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Jean   Murray

Tips for W-3s and 1096 Forms - Due End of February

By February 11, 2012

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Today, some tips for preparing and filing those W-3 forms (for employees) and 1096 forms (for contract workers and others).

W-3 Forms are the summary transmittal forms totaling all the 2011 tax numbers (wages, federal and state income tax withheld, etc.) on the W-2 forms you gave employees at the end of January.  These forms must be sent to the Social Security Administration no later than February 29, 2012

1096 forms are the summary transmittal forms totaling federal income tax withheld and other information on the 1099 forms (called "information returns") you gave to contract workers and others at the end of January. These forms must be sent to the IRS no later than February 28, 2012. If you file these information returns electronically, the due date is extended to April 2, 2012.

Tips and Reminders:

  • Form 1096 isn't needed if you file 1099s and other information returns electronically
  • You must file a separate Form 1096 for each type of 1099. If you provided 1099-MISC  forms and 1099-DIV forms, you'll need a separate 1096 for each one, unless you file electronically (see above)
  • You cannot copy the RED Copy A of a W-3 or 1096. These are scannable forms an a special red ink and you may be penalized for sending in a non-scannable form.
  • If you are filing 250 or more W-2s or 250 or more of any type of 1099 or other information return, you must file electronically. You may be able to apply for and receive a waiver on the electronic filing requirement. Check deadlines if you want to do this.
  • Filing options for W-3s - You can use Social Security's Business Services Online to file W-3s (and W-2s) electronically, or you can mail the returns if you don't have 250.
  • Filing options for information returns (1099s): You can mail returns (under 250), or you can use one of several electronic filing options, including the IRS' FIRE system.
  • Other filing options for W-3s and information returns: an IRS-approved provider, a tax software program, or your friendly local tax preparer
  • Finally, remember to use the 2011 forms, for 2011 tax reporting, not 2012 forms, and
  • W-2s/W-3s to Social Security - 1099s/1096 to IRS!

You might want to check out this article on common W-2 errors, as these errors are often found on other forms.

Read more about preparing and filing forms W-3 and 1096

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