What Business Owners Need To Know About W-2 Form (2024)

Key Takeaways

  • Employers must prepare a W-2 form for each employee at the end of every tax year, showing an employee's total earnings, Social Security earnings, Medicare earnings, and the federal and state withholding tax.
  • You must give a copy of the W-2 form to each employee and send all forms to the Social Security Administration (SSA) by January 31 of the year following the tax year.
  • The best way to submit W-2 forms to the SSA is electronically, but you can send in paper W-2s by mail if you have fewer than 250 forms to submit.

How a W-2 Form Works

The W-2 form provides employees with information that must be included in their income taxes. It also gives the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) information to verify the employee's income tax return.

You must give W-2 forms to your employees by the end of January of the year following the tax year. For example, if you are reporting on employee income for 2022, you must give it to them by January 31, 2023. January 31 is also the deadline to file W-2 forms for all of your employees with the IRS and SSA.

Where To Send Copies

A W-2 form is a multipart form:

  • Copy A goes to the Social Security Administration
  • Copy 1 is for the city, state, or locality
  • Copy B is for filing with the employee's federal tax return
  • Copy C is for the employee's records
  • Copy 2 is another copy for the employee’s city, state, or locality
  • Copy D is for the employer's records. Keep it for four years

Where To Get W-2 Forms

You can't just copy the W-2 form from the internet. Copy A of the form must be scannable by the SSA, and if you print it yourself from the web, it won't be scannable. You can order the forms from the IRS website, and those forms will be printed on special scannable paper.

You can also buy them from office supply stores or Amazon. is printed on special paper, so you must use the official forms. You may also be able to get them from some tax software programs or your tax preparer.

How To File W-2 Forms with Social Security

You can file W-2 forms by mail or online.

Filing by Mail

You can send the SSA paper copies of the W-2s for all employees. If you file by mail you will need to include a W-3 form, which is the transmittal form that shows the totals for all boxes on the W-2 form.

The address for filing paper forms W-2 and W-3 is:

Social Security Administration
Direct Operations Center
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18769-0001.

Filing Online

The SSA encourages employers to file online, and you must do so if you have 250 or more W-2 forms to file. You can register and use the SSA's Business Services Online site. If you file W-2s online, you don't need to include the W-3 form.

Information Needed to Complete W-2 Forms

To complete the W-2 form, you'll need information on your business, on the employee, and on the employee's earnings, withholding, and benefits.

Information About Your Business

For each W-2, you will need to include information about your business. You’ll need to put down your Employer Identification Number as well as your business’s name, address, and state tax ID number.

Employee Information

In order to fill out W-2s, you'll need to have each employee’s name, address, and Social Security Number or tax identification number.

Employee Earning Information

You will need information on total wages and withholding for each employee for the tax year in question:

  • Total wages, tip income, and other compensation
  • Total Social Security wages (up to the Social Security maximum)
  • Total Medicare wages
  • Social Security tips and allocated tips

Tip

Wages used to calculate Social Security and Medicare may be different from an employee's gross pay. Check with your tax professional before you calculate wages on Form W-2.

Information About Retirement Plans

In Box 13 of each W-2 you will need to indicate if the employee participates in a retirement plan or a non-qualified plan with your company, if this employee is a statutory employee, or if the person received third-party sick pay.

Where To Find Information for the W-2 Form

The information for this form comes from your payroll register, which should have year-to-date totals for each employee’s wages and withholding, as well as deductions for medical plans, health savings accounts, and other items.

You should also have on file a current W-4 form for each employee. It contains information on their taxpayer ID numbers and withholding amounts.

Correcting Mistakes on W-2 Forms

Before you send W-2 forms to employees, check for errors. If you do make a mistake, you can easily correct the form and give the corrected form back to the employee.

If the mistake is discovered after you have submitted the forms to the Social Security Administration, you must follow a specific process to correct the form. It involves submitting W-2c and W-3c forms.

Warning

W-2 forms can be complicated, and there are penalties for giving incorrect information. Consider getting help from a payroll expert or your tax professional before you attempt to complete W-2 forms yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of a W-2 Form?

The W-2 form records information that employees must use when preparing their personal tax returns. The information includes wages, tips or other compensation, federal and state income tax withheld, Social Security and Medicare wages and tips, and information on certain employee benefits.

Who must file a W-2?

An employer must file a W-2 for any employee who performed services for the business during a year if:

  • You withheld any income, Social Security, or Medicare tax from the employee’s wages, no matter the amount
  • You paid the employee $600 or more in wages for the year, even if there was no withholding
  • The employee claimed exemption from withholding on Form W-4

How do I get W-2 forms?

You can get W-2 and W-3 forms directly from the IRS by ordering online. You may also be able to use W-2 forms provided by business tax software services or office supply companies. Look at the label beneath the form to make sure you have the correct year for these forms.

What Business Owners Need To Know About W-2 Form (2024)
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