How to File W-2 Forms Online

You Can Take Man of the Headaches out of Filing If You Do It Online

How to E-File Form W-2
••• Ali Majdfar/Getty Images

if you have W-2 forms to file for annual wage reports for employees, the easiest way to file these form is to file them online. Here's what you need to know.

When is the Filing Deadline for W-2 Forms?

The filing deadline was moved up a few years ago.The deadline to file W-2 forms with the Social Security Administration (SSA) is now January 31 of the following year, beginning in 2018 and going forward. For 2018 W-2 forms, the filing deadline is January 31, 2019.

That's a month earlier than the former filing date. The change was made to help prevent tax fraud, and the earlier date applies to all filings, including both paper and online submissions. Your filings will be considered on time if they're submitted by this date, and filing online makes it much easier.

W-2 forms must be given to employees no later than January 31. It's a good idea to give completed W-2 forms to your employees early in January so they can look them over and you can make corrections if necessary before the deadline.

What Are W-2 Forms and W-3 Forms? 

W-2 forms are used to report employee wages and salaries to the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA uses the information for Social Security benefit purposes and it shares the information with the IRS for income tax purposes. 

You must issue a W-2 form to each employee from whom you've withheld FICA taxes (Social Security and Medicare), and federal and state income taxes. You must also issue a W-2 form to anyone who should have had income tax withheld. This situation might come up if the employee (on Form W-4) claimed no more than one allowance or didn't claim an exemption from withholding, or if income tax would have been withheld except the employee claimed no more than one allowance or did not claim an exemption from withholding.

W-3s are transmittal forms that must accompany W-2s. They summarize the information on all the W-2 forms you send to the SSA. They're not required if you file your W-2 forms with the SSA online. 

How Do You File Online? 

You can e-file Forms W-2 online at the SSA's Business Services Online (BSO) website. It's free and it's secure, and the SSA very much prefers that you use this option rather than submit paper records.

The BSO offers two options. You can create fill-in versions of these forms and print out copies for filing with state or local governments, as well as for distribution to employees and for your own records—up to 50 at a time. Or you can simply upload your wage files if you use tax or payroll software.

Filing 250 or More W-2 Forms? You Must File Online

If you file 250 or more Forms W-2 during a calendar year, you must file them electronically unless the IRS grants you a waiver. You may be charged a penalty if you fail to file electronically when required.

The Benefits of e-Filing W-2 Forms 

E-filing saves time and effort and helps ensure accuracy, according to the IRS. And you can avoid calculating and submitting a W-3 transmittal form because the Social Security Administration will generate a W-3 automatically when you submit your W-2s.

You can also use the BSO site to verify Social Security Numbers for wage reporting purposes, and it offers a tutorial, handbooks, a checklist, and lots of other useful information to help you e-file those forms.

You can submit W-2c forms here as well to correct the error if you make a mistake in one or more W-2 forms after you've filed.

Before You Submit the Forms Electronically

You must first register with the Social Security Administration's Business Services Online section before you can submit your W-2 forms online. Then you must create and save your W-2 forms using a special file format and submit them to BSO.

You can view the uploaded files and see error reports after the files are submitted, including name and Social Security number mismatches. This allows you an opportunity to make any necessary corrections.

You can also review the status of your submission and see if the file has been accepted.