The deadline for filing W-2s with the Social Security Administration has been pushed up a month, giving employers until Jan. 31 to file the forms.
The date was moved to give the IRS more time to verify tax returns and process refunds more quickly. However, the accelerated deadline – which is the same date required for filing 1099s – can result in more errors as employers rush to get the forms filed on time.
The good news is the IRS will not assess a penalty for de minimis errors. In other words, no penalty will apply if the error for any single amount is $100 or less, or the tax withheld differs from the correct amount by no more than $25.
Even with the safe harbor, it is advisable to take care and make sure all the information on the W-2s is correct. The following are some common errors employers make when completing the forms:
- 941/W-2/W-3 matching errors. Make sure the figures entered on your quarterly 941 forms match the totals on the W-2s. Also be sure the Employer Identification Number on the 941 matches the EIN on the W-2s.
- W-2 formatting errors. Make sure the tax year, employment type and tax jurisdiction, including the state and city, are correct.
- Incorrect employee name. Employees’ names and Social Security numbers must match, so confirm you have the correct information before filing the W-2s. Also double check to ensure the first and last name is not reversed on the form. Some other mistakes can occur when an employee has a hyphenated name or one that has an apostrophe (e.g., O’Reilly); when an employee’s name has a suffix (Jr., Sr., III); or when an employee has changed his or her name as a result of a recent marriage or divorce.
- Filing a W-2 for the year after an employee dies. Payments on behalf of a deceased employee made after the year of death are reported to the beneficiary or estate on Form 1099, not a W-2.
- Making entries that are too small or too large. The IRS recommends using 12-point Courier font, if possible.
- Making entries using ink that is too light. The IRS recommends using black ink.
- Dollar signs added to the money-amount boxes.
- Inappropriately checking the “Retirement plan” checkbox.
- The forms don’t balance. This can occur when:
- The Social Security wage base is used for a prior year;
- The Social Security wage base is used for Medicare wages;
- Decimals in monetary entries are misplaced;
- The Social Security tax is greater than $0 and the Social Security wages are entered as $0;
- Medicare tax is greater than $0 and Medicare wages are $0;
- Medicare wages are less than Social Security wages;
- Employees’ Medicare taxes are balanced with the employer’s Medicare taxes. There will be an imbalance for high earners who pay the additional Medicare tax since there is no employer matching contribution.
If you are filing more than 250 W-2s, federal filing must be completed electronically. Otherwise, you may file on paper. While the federal forms must be filed by Jan. 31, each state has its own e-filing thresholds and due dates.
Please see the following chart, as provided courtesy Payroll Legal Alert:
2016 W-2 Filing Dates/E-Filing Requirements
(Paper or electronic)
|AL||Jan. 31||Mandatory, 25 or more forms; e-filing|
|AR||Feb. 28||Mandatory, 250 or more forms; e-filing, CD, DVD|
|AZ||Feb. 28||Voluntary; CD, DVD|
|CA||No W-2 filing|
|CO||Jan. 31||Mandatory, 250 or more forms; e-filing|
|CT||Jan. 31||Mandatory, all employees; e-filing|
|DC||Jan. 31||Mandatory, 25 or more forms; e-filing|
|DE||Jan. 31||Mandatory, 250 or more forms; e-filing|
|GA||Jan. 31||Mandatory, 250 or more federal forms or employers required to remit electronically; e-filing|
|HI||Feb. 28||No e-filing|
|IA||Jan. 31||Mandatory, 50 or more employers; e-filing|
|ID||Jan. 31||Mandatory, 250 federal forms with 50 Idaho forms; e-filing|
|IL||Feb. 15 (e-filed forms)||Mandatory, payroll providers and employers with 250 or more forms; e-filing|
|IN||Jan. 31||Mandatory, 26 or more forms; e-filing|
|KS||Feb. 28||Mandatory, 51 or more forms; e-filing|
|KY||Jan. 31||Mandatory, 100 or more forms; e-filing, CD|
|LA||Jan. 31||Mandatory, 100 or more forms; e-filing, CD, DVD|
|MA||Jan. 31||Mandatory, 50 or more forms; e-filing|
|MD||Jan. 31||Mandatory, 25 or more forms; e-filing|
|ME||Feb. 28 (paper);
March 31 (e-filed forms)
|Mandatory, 250 or more federal forms; e-filing|
|MI||Feb. 28||Mandatory, 250 or more forms; cartridge or CD|
|MN||Jan. 31||Mandatory, 10 or more forms; e-filing|
(Jan. 31, eff. 1-1-18)
|Mandatory, 250 or more forms; CD or flash drive|
|MS||Jan. 31||Mandatory, 25 or more forms, or forms filed after 1/31/14; e-filing|
|MT||Feb. 28||Voluntary; e-filing|
|NC||Jan. 31||Mandatory, 250 or more forms; CD|
|ND||Feb. 28 (paper);
March 31 (e-filed forms)
|Mandatory, 250 or more forms, or payroll service provider; e-filing, CD, USB flash drive, email with text file attachment|
|NE||Feb. 1||Mandatory, more than 50 forms; e-filing|
|NJ||Feb. 28||Voluntary; e-filing|
|NM||Feb. 28||Voluntary; e-filing, CD|
|NY||No W-2 filing|
|OH||Jan. 31 (paper);
Feb. 28 (e-filed forms)
|Mandatory, 250 or more forms; CD-ROM|
|OK||Feb. 28||Mandatory, all employers; e-filing|
|OR||Jan. 31||Mandatory, all employers; e-filing|
|PA||Jan. 31||Mandatory, 250 or more forms; E-Tides, CD, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org|
|RI||Jan. 31||Mandatory, 250 or more federal forms and 25 or more state forms|
|SC||Jan. 31||Mandatory, 250 or more forms; e-filing|
|UT||Jan. 31||Mandatory, all employers; e-filing|
|VA||Jan. 31||Mandatory, all employers; e-filing|
|VT||Jan. 31||Mandatory, 26 or more forms; e-filing|
|WI||Jan. 31||Mandatory, 50 or more forms; e-filing; PDFs created at the SSA’s website (W-2 Online)|
|WV||Feb. 28||Mandatory, 50 or more forms; e-filing, CD-ROM|