W-2 Form FAQs

W-2 General FAQs

Is red drop out ink required for the following forms?

There are two options when filing paper forms with the Social Security Administration:

  1. File on preprinted red drop out ink forms.
  2. File using laser-generated forms that have been approved by the Social Security Administration. Forms and data must be printed simultaneously by your software.

Both the form and data on all other copies (B, C, D, 1, and 2) of Form W-2 (W-2c) can be printed in black ink.

Are any perforations required on Form W-2?

There should be no horizontal perforations separating the two Forms W-2 (Copy A) on each page. If you use continuous red drop out ink forms, separate into 11” height pages and remove pin feed strips before filing with the Social Security Administration.

All other copies (B, C, D, 1, and 2) must be perforated between the individual forms.

What are the advantages of filing electronically vs. filing on paper?

Advantages of electronic filing:

  • The deadline for filing Form W-2 with the Social Security Administration is extended by one month, compared to paper filing
  • Paper handling and mailing is reduced
  • Submission status information is provided
  • Reduced environmental impact

Advantages of paper filing:

  • No software or hardware is required
  • Familiar process
  • Little to no technical knowledge required

W-2 Form FAQs

Who needs to file a W-2 (W-2c)?

W-2: Employers must file W-2 forms for wages paid to each employee from whom income, Social Security, or Medicare tax was withheld. Employers must also file W-2 forms for wages paid to each employee from whom income tax would have been withheld if the employee had claimed no more than one withholding allowance or had not claimed exemption from withholding. Lastly, every employer engaged in a trade or business who pays for services performed by an employee, including noncash payments, must file a Form W-2 for each employee.

W-2c: Form W-2c must be filed by employers to correct errors on W-2 forms that have been filed with the Social Security Administration.

What is each copy of Form W-2 (W-2c)?

Copies A, 1, and D are for the employer, and copies B, 2, and C are for the employee.

What is the filing process for Form W-2 (W-2c)?

Employer copies (A, 1 and D): Following the detailed instructions provided by the Internal Revenue Service, submit Copy A to the Social Security Administration either on paper or electronically; submit Copy 1 either on paper or electronically to the state, city, or local tax department, if applicable; and keep Copy D as the employer’s file copy.

Employee copies (B, 2, and C): Copy B is provided to the employee and is to be filed with the employee’s federal income tax return. Copy 2 is provided to the employee and is to be filed with the employee’s state, city, or local income tax return, if applicable; and Copy C is kept with the employee’s records.

If an error is discovered on Form W-2 after it has been submitted to the Social Security Administration, Form W-2c should be completed to correct the error, following the detailed instructions provided by the Internal Revenue Service. Use the same process for Form W-2c as for Form W-2 when creating and distributing copies to each agency and employee.

What are the deadlines for filing Form W-2?

January 31, 2014 - You must give copies B, C, and 2 of Form W-2 to each employee. Forms must be received or postmarked by January 31, 2014.

February 28, 2014 - Send Copy A of Form W-2 with Form W-3 to the Social Security Administration:

U.S. Mail*
Social Security Administration
Data Operations Center
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18769-0001
Other carriers:
Social Security Administration
Data Operations Center
Attn: W-2 Process
1150 E Mountain Drive
Wilkes-Barre, PA18702-7997

*If using certified mail, the address is the same, but the zip code must be changed to 18769-0002

If you file electronically, the deadline for filing Copy A of Form W-2 is March 31, 2014

Are filing extensions available?

You may request an automatic 30-day filing extension by completing Form 8809, Application for Extension of Time To File Information Returns,and sending it to the address listed on the form. You must file Form 8809 by the due date of the return in order to be granted the extension.

You may request a second 30-day extension by filing another Form 8809 before the end of the first extension period. However, this extension request is subject to review and will not automatically be granted. The Internal Revenue Service will review the request and notify you of its acceptance or denial with a written letter of explanation.

