1997 Tax Help Archives  

Form W-2 - Where, When, and How to File

This is archived information that pertains only to the 1997 Tax Year. If you
are looking for information for the current tax year, go to the Tax Prep Help Area.

It is your responsibility as an employer to file Forms W-2 with the Social Security Administration for your employees, showing the wages paid and taxes withheld for the year. Since the Form W-2 is the only document used to transmit information on your employees' social security and Medicare wages for the year, it is very important to prepare the forms correctly and timely.

There are separate instructions for the Form W-2. Be sure to order them when you order your W-2 Forms. If you have questions on any particular box on the form, refer to the instructions, which give a detailed explanation of each box. Here are a few important items to keep in mind when preparing Form W-2:

  1. Type all entries using black ink.
  2. Do not use dollar signs or commas, but do use decimal points followed by cents or zeroes for no cents.
  3. Please do not make any erasures, cross-outs, or white-outs. Copy A, which is the first page, must be error free. If you make an error on a form, put an "X" in the "Void" box, and go to the next Form W-2 and start again. Do not mark the next W-2 as corrected.
  4. The W-2 is printed with two forms on a page. Send in the whole Copy A page (the page printed with red ink) even if one form is blank or void. Do not cut the page.
  5. Show subtotals on every 42nd form for the preceding 41 forms. Do not count amounts from voided forms in your subtotals. If your total number of Forms W-2 is less than 42, it is not necessary to do a subtotal form.

The Form W-2 comes with 6 copies. Copy A must be sent to the Social Security Administration with the transmittal Form W-3 by March 2, 1998. The Form W-3 is used to transmit the W-2's and contains figures reflecting the total of all the W-2's being sent. The address for mailing Copy A of the W-2's and the W-3 form is listed in the W-2 instructions.

Keep the last copy of the Form W-2, Copy D, for your own records. Send Copy 1 to your State Tax Department for requirements and transmittal information. You must give the remaining copies to the employee by February 2, 1998. If an employee stops working for you before the end of the year, you may give your former employee the copies anytime prior to February 2, 1998. If the employee asks for the Form W-2, you must give the copies to the employee within 30 days of the request or final wage payment, whichever is later.

The totals for the amounts reported on the related Forms 941, 943, or Schedule H (Form 1040) for the year should equal those same totals reported on your Form W-2. If the totals do not agree, you should make corrections. If you discover an error on an employee's W-2 after sending it to the Social Security Administration, you should submit a Form W-2c, Statement of Corrected Income and Tax Amounts. