W-2 Form - How to Complete, File, Print and Send

Form W-2 is the statement you provide employees after the end of each year, with information on their gross pay, Social Security and Medicare pay, federal and state income tax withholding, and tax-related deductions. You must provide this statement to every employee who worked for your company the previous year, by the end of January the following year.

UPDATE: The deadline for submitting W-2 forms to the Social Security Administration (SSA) has changed.

 W-2 forms, along with W-3 form, must be submitted to SSA no later than January 31 of the following year. The deadline for giving W-2 forms to employees is the same as in the past - January 31 of the following year. 

Do I Use Form W-2 or Form 1099-MISC?

Form W-2 is used to provide income and withholding information to employees for their income tax returns.

Form 1099-MISC is the form you use to provide income information to independent contractors, freelancers, and other non-employees. Most non-employees must receive a 1099-MISC form if you have paid that person $600 or more in the previous year. 

If you are not sure whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, you can read more about this subject in the article: "Employee? Or Independent Contractor?"

Where Can I Get W-2 Forms?

You can get W-2 forms from your local office supply store, from your CPA, or online from the IRS. You can also get W-2 forms from a business tax preparation program (some versions of these programs)  

Where you CANNOT get W-2 forms

You can't download and print out W-2 forms from the IRS website or elsewhere on the Internet.  Copy A is a specific color of red ink and only originals can be submitted. 

How Do I Prepare Form W-2?

You can prepare W-2 forms manually using a fillable PDF form on the SSA website or with purchased software, or you can use the small business version of tax preparation software, if it has this feature. You can also use a tax preparation service or a payroll service to prepare, file and send W-2 forms. 

How Do I Submit W-2 Forms to the Social Security Administration?

You can submit W-2 forms in paper form or online. If you are submitting paper forms, make sure you have the correct version.

You can submit these W-2 forms online using the Social Security Administration's Business Services Online service. To do this, you would submit only the electronic copy of Copy A, keep Copy A and give the other copies to the employee. 

if you submit W-2 forms online to the Social Security Administration, you don't need to submit a W-3 transmission form

What is a W-3 Form? When Do I Need One with W-2 Forms?

The W-3 form is a transmission form. It is used to add up all the information on individual W-2 forms into a total for the Social Security Administration (SSA). 

If you are filing W-2 forms online with the SSA, you don't need a W-3 form. But if you are filing forms by mail you will need a W-3 form. This article gives information on how to prepare and file this form. 

What are Common Mistakes Made in Completing Form W-2?

Here's a listing of common errors that are made on Form W-2. Before you give Form W-2 to employees, and especially before you submit W-2 forms to the Social Security Administration, take a few minutes to make sure everything is perfect.

One common mistake is nor reporting the cost of health care insurance you provided to employees. This information goes into Box 12. 

How Can I Correct a W-2 Form?

Now that the deadlines for giving W-2s to employees and to the Social Security Administration are the same, you will have to go through a correction process with the SSA to correct errors on these forms. 

What If I Don't File My W-2 on Time? What If the W-2 is Late?

This article explains the fines and penalties for late filing of W-2s and also how you can apply for a 30-day extension. The extension isn't granted automatically, and you must provide a detailed explanation of why the extension is necessary.