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W-2 Distribution: When Should I File?

The beginning of the New Year is a time for celebration, commemorating last year’s accomplishments and pledging new goals for the New Year. However, don’t get caught up in the excitement and forget to submit your W-2’s. Although a letdown for many, W-2 form distribution is required. That is unless you want to run the risk of accruing fines and penalties, which can really lead to a rough start to the New Year. So don’t let the stress of filing ruin your party, just know the deadlines and plan accordingly.


Employers are required by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to distribute copies of the W-2 form to employees whom receive cash or noncash compensation from which taxes are withheld, as well as file with the IRS. According to the IRS Department of the Treasury, for employees who have no income tax withheld, employers must notify them alerting them that they might be able to claim an income tax refund based on the earned income credit notice (EIC). The EIC notice can be found on the back of Copy B or you may elect to use a substitute statement which contains the same wording. Reasons for using a substitute statement are as follows, if you use

(A) An alternate Form W-2 that does not contain the EIC notice,

(b) You are not required to supply a W-2, or

(C) You did not supply a timely W-2 to your employee.

For more detailed information, refer to the General Instructions Form supplied by the IRS Department of the Treasury.

Important Dates

Regarding deadlines, there are two important dates every business owner should mark on their calendars. Jan. 31 being  the first of the two dates in which employers must deliver W-2 copies “B”, “C” and “2” to employees. By IRS standards, mailing copies on or before the date meets the deadline requirements granted the forms show the correct mailing addresses. In the event that an employee is terminated before Dec. 31 of the current tax year, employers may send the W-2 form anytime after termination but no later than Jan. 31.

Filing with the IRS using paper forms comes later, specifically Feb. 28 or 29 granted there is a leap year, while the deadline to file using business services online is March 31. Employers must submit part “A” of the W-2 form along with Form W-3 in order to meet requirements. However, if an employer chooses to submit W-2 forms electronically the deadline for submission extends to April 2. Under these same deadlines, employers must submit part “1” to the state tax department. Part “D” is kept on record for the employer.

The Solution

With a wide-array of distribution dates and points of contact, the process for W-2 distribution can be confusing and overwhelming. Ease your mind with a tool that can help you limit your payroll responsibilities by handling your taxes and deposits. No more worrying about entering incorrect information; with payroll tax management all your year-to-date totals are converted and balanced for you through a single application. Additionally, your taxes will be deposited on their assigned date and your tax fillings signed and sent.  All of your information is safe and updates one time, so you avoid the additional hassle of inputting data multiple times. You can rest easy knowing that your tax burdens are taken care of. So take a minute and celebrate… because you can.