The Small Business Owner’s (or Employer’s) January 2022 Compliance Calendar

Gusto Editors

Chances are, most teams at your company are winding down and getting ready for the holidays—but your human resources and accounting departments probably look a lot different right now. January is one of the busiest months of the year for compliance matters. 

Here is your January compliance calendar to help you stay on top of it all!

Federal holidays (banks are closed)

January 1, 2022: New Year’s Day

Happy New Year! Because January 1 is on a Saturday this year, some deadlines that typically fall on this day may shift to Monday, January 3 instead. However, there are still some federal deadlines to keep in mind for this day—you’ll find them below.

January 17: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday, observed

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday is actually on January 15th (which falls on a Saturday this year), but the federal holiday is observed on Monday, January 17th, thanks to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act

Federal policy dictates that normal tax deadlines that fall on a weekend are moved to the following Monday. But since this Monday is also a federal holiday, these deadlines are pushed to the Tuesday, January 18th instead. This is why your Q4 2021 federal estimated taxes are due on January 18th this year—as opposed to January 15. More on that later.

Tax and payroll compliance deadlines

Quarterly state and local taxes

If you live in a state or local area that collects income tax, your fourth quarter taxes for the 2021 tax year are due this month. This deadline may be different from the federal due date though, so check with your state and local government tax agencies for further details. 

Semi-weekly employment tax deposits (payroll)

If your company deposits employment taxes on a semi-weekly basis, your deposit schedule is as follows:

If payday for your employees is on . . .Deposit employment taxes by . . .
WednesdayThe following Wednesday
SaturdayThe following Friday

How do you determine if your company needs to follow a semi-weekly or monthly deposit schedule? Well, it depends. 

If you reported more than $50,000 in taxes during the lookback period—which, in this case, is July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021—you’d follow the semi-weekly deposit schedule. But if you reported less than $50,000 in taxes, then you’d follow the monthly schedule and deposit taxes on the 15th of every month (more on this later). 

Additionally, if you owe $100,000 or more in taxes during your assigned deposit period, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) mandates that you deposit the entire amount in taxes by the end of the following business day instead. For more information on federal employment tax deposits and the lookback period, read Publication 15

Keep in mind that states and localities that collect employment taxes will also expect deposits, although the methods and due dates may be different. Get in touch with your state and local tax agencies for more details on your company’s obligations.

January 3, 2022

Extended tax filing deadlines for Hurricane Ida victims

Businesses in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania that were affected by Hurricane Ida had certain filing deadlines extended to January 3. These include:

  • Those that had their original tax filing deadline extended to October 15, 2021
  • Those with quarterly estimated income tax payments originally due on September 15, 2021
  • Those with excise tax returns due on November 1, 2021

2020 deferred payroll taxes

If you deferred employer payroll taxes in 2020, this is the final day to pay 50 percent of the total amount due. 

January 18, 2022

Monthly employment tax deposits

If you reported less than $50,000 in employment taxes during the lookback period, the deadline for your December tax deposits is today. New businesses that haven’t incurred a tax liability during the lookback period yet fall under the monthly depositor schedule for their first calendar year in business. 

Federal estimated tax payments

Those who make estimated tax payments every quarter, including independent contractors and self-employed individuals, must submit their fourth quarter payments by January 18. These payments can be submitted online or mailed to the IRS along with Form 1040-ES

Note that if you have a farming or fishing business that comprises 75 percent or more of your income for the 2021 or 2022 tax year, you may be eligible to pay the entire tax by March 1 instead of making estimated tax payments. If this sounds like you, check out IRS Topic 416 for more information.

January 31, 2022

Forms 1099

You’re required to file Form 1099-NEC with the IRS (and your state and local governments, if they require it) by January 31, 2022. You must also distribute a copy of this form to every independent contractor who received $600 or more in compensation from you during the 2021 tax year. 

If you have any employees who received employer-sponsored plan distributions last year, they get a copy of Form 1099-R by this date as well. For more information on 1099 reporting forms, review the general instructions provided by the IRS.

Form 720

Retailers, manufacturers, communication companies, transportation companies, and certain other kinds of businesses must pay excise taxes every quarter using Form 720. The final deadline for last tax year’s payments falls on January 31, 2022.

Form 940

Employers report their annual Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) tax from the previous tax year using Form 940. If your FUTA tax liability for the fourth quarter of 2021 is $500 or less, you can also pay the tax when you file the form on this day. Read the section on Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Tax in Publication 15 to learn more. 

