Preparing and Filing Form W-3

Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements

Filing W-3 Forms Online
••• hh5800/Getty Images

New Earlier Filing Date for W-2 forms and W-3 Form

The IRS has announced that the filing deadline for 2017 W-2s and 1099 forms, including W-3 forms, is January 31, 2019. That's a month earlier than the former filing date.

The earlier filing date doesn't change the deadline for giving W-2 forms to employees. That deadline remains January 31, 2019. That means both the dates are the same.

Because the date you give W-2 forms to employees and the date for filing W-2 and W-3 forms with the Social Security Administration are the same, you might want to give W-2 forms to employees earlier in January, to give time to find errors.

What is Form W-3?

Form W-3 is a compilation/summary return, which shows the totals from W-2 forms which you submitted for employees. The W-3 must be submitted to the IRS along with these statements. If you e-file your W-2s with the Social Security Administration's Business Services Online site, you don't need to include a W-3 form; the W-3 is calculated automatically. Read more about how to e-file W-2s.

How Do I Get Copies of Form W-3 to File? 

You can buy printed forms at an office supply store, or you can create "fill-in" forms through the Social Security Administration's Business Services Online section. The business versions of the major tax preparation software apps usually have copies of Forms W-2 and W-3 that you can use. 

If you want to print out Form W-3, you must use special scannable forms; you can't just print out the form from a website and use it. 

When Must I File Form W-3?

Form W-3 must be submitted to the Social Security Administration no later than January 31 the year following the tax year, along with a copy of all the W-2 statements which it summarizes. This is the due date for both paper and electronically filed reports. If January 31 falls on a weekend or holiday, the form is due the next business day. 

NOTE: If you file W-2 forms electronically with the Social Security Administration, you don't need to file a W-3 form.

Where Do I File Form W-3/W-2s? Can I File Online?

You may file W-2 forms online by enrolling in Social Security's Business Services Online program. You do not need to file Form W-3 along with W-2 forms you file online. If you are filing 250 or more W-2 forms, you must file them online. 

If you are filing paper forms, you can send the W-2 and W-3 forms to the Social Security Administration through the post office or private delivery service. 

How Do I Complete Form W-3?

  1. The control number (Box a) is optional.
  2. In Box b, check the box that describes how you pay employment taxes. You probably pay on Form 941 or Form 944.
  3. In Box c, enter the total number of W-2s you are attaching. Enter your Employer ID Number in Box e.
  4. In Boxes f and g, enter your business name and address.
  5. Boxes 1 through 14 correspond to the boxes on the W-2, and you must enter the totals for all W-2s for each of these categories. For example, in Box 1, enter the total wages, tips, and other compensation on all W-2s you are submitting.
  1. Boxes 15 through 18 are your state identifier and totals for state income and withholding for all W-2s.
  2. Finally, the W-3 must be signed to verify its accuracy.

How Do I Submit Corrected W-3 Forms? 

If there are mistakes on the original W-2 and W-3 forms, you can submit these corrected forms electronically to the Social Security Administration. If you are filing paper copies of Form W-3C, send these to Social Security Administration Direct Operations Center P.O. Box 3333 Wilkes-Barre, PA 18767-3333. 

Other Instructions for W-3 Forms 

The W-3, along with Copy A of all W-2s, must be submitted to the Social Security Administration, NOT the IRS! You don't need to prepare and submit W-3 forms for W-2 forms you file electronically. 

Be sure that all the information on the W-3 about you, including your EIN, is the same as on the W-2 forms you are submitting and that all the totals match the total amounts on the W-2s.

Don't forget to sign and date the form.