Form W-2 is the annual wage and tax statement you must give to every employee to use in filing their personal tax return. You must file these forms with the Social Security Administration (SSA), either by mail or online.
This article gives details on deadlines, extensions, and how to mail or e-file W-2 forms.
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS) W-2 forms are used to report annual employee pay, withholding, and other deductions.
- The deadline for giving these forms to employees and filing them with the Social Security Administration (SSA) is January 31 of the year following the tax year being reported.
- You may be able to get an extension for filing, but only for extraordinary circumstances.
- You can mail the forms or use the SSA's Business Services Online portal to file them electronically.
Preparing To Send the W-2 Forms
Before you prepare W-2 forms you must gather information for the tax year for each employee, including:
- Their total taxable pay (wages, tips, and compensation) for the year
- Social Security and Medical pay
- Federal income tax, Social Security tax, and Medicare tax withheld
- Other information about taxable benefits
- State taxable pay and state taxes withheld
If you are filing W-2 forms by mail, you must also prepare a W-3 form summarizing the information included in the W-2s. Make sure that the totals for all boxes on the W-2 forms for your employees match the total fox that box on the W-3 form. Also, check to make sure that your business information is the same.
Review these other common errors in submitting W-2 and W-3 forms. If you make a mistake, you must file a W-2c form to make corrections.
Due Date for Sending W-2 Forms
Each year you must send W-2 forms to each of your employees by January 31 of the following year so they can use the form to prepare their tax return. You must also send the form to the Social Security Administration (SSA) by January 31 to verify and file the information for the employee's benefit credits.
If January 31 is a weekend or holiday in a specific year, the due date is the next business day. For example, if January 31 is a Saturday, the deadline is February 2 for that year.
Getting an Extension for Filing W-2 Forms
You can request one 30-day extension to file W-2 forms. Use IRS Form 8809 to apply; the form must be filed before the due date. You must file this form by mail but your request isn't automatically granted. The IRS will only grant extensions in "extraordinary circumstances or catastrophe."
To get an extension on giving W-2s to employees, fax a letter to the IRS on or before the due date that includes your reason for the delay and the signature of the person authorized to sign for the company. The fax goes to:
Internal Revenue Service
Attn: Extension of Time Coordinator
Make every effort to get the forms to employees and the IRS as soon as possible to avoid penalties.
How To Submit W-2 Forms
Review your completed W-2 forms to make sure all information is clear and readable and there are no errors. Send the red Copy A of each W-2 form to the SSA along with the W-3 transmittal form if you are mailing the forms. The SSA will not accept photocopies of this form. Then, give the other copies (B, C, and 2) of the W-2 form to the employee.
Mailing W-2 Forms to the SSA
Send the forms through the post office to the
Social Security Administration at:
Data Operations Center
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18769-0001
If you file at the last minute and must use a private delivery service such as UPS or Federal Express to get it there overnight, the address is different:
Data Operations Center
ATTN: W-2 Process
1150 E. Mountain Drive
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702-7997
If you send them by regular mail, corrected forms should be sent to:
Data Operations Center
P.O. Box 3333
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18767-3333
If you send them by private delivery service, use the same 1150 E. Mountain Drive address you would use for original copies sent overnight.
Sending W-2 Forms to the SSA Online
You may e-file W-2 forms online to the Social Security Administration through their Business Services Online portal. There is no extension of the filing deadline of January 31 for online filing. You can submit corrected forms online as well.
If you have 250 or more W-2 forms to file, you must file them electronically; you may be penalized if you mail these forms instead of filing online in this case.
Avoid Fines and Penalties by Filing on Time
The penalties for late filing of W-2 forms are steep, and they are imposed on each form, so file on time if you possibly can. The late filing penalty is:
- $50 a form if you file within 30 days of the due date
- $110 a form if you file more than 30 days after the due date but by August 1
- $280 a form if you file after August 1, you don't file corrections, or you don't file the required form.
These are maximum penalties for each due date above.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do employers have to mail W-2 forms?
Any business that has employees must give them a W-2 form each year. You can give all employees a paper copy or you may set up a system to transmit the forms electronically. If you want to send employees the forms online you must first get consent from each individual employee. You may have some employees who want to receive an e-copy and some who want paper copies, and you must allow both types.
You must also disclose certain information to employees on the consent form, including their rights to receive a paper copy of Form W-2 if they don't consent to an e-copy and how to withdraw consent.
When can you start mailing out W-2 forms?
You can mail W-2 forms to employees anytime in January of the year following the tax year. For example, send forms with tax year 2022 information by January 31, 2023. Don't mail them until after December 31, to be sure you have all the information on pay and withholding for the year.
Because the deadline for mailing W-2 forms to employees and submitting them to the SSA is the same, it's a good idea to send the forms to employees early in the month so you can catch errors. It's not as easy to correct errors once the forms have been filed with the SSA.