This article provides information to answer the most common questions about Form W-2. Form W-2 is titled "Wage and Tax Statement." This form is provided by employers to employees, with information employees must use to complete their federal and state income tax returns. The information provided on Form W-2 includes taxable earnings, Social Security earnings, federal and state income taxes withheld, and information about benefits and deductions that affect employee income taxes.
When is Form W-2 due? Who do I send it to?
Form W-2 must be provided to employees no later than January 31 each year. You can send the form or provide it online for downloading. Then, you must submit W-2 forms for all employees to the Social Security Administration (SSA), by the end of February each year. Along with Copy A of all the W-2 forms you provided to employees, you must submit a W-3 form to the SSA which totals all information from the W-2 forms.
2011 W-2 Form Changes
You can't just use any W-2 form; forms change each year, and there have been several W-2 form changes for 2011:
- A way for employers to include the value of employer-provided health care benefits for employees. This information is voluntary for 2011 W-2s
- Removal of information about advance Earned Income Credit payments, which are not longer applicable in 2011.
How do I know if I should give the worker a Form W-2? What if the worker is an independent contractor?
If you have hired a worker as an independent contractor, that person is not an employee. You report taxable income for independent contractors on Form 1099-MISC each year; the 1099-MISC also is due at the same time as the W-2 form. If you aren't sure which form to send, read more in this article about W-2 vs. 1099 forms.
How do I get copies of W-2 forms?
You can find W-2 forms at your local office supply store, through a payroll service or online payroll software program, business tax program, or directly from the IRS. You cannot get use W-2 copies downloaded from the Internet. Copy A of the W-2 form is in a specific color of red ink and cannot be duplicated. Read more details on how to get W-2 forms.
Where do I get the information to complete Form W-2?
To prepare W-2 forms, you will first need basic information on employees and the employer(you company). Then you will need information on:
- employee earnings
- federal income taxes withheld from employee pay
- Amounts for benefits, deductions, and other information which must be included on employee tax forms, and
- Information on state and local taxes withheld from employee pay.
How do I complete Form W-2?
This step by step guide guide to completing Form W-2 can help make the process easier.
How do I submit Form W-2? Can I submit Form W-2 online?
W-2 forms must be provided to employees individually by January 31 each year. Then, you must submit all W-2 forms to the Social Security Administration by mail, to be received no later than the last day of February. You can also submit W-2 forms online to the SSA.
What if I submit Form W-2 late?
You may be subject to late filing penalties if you submit W-2 and W-3 forms after the due dates. The amount of the penalty is determined in part by how late you file, the size of your business. Remember that using a payroll service provider does not relieve you of the responsibility to ensure that the W-2 forms are filed correctly and on time. If your failure to file is intentional, the penalty is at least $100 per form, with no maximum.
What if I make an error in Form W-2?
If you make an mistake in completing a W-2 form, and the error is discovered before you submit the form to the SSA at the end of February, just correct the mistake. That's why there is a one-month time between providing forms to employees and submitting them to the SSA.
If you discover an error after you have submitted W-2 forms (along with W-3 forms) to the SSA, you must send in a corrected W-2 form. If the error is numerical and it affects a total, you will also have to submit a corrected W-3 form. Here's more information on how to submit corrected W-2 and W-3 forms.
What common W-2 errors should I look for?
To avoid having to submit corrected forms, review these common errors in W-2 and W-3 forms before submitting them to the SSA.