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California Form DE 9 and DE 9C

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From the top to the bottom of the payroll list, each employee costs money in taxes. California employers report the wages to the state and pay the four payroll taxes using Form DE 9 and DE 9C.

California employers have to tell the state Employment Development Department (EDD) the real numbers they are using to pay their payroll taxes. The wages paid and the amounts taken out of the payroll funds are reported on a tax return form called Form DE 9.

The full set of employee wages and personal income taxes withheld that are on the employer's payroll are listed on Form DE 9C.

Filling In The Blanks Each Quarter

Employers can not be late, or simply pass on filing the California DE 9 or DE 9C form. Each quarter, the Quarterly Contribution Return and Report of Wages is filed with the EDD. Employers do not have to tell the EDD too many things, but those things they write do count for a lot. Identification is the first thing stated on the form. A business name. A state employer account number (SEIN). And, the federal employer identification number (FEIN).

The form DE 9 is used to report taxable wages and payroll tax contributions so the state office knows how much is due, or how much is overpaid, if any amount.

The Prices of Worker Productivity

The four payroll tax amounts and total wages are copied onto the forms. Each employee that earns taxable wages will have taxes taken out of their pay and cost the employer a percentage on wages for their mandatory participation in the unemployment insurance program that includes an employment training program. Personal income tax (PIT) gets cut right out of the top of an employee's pay. The amount taken out is called the tax withholding. It goes into the state revenue fund.

The unemployment insurance (UI) contribution covers the costs of living an unfortunate employee that loses their job will have to pay. Some employers, but not all, also pay the employment training tax (ETT) that is used to pay for training workers in the employer's field. The fourth amount is a contribution that gets taken out of the employee's pay. The tax pays for the State Disability Insurance (SDI) that employees can use to pay for costs while out of work and taking care of an illness or injury, or going through the birth of a new child.

Employers do their numbers counts and a little math to fill in the DE 9. Total taxable wages is the main number. Taxable wages are also reported separately for each of the four payroll taxes--PIT, UI, ETT, and SDI. Other than the wages, the total personal income tax withheld from employee pay on the payroll is the large dollar number. For the other three taxes, the tax rate is reported as a percentage and the percentage multiplied by the wages to produce the tax amounts. The tax contributions for the three taxes are written on the form.

Total taxes are compared to the contributions and withholdings paid during the quarter to find the amount of taxes due or overpaid.

Employee Accounting

Every employee's name that is on the payroll is written on the DE 9C, the continuation form for DE 9. Their taxable wages are written on the form next to their filled in names. Taxable PIT wages and the PIT withheld are reported for each employee. Totals are done on each page for taxable wages, PIT wages and PIT withheld, and, at the end of the payroll list, grand totals.

The Payroll Tax Counts

Once every count is noted on record, and the forms sent in, everything given to the State of California from the payroll account is officially told. Any form blank left empty can cost the employer. There is a 10 percent penalty for underpayments, and an additional 10 percent penalty if the forms are not filed, or filed later than 60 days after the due date. The official counts tell the whole story for the quarter on the wages and payroll taxes that added up.


California Form DE 9 (2011).

California Form DE 9C (2011).


About This Article

Adam Benjamin Pollack

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