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3 Deceptively Easy Mistakes to Make if You Deferred Your Deposits of Social Security Taxes

BY: Payroll Legal Alert | 08/11/20

The IRS released Form 941 instructions and instructions to Schedule B for the second, third and fourth quarters of 2020 in late June. Several issues have now arisen with the deferral of the employer’s 6.2% share of Social Security taxes.

Designating Deferrals

Although employers can’t defer a deposit of Social Security taxes they’ve already made, employers may be able to claw back some of the deferral from taxes already deposited by designating those funds as employees’ withheld income and FICA taxes and the employer’s portion of Medicare taxes.

Why: The Form 941 instructions state that regardless of how deposits are identified for EFTPS purposes, employers can consider prior deposits during a quarter as first being deposited for employment taxes other than the employer’s share of Social Security taxes.

The IRS used strikingly similar language to define “federal employment taxes” in its FAQs on claiming pandemic-related tax credits. There, the IRS defined the phrase as including employees’ withheld income and FICA taxes and your portion of Medicare taxes.

Makeup Deposits

Employers must repay half the deferral by Dec. 31, 2021, and the other half by Dec. 31, 2022. According to the IRS, payments made before Dec. 31, 2021, are first applied against payments due on Dec. 31, 2021, and then applied against the payment due on Dec. 31, 2022.

Upshot: If the deferral is more than the deposit, the makeup deposit may not be split evenly; the lion’s share may need to be paid by Dec. 31, 2022.

Flip side: If the deferral is less than the deposit, nothing would be due Dec. 31, 2021, and everything would be due Dec. 31, 2022.

Corporate Deductions

If employers choose to defer their deposits of Social Security taxes, corporate deductions for those taxes are also deferred.

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