These extensions will only extend the due date for filing returns; you must still provide Forms W-2 to your employees by January 31, 2014. You may request an extension of time to furnish Forms W-2 to employees by sending a letter on or before the due date to:

IRS - Enterprise Computing Center - Martinsburg
Information Reporting Program
Attn: Extension of Time Coordinator
240 Murall Drive
Kearneysville, WV 25430

Your letter must include:

  • Your name and address
  • Your employer identification number (EIN)
  • A statement that you are requesting an extension to furnish “Forms W-2” to employees
  • A reason for delay
  • Your signature or that of your authorized agent

What is the deadline for filing Form W-2c?

File Form W-2c (all copies) as soon as possible after you discover an error. Send Copy A of Form W-2c with Form W-3c to the Social Security Administration:

U.S. Mail
Social Security Administration
Data Operations Center
PO Box 3333
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18767-3333
Other Carriers
Social Security Administration
Data Operations Center
Attn: W-2c Process
1150 E Mountain Drive
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702-7997

What if I discover an error after I filed Form W-2 with the Social Security Administration?

If you discover an error after you file Form W-2 with the Social Security Administration, file Form W-2c either electronically or on paper to correct errors on Form W-2.

Do I have to use Form W-2c if I discover an error before Form W-2 is filed with the Social Security Administration?

If an error is detected on Form W-2 after issuing the form to the employee, but before it is filed with the Social Security Administration, it is not necessary to use Form W-2c. Simply check the “Void” box at the top of the incorrect Form W-2 on Copy A, and prepare a new Form W-2 with the correct information. Send Copy A to the Social Security Administration. On copies B, C and 2 (employee copies), write "CORRECTED" on the new copies and issue them to the employee.

How do I know if I have the latest version of Forms W-2c and W-3c?

The current revision date for both Forms W-2c and W-3c is 2-2009.

How long must employers keep Forms W-2 on file?

Employers must keep Copy D of Forms W-2 for four years.

W-3 Form FAQs

What if corrections are discovered throughout the year that total more than 250? Do I file these on paper or electronically?

Any filer with 250 or more Forms W-2c during a calendar year must file them electronically, unless the Internal Revenue Service grants a waiver to the filer. For purposes of the electronic filing requirement, only Forms W-2c for the immediate prior year are counted. For example, if an employer must file 200 Forms W-2c for the immediate prior year (example: 2013) in March, 2014 and then discovers that another 100 Forms W-2c for the same year (2013) must be filed in August, 2014, only the 100 Forms W-2c that are filed in August must be filed electronically.

Do corrections have to be filed in the same manner that the originals were filed?

Corrections do not have to be filed in the same manner that the originals were filed; however, any filer with 250 or more Forms W-2c during a calendar year must file them electronically.

Can I e-file if I have less than 250 W-2s?

Yes. In fact, the Social Security Administration encourages e-filing as the preferred method of filing all W-2s.

Do I need consent / signatures from employees to e-file?

No. The employer is responsible for reporting the information and for the accuracy of the data, so no signature is required from the employee.

Is e-filing secure?

Yes. The Social Security Administration uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) communications protocol and 128-bit encryption to ensure data is transmitted securely over the Internet. This is a highly secure standard and is used by government agencies, software developers, and financial institutions.

How do I e-file?

Most software companies work with the Social Security Administration to offer a W-2 e-filing option. Refer to your software package for the specific steps to e-file.

How do I know if my submission was accepted?

Depending on the application used, you should retrieve submission statuses either from your software provider or directly from the Social Security Administration throughout the filing process. The receipt of your submission will likely be acknowledged with statuses such as "Received", "In Process", or "Complete".

What causes a file to be rejected, and what should I do if my initial submission is rejected?

