Form W-2 is the annual wage and tax statement you must give to every employee to use in filing their personal tax return. This form includes
- 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
Before You Send the W-2 Forms
You must prepare a W-2 Wage and Tax Statement for each employee for each tax year and send that form to the employee and the Social Security Administration (SSA).
If you are not filing W-2 forms online, 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 and must correct a W-2 form, you'll also have to submit an amended W-3.
Due Date for Sending W-2 Forms
Each year, you must send W-2 forms to two different addresses:
- The employee, so they can use the W-2 form for their tax return
- The Social Security Administration (SSA), to verify and file the information
You must send W-2 forms to employees by January 31 of the year after the tax information. For example, you must send 2020 W-2 forms to employees by January 31, 2021.
The deadline for filing these forms with the Social Security Administration is also January 31 of the following year.
If you are mailing the W-2 forms, you must also send a W-3 transmittal form that summarizes all the information on the W-2 forms you're sending to the SSA.
This date may change in a year when the due date is a weekend or holiday. In that case, the due date is the next business day. This article on tax due dates has the correct dates for the current tax year.
Getting an Extension for Filing W-2 Forms
You can get an automatic 30-day extension for filing W-2 forms with the SSA, but not for the forms you mail to employees. Complete the extension application on Form 8809 and send it to the address on the form. You can also send the form electronically through the IRS FIRE system (you'll have to enroll first).
General Information for Submitting W-2 Forms
Review your completed W-2 forms to make sure all information is clear and readable.
Make a copy of Copy A and keep it in your files for four years.
Send the red Copy A of each W-2 form to the SSA along with the W-3 transmittal form for all W-2s. The SSA will not accept photocopies of this form.
Give the other copies (B, C, and 2) of the W-2 form to the employee.
Sending W-2 Forms to the SSA by Mail
Send the forms by U.S. Postal Service 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.
Corrected forms should be sent to: Data Operations Center, P.O. Box 3333, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18767-3333 if you send them by regular mail. 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 section.
You don't have to include the W-3 form if you e-file the forms -- the SSA will calculate a total from the W-2 forms. There is no extension of the filing deadline of January 31 for online filing. You can submit corrected forms online as well.
Avoid Fines and Penalties by Filing on Time
The penalties for late filing of W-2 forms are steep, 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.
There are maximum penalties for each due date above.