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Rev. date: 09/2006

Form W-2 – Where, When, and How to File


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Tele-Tax Topic 752

It is your responsibility, as an employer, to file Copy A of Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, with the Social Security Administration (SSA) for your employees, showing the wages paid and taxes withheld for the year. Since Form W-2 is the only document used to transmit information on your employees' social security and Medicare wages for the year, it is very important to prepare the forms correctly and timely.
There are separate Instructions W-2. Use Form W-3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements, as a cover sheet when filing one or more Forms W-2 with the SSA. Be sure to order Form W-3 when you order your W-2 forms. If you have questions about a particular box on Forms W-2 or W-3, refer to the instructions, which give a detailed explanation of each box. Here are a few important items to keep in mind when preparing Form W-2:
  1. Type all entries using black ink and, if possible, a 12-point Courier font.
  2. Use decimal points followed by cents (or zeroes for no cents). Do not use dollar signs or commas.
  3. Please do not make any erasures, cross-outs, or white-outs. Copy A, which is the first page, must be error free. If you make an error on a form, put an "X" in the "Void" box, go to the next Form W-2 and start again. Do not mark the next Form W–2 as corrected.
  4. Form W-2 is printed with two forms on a page. Send in the whole Copy A page (the page printed with red ink) even if one form is blank or void. Do not cut or fold the page nor staple Forms W-2 to each other, or to Form W-3.
The official Form W-2 comes in 6 copies. Copy A must be sent to the SSA with the transmittal Form W-3 by the last day of February of the year succeeding the tax year to which the forms relate. Special due dates apply if you have terminated your business. See Form W-2 and W-3 Instructions. Form W-3 is used to transmit the Forms W-2 and contains figures reflecting the box totals of all the Forms W-2 being sent. The address for mailing Copy A of the Forms W-2 and W–3 is listed in the separate Instructions W-2.
Keep Copy D of Form W-2 for your own records. Send Copy 1 to your state tax department. Contact that department for requirements and transmittal information. You must give the remaining copies of Form W-2 to the employee by January 31 of the succeeding calendar year. If an employee stops working for you before the end of the year, you may give your former employee Form W-2 anytime prior to January 31, but no later than January 31. If the employee asks for the Form W-2, you must give Copy B, Copy C, and Copy 2 to the employee within 30 days of the request, or within 30 days of the final wage payment, whichever is later.
The totals for amounts reported on the related forms, (Form 941, Form 943, Form 944, or Form 1040 (Schedule H) for the year) should equal those same totals reported on your Form W-2. If the totals do not match, you should generally make corrections. If you discover an error on an employee's Form W-2 after sending it to the SSA, submit a Form W-2c, Corrected Wage and Tax Statement. You must submit a transmittal Form W-3c, Transmittal of Corrected Wage and Tax Statements, with any Forms W-2c.
Employers filing 250 or more Forms W-2 must file electronically unless granted a waiver by the IRS. However, all employers are encouraged to file Forms W-2 electronically, even if filing fewer than 250 Forms W-2. If you file your Forms W-2 electronically, the due date is March 31st. For more information on electronic filing, refer to Tax Topic 801, Tax Topic 802, Tax Topic 803, Tax Topic 804, and Tax Topic 805. Additionally, by using a personal computer and a modem, you may obtain additional information on electronic filing of Forms W-2 from the SSA's Business Services Online (BSO). You can access BSO at You can also get electronic specifications by contacting the SSA's Employee Reporting Branch at 800–772–6270. SSA no longer accepts magnetic tapes, cartridges, or 3 1/2" diskettes. All Forms W-2 must be filed either electronically or on paper.
You may also want to refer to Publication 15, (Circular E), Employer's Tax Guide, Publication 51, ( Circular A), Agricultural Employer's Tax Guide, Publication 15-A, Employer's Supplemental Tax Guide, Publication 393, Federal Employment Tax Forms, Form 8809, Application for Extension of Time To File Information Returns, and Form 8508, Request for Waiver From Filing Information Returns Electronically.
previous pagePrevious Page: Social Security and Medicare Withholding Rates
next pageNext Page:  Form W-4 – Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate
 Use previous pagenext page to find additional instances of index items.