment taxes. Withholding requirements, filing schedules, and payment deadlines will vary by location, so it’s best to work with a payroll services provider or a trusted financial advisor who can guide you through these details for your area.

Filing Your Taxes

Filing Your Taxes

As a business owner, you are responsible for withholding payroll taxes from employees’ paychecks and paying them directly to the federal, state, and local tax authorities. Employment taxes include:

  • Federal income tax withholding (based on the employee’s W-4 form).
  • FICA (employers’ and employees’ share of social security and Medicare taxes).
  • Federal and state unemployment taxes.

You are also required to deposit and report these taxes quarterly in most cases. Failure to do so can result in severe penalties for your company. These penalties include fines, interest charged on back taxes, liens placed against property, and civil and criminal sanctions. You should be aware of the changing payroll tax regulations and adjust accordingly to avoid such penalties. You can keep up with changes by regularly checking government websites and publications, consulting with a tax professional, and maintaining accurate records of all transactions.

If you employ remote or mobile workers, acquaint yourself with varying regulations in their work locations. For example, for employees traveling to different cities, ensure correct payroll tax withholding. Different jurisdictions might require distinct forms for these workers. Payroll taxes pose complexity for businesses. Nonetheless, adherence is vital for tax compliance and financial planning.

This guide delves into crucial definitions and concepts to unravel payroll outsourcing and tax intricacies. It covers key payroll tax categories and applications to your business and offers timely filing and payment tips. Note that this guide isn’t a source of legal, HR, or tax advice. Consult experts for tailored information on your circumstances.

Tim R
Meet Tim, your friendly lifestyle wordsmith and curator of everyday joys. With a passion for sharing helpful and easy-to-follow guides to meet your daily needs, I'm here to add magic to your routines. Together, let's embark on delightful literary journeys, exploring life's little pleasures, and creating cherished memories that last a lifetime!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.