Form 941

Employers file Form 941 with the IRS every quarter to report how much in federal income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes was withheld from their employees’ paychecks during that time period. The deadline for fourth quarter payments for the 2021 tax year is January 31. 

Form 943

If you employ farm workers, you’ll need to file Form 943 with the IRS by the end of January if their wages are subject to employment taxes. Note that agricultural employee wages are only reported using this form, and that they aren’t reported on Forms 941 or 944. 

Form 944

Smaller employers with an annual tax liability of less than $1,000 for Medicare, Social Security, or withheld federal income taxes must file Form 944 by January 31. This replaces the quarterly Form 941 filing requirements that larger businesses have. 

However, you can’t just file Form 944 because you want to—the IRS must notify you in writing beforehand. If you want to opt out of filing Form 944 for 2022, you must request the change between January 1 and March 15 and have it approved by the IRS. You’ll need to continue with the method you currently use until the IRS approves a change. 

Form 945 

File Form 945 with the IRS by January 31 to report any income tax withheld from non-payroll payments, like 401(k) distributions or annuity payments. 

Form 1096

If you file paper information returns with the IRS, you’re also required to file Form 1096 along with them, as it contains a summary of all the information returns you’ve sent. Submit this to the IRS with your 1099 forms by the end of January.

Form W-2

Employers file Form W-2 with the Social Security Administration (SSA) as well as with certain state and local governments by January 31. The SSA encourages you to file these forms electronically, as this simplifies the process for you and them, but companies who file 250 or more W-2s are required to file electronically.  

You must also provide a copy of Form W-2 to each of your employees by this date so they can file their own income taxes. 

Form W-3

If you filed your W-2s on paper, you’ll also need to file Form W-3 with the SSA by the end of the month. This document summarizes all of the wages paid and employment taxes withheld from your employee paychecks during the 2021 tax year.

HR compliance

January 1, 2022

Health benefits notices

You’ll need to distribute your Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) to all qualifying employees at the start of every new plan year, plus additional notices if you offer health benefit plans that are part of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement (QSEHRA), Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA),Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA), HIPAA special enrollment, or Newborns’ & Mothers’ Health Protection (NMHPA). 

The start of the new plan year usually falls on the first day of the calendar year, but not always. Check with your plan provider to make sure. 

Labor law posters 

Confirm that your federal, state, and local labor law compliance posters are up-to-date and properly displayed in your workplace by January 1, 2022. If the ones you have now are outdated, you can order federal labor law posters from the Department of Labor or purchase “all-in-one” posters from reputable poster vendors. 

Review 2022 state/local minimum wage changes 

Identify any January 1, 2022 minimum wage increases for all applicable states and/or cities. Update your employees profiles and notify employees. Be sure to note that some states increase their minimum wage rates mid-year or on a different cycle; these will need to be updated at the appropriate time.

Clear applicable accumulators/accrual balances

Prior to running your first 2022 payroll, review and reset any accruals and carryover balances in accordance with your company policy and state law.

Update your employee handbook 

Review your employee handbook to make sure it is up-to-date and addresses key areas, such as: changes to COVID-related policies, guidelines for remote working, privacy policies, compensation and performance reviews, time and attendance policies, benefits, and procedures for termination, discipline, workplace safety, and emergency procedures.

January 4, 2022

Workplace COVID-19 vaccine mandates

The current administration’s Path Out of the Pandemic plan requires certain employers to enforce vaccine mandates for their entire workforce by January 4. By this date, federal contractors, certain health care facilities, and businesses with 100 or more employees must ensure that their workers have received either one dose of a single-shot vaccine or both doses of a two-shot vaccine. 

In companies with 100 or more employees, workers that don’t meet either of these two requirements by this date must begin weekly testing instead. 

January 15, 2022

ACA open enrollment end date

For states using the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace, the federal open enrollment period for individual coverage in 2022 ends on January 15. Note that some states use their own marketplace, and that the open enrollment deadline in these states may differ from the federal one.

January 31, 2022

Affordable Care Act reporting forms

The original deadline for sending ACA reporting forms (1094/1095-C) for 2021 to employees was on January 31, but new proposed regulations give employers a 30-day extension. This changes the deadline to March 2, 2022. 

Although this rule hasn’t been finalized yet, the proposal allows employers and insurers to move forward with the extension anyway. However, the filing due dates for these forms (February 28 for paper forms and March 31 for e-filing) haven’t changed.

Of course, since you’re already sending employees their W-2 forms by this date, you may find it easier to send the ACA forms along with them.

Gusto Editors Gusto Editors, contributing authors on Gusto, provide actionable tips and expert advice on HR and payroll for successful business management.
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