Yesterday I received an email from a business owner who said an employee questioned his W-2 amounts. The owner checked and found an error. "Now what?!" he wanted to know.
Employers are required to submit W-2 wage and tax forms to employees at the end of January, and then to submit Form W-3 (summary transmittal form) to the Social Security Administration at the end of February. One big reason for the delay in submitting the transmittal form is so you have time to check the W-2s for errors, or for employees to find errors. For one of several reasons, you might find out that your W-2 is not correct:
- An employee notices a mistake on his or her W-2
- You find out that the total W-2 amounts (summarized on the W-3) don't match the year totals for Form 941 (the quarterly federal tax form)
What do you do? How do you correct a W-2 or W-3?
If the Error is in a W-2
If you discover an error in one or more W-2 forms, and you have not sent the W-3 to the Social Security Administration, just re-do the form and give it back to the employee. Then make sure you put the corrected form in with the W-3 and make any necessary corrections on the W-3 totals.
If you have already submitted the W-3, you will need to submit a Form W-2C to the IRS,, and a W-3c to the SSA.
If the error is a missing employee name or SSN, you cannot use the W-2c to add this information. The Instructions for Forms W-2C and W-3C state that you must contact the SSA directly at 1-800-772-6270.
If the Error is in the W-3
Send a W-3c to the Social Security Administration. If you sent an incorrect W-2 to the SSA along with the W-3, you will have to complete and submit both the W-2c and the W-3c.
You may also need to correct Form 941 (the quarterly employment tax report) if that is where the error occurred.
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