When business owners distribute annual wage and tax forms on Form W-2 to employees and 1099-MISC forms to independent contractors, they are not done with end-of-year payroll tax reports. They must also prepare and submit W-3 and 1096 forms transmittal forms. These forms are used to total up the data from all W-2s or 1099-MISC forms and enter those totals on the transmittal forms. The deadline for submitting these forms is February 28. By this date:
- You must submit Copy A of all W-2 forms, along with W-3, to the Social Security Administration (SSA). NOT the IRS.
- You must submit all 1099-MISC forms, along with a 1096 form to the IRS. If you are submitting several different types of 1099 forms, you must have a 1096 form for each type.
If you have electronic copies of W-2 forms and Form W-3, you can file online using the SSA's Business Services Online.
Before you submit the W-3 and 1096 forms, be sure all the information on the W-2s and 1099-MISC forms is correct. If you need to correct an individual form, it's a lot easier to do that before you submit the transmittal form. Just make the correction and send the employee or contractor the corrected form, telling them to tear up the incorrect form. Read more about how to correct W-2 and W-3 forms.
More on how to prepare and file Form W-3 and Form 1096 for 2012 taxes.
If you aren't sure whether to file a W-3 or a 1096, you will need to go back to review the types of workers who receive W-2 vs. 1099-MISC forms; in other words, the difference between employees and independent contractors.