At the end of every quarter, you need to file a quarterly payroll tax return, and Quicken 2012 can help you. (Specifically, you must file a Form 941 — which is a form you fill out to say how much you paid in gross wages, how much you withheld in federal taxes, and how much you owe for employer payroll taxes.)

If you don’t own a business but have household employees — such as a nanny — you file a Form 942. You fill out this form to say how much you paid in gross wages, withheld in federal taxes, and owe in payroll taxes.

To get the gross wages totals and the balances in each of the payroll tax liability accounts, print a Cash Flow report for the quarter you need to report. You can do this by choosing Reports→Banking→Cash Flow. Quicken displays the Cash Flow report, but the dates will probably be wrong, so click the Customize button. Quicken displays the Customize Cash Flow dialog box.

Specify the range of dates as the start and end of the quarter for which you’re preparing a quarterly report. Then click OK. Quicken produces a Cash Flow report, which you can easily use to fill out the quarterly payroll tax return.

You’ll also need to report on the 941 tax form how much money you withheld from the employee’s checks for federal withholding. You can do this manually (by looking through their payroll records) or algebraically (by comparing whatever the 941 or 942 shows as the total Social Security and Medicare taxes amount with the total payments made to the IRS).

However, you know what? If your accountant fills out the 941 or 942 for you, you don’t even need to read the stuff in the preceding three sections. Your accountant won’t have any problem completing the quarterly payroll tax return by using the Quicken report, and, in fact, will probably even enjoy it.

Even if you want to do payroll returns yourself in the future, have your tax accountant prepare the first return. You can then use that as a template for correctly preparing any future returns.