Form W-2 is a document that details what you paid an employee during a calendar year. It shows their gross wages, withheld taxes, and other withholdings.
You must send Form W-2 to employees so they can fill out their annual income returns. And, you need to send Form W-2 to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and state government so the governments can check tax returns for accuracy.
So, what is the Form W-2 filing deadline? Find out below.
The Form W-2 deadline
Form W-2 has six copies: A, B, C, D, 1, and 2. You will keep copy D for your business records. The other copies go to your employees and government agencies. Here are the deadlines for sending each copy to the proper party.
When are W-2s due to employees?
Send Copies B, C, and 2 of Form W-2 to each employee by January 31. Your employees don’t have to physically have the forms by that date, but the deadline to mail or upload W-2 forms is January 31. That is the absolute last day to send out W-2s.
You can also distribute Form W-2 electronically. Employees must give you consent to receive their Forms W-2 electronically. See Publication 15-A for more details. If you electronically distribute Form W-2, January 31 is still the deadline for employers to send W-2 forms.
When are Forms W-2 due to the SSA?
January 31 is also the Form W-2 deadline to submit Copy A of each form to the SSA. You can file on paper or electronically. The federal government encourages you to e-file the forms. You must e-file if you have to file at least 250 forms.
You must send Form W-3 to the SSA with all your Forms W-2. Form W-3 is a transmittal form that summarizes all your employees’ Forms W-2.
In the past, employers had until the end of February to mail Form W-2 to the SSA, or until the end of March if filing electronically. These Form W-2 deadlines are no longer valid. The due date is now January 31 so the IRS has more time to spot errors on employee returns and properly distribute refunds.
When are Forms W-2 due to state governments?
Many states have a January 31 deadline for filing Copy 1 of Form W-2. Check with the state tax agency to verify the specific deadline and get more information.
Can I get a Form W-2 extension?
It is possible to get an extension for distributing and filing Form W-2.
You can get an extension to file your forms with the SSA. Fill out Form 8809 and submit it to the IRS to request an extension. If the IRS approves your request, you will have one, 30-day extension to file. You cannot request a second extension. The IRS will only grant extensions if your business suffered from a catastrophe or other extraordinary circumstance. File Form 8809 between January 1 and January 31. It’s best to file as soon as you know you need an extension.
You can also get an extension to distribute Forms W-2 to employees. You must mail a letter requesting the extension to the IRS before January 31. Include your name, address, EIN, a statement that you are requesting an extension to give Forms W-2 to employees, your reason for the delay, and your signature. The IRS generally gives a 15-day extension to approved requests, but it is possible to get up to a 30-day extension.
You can find more information about Form W-2 deadline extensions in the instructions for Form W-2.
If you need an extension for filing with a state, check with the state’s tax agency for information.
What happens if I submit Form W-2 late?
Filing Form W-2 late has consequences. If you do not submit Forms W-2 to the SSA on time and with correct information, you will have to pay penalties. The penalties increase the longer it takes you to file the forms.
You can find more information about Form W-2 penalties in the instructions for Form W-2.
Patriot Software’s Full Service Payroll can help you worry less about Forms W-2. When you use our payroll services, we’ll send Forms W-2 and W-3 to the correct agencies. And, you can easily print employee copies from the software. Start your free trial.
This article has been updated from its original publication date of January 3, 2018.This is not intended as legal advice; for more information, please click here.