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What’s a DECOR Notice? Another Payroll Mystery Solved

DECOR-notices-and-IRS and W2If you receive a letter from Social Security and it’s marked “DECOR,” it has nothing to do with your personal style.

DECOR stands for “Decentralized Correspondence,” and it may mean you have a payroll issue to clean up regarding an employee’s W-2.
The Social Security Administration is sending out “no-match” DECOR notices to employers, notifying them of discrepancies with employee W-2s for the 2010 tax year. The notices could indicate any of the following issues:

    • Typographical errors
    • Unreported name changes
    • Inaccurate/incomplete employer records
    • Misuse of a Social Security number

Social Security suspended mailing employers DECOR notices for the 2008-2009 tax years, but are now mailing notices for the 2010 tax year only.

If you receive a DECOR notice, that means the SSA is putting the employee’s earnings in an Earnings Suspense File (ESF) instead of posting the earnings to the employee’s earning record. To rectify the problem, the SSA may ask you or your payroll department to:

    • Double-check your records to ensure the info you gave to the SSA matches your payroll and employment record.
    • Ask your employees (if they still work for you) to see their Social Security card to verify their Social Security number. Note: If they lost their card, a new one may take several weeks to arrive.
    • Contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-6270 with your questions about any employees.
    • Correct errors by preparing a Form W-2c and sending it to SSA with a covering Form W-3c transmittal. Do not include additional correspondence.
    • Encourage the employee to contact their local Social Security office and straighten out any discrepancies on their end.
    • If you can’t resolve the issue with the employee, document and keep records of your efforts in accordance with federal record-keeping laws.
    • Use the Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS) for employees on your payroll to avoid future problems.

To learn more about DECOR notices, refer to the Social Security Administration website.

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