The Social Security Administration does not publish all of the situations that will cause a filing to be rejected. However, some common reasons for rejections are:

  • The sum of the Social Security wages and Social Security tips equals the prior year maximum.
  • The employer’s EIN begins with 00, 07, 08, 09, 17, 18, 19, 28, 29, 49, 69, 70, 78, 79 or 89.
  • The employee’s social security number begins with an 8 or 9
  • The employee’s social security number is fictitious (for example 111111111, 333333333, or 123456789).

If you receive a notification indicating that your submission was rejected, you must fix any errors in the form and resubmit the data in the same manner as the original submission. Your updated file should be received by the Social Security Administration within 45 days from the date of rejection.

Rejections should not be confused with corrections. If you notice an error on a W-2 submission that has been filed with the Social Security Administration, you must correct the error by submitting a W-2c. For more information on corrections, see question 5.

What penalties are associated with W-2 reporting?

If you fail to file a correct W-2 by the due date, and cannot show reasonable cause, you may be subject to a penalty. Penalties apply for:

  • Failing to file on time
  • Failing to include all required information
  • Failing to meet electronic filing requirements
  • Failing to file compliant paper forms, or
  • Failing to include correct information

The amount of the penalty is based on when the W-2 is filed:

  • $30 per Form W-2 if filed correctly within 30 days of the due date. The maximum penalty is $250,000 per year ($75,000 for small businesses).
  • $60 per Form W-2 if filed correctly more than 30 days after the due date but by August 1. The maximum penalty is $500,000 per year ($200,000 for small businesses).
  • $100 per Form W-2 if you file after August 1or you do not file the required Forms W-2. The maximum penalty is $1,500,000 per year ($500,000 for small businesses).
  • If failure to file a correct Form W-2 is due to intentional disregard of the filing or correct information requirements, the penalty is at least $250 per Form W-2 with no maximum penalty.

Why are Forms W-3 (W-3c) not required when filing electronically?

When filing electronically, the information normally reported on Form W-3 (W-3c) is already part of the W-2 (W-2c) e-file submission in the total records portion of the file.

Are there waivers available if I don't want to and/or can't e-file? If so, what is the process to apply for a waiver?

If you have a hardship and cannot file electronically, the Internal Revenue Service may waive the electronic filing requirement if you can show cause. To request a waiver, you must apply 45 days before the due date of the report using Internal Revenue Service Form 8508, Request for Waiver from Filing Information Returns Electronically.

Filing Prior Year W-2s: How do I do this?

The entries on Form W-2 must be based on wages paid during the calendar year. If filing prior year information electronically,follow your software provider’s instructions for filing previous year information.

If filing a prior year W-2 on paper, the year printed on Form W-2 must match the year for which the wages were paid. Also file the prior year Form W-3 that matches the year of the Forms W-2 being filed.

W-2 Electronic Filing FAQs

What is a W-3 (W-3c) and who needs to file Form W-3 (W-3c)?

Form W-3 (W-3c) is used to summarize and transmit Copy A of Forms W-2 (W-2c) when filing on paper with the Social Security Administration. If you file one or more W-2 (W-2c) forms (Copy A) on paper, you must also file Form W-3 (W-3c).

What is the filing process for Form W-3 (W-3c)?

W-3: Complete the information on Form W-3 following the instructions provided by the Internal Revenue Service. Submit Form W-3 with Copy A of Forms W-2 to the Social Security Administration. If you file more than one kind of payer (see check boxes in box b), group Forms W-2 of the same kind of payer with a separate Form W-3 for each kind, and send them in separate groups.

W-3c: Complete the information on Form W-3c following the instructions provided by the Internal Revenue Service. Submit Form W-3c with Copy A of Forms W-2c to the Social Security Administration. File a separate Form W-3c for each tax year and for each kind of payer except "Third-party sick pay."

How should the transmittal be attached to Forms W-2 (W-2c)?

W-3 (follow the same process for W-3c): Form W-3 should be included in the same package with the W-2 forms; however, do not staple or tape Form W-3 to the W-2 forms. Also, do not staple or tape Forms W-2 to each other.