The W-2 statement reports an employee’s annual wages, federal and state taxes withheld, Social Security and Medicare taxes paid, and other deductions. W-2 forms serve as proof of income and tax withholding for employees to use when filing their tax returns. Timely submission of W-2s is required by law – employers must mail them out by January 31. In addition to providing copies to staff, companies must also send W-2 information to the Social Security Administration and state agencies. As official income and withholding statements, W-2s allow the government to track earnings for benefit purposes. Both employers and employees should ensure these year-end tax forms are accurate, as they form the basis for reporting wages and withholding amounts to the IRS.
W-2 Due Date
Employers must furnish W-2s to staff by January 31, file them with the SSA by Feb 28, and employees must report W-2 data on their tax return by April 15.
W-2 Form Parts Description
Ensuring each copy reaches its proper destination is an important part of W-2 reporting compliance.
- Copy A – This copy is submitted to the Social Security Administration by the employer along with the W-3 transmittal form. It reports the employee’s annual wages and withholdings.
- Copy B – This copy is sent to the employee by January 31st. Employees attach this to their tax return as proof of income and withholdings.
- Copy C – This copy also goes to the employee by January 31st. They keep this copy for their records.
- Copy 2 – This optional copy goes to the employee for state/local reporting purposes in certain jurisdictions.
- Copy D – This copy stays with the employer. Companies should retain this for their records for at least 4 years.
W-2 Filing Instructions
- Gather employee information: Collect each employee’s name, address, Social Security number, wages paid, taxes withheld, etc.
- Prepare W-2 forms: Fill out a Form W-2 for every employee using the information gathered. Carefully check for accuracy.
- Distribute to employees: Mail Copy B, C, and 2 to each employee by January 31st. This reports their individual earnings and withholdings.
- File with SSA: Send Copy A of each W-2 along with the W-3 transmittal form to the Social Security Administration by February 28. This reports payroll data.
- File state forms:Submit copies of W-2s to your state tax department, if required. Due dates vary by state.
- Maintain records:Hold onto company copies of W-2s (Copy D) for at least 4 years for tax purposes.
- Issue corrected forms: If you identify W-2 errors after filing, prepare and file corrected returns as soon as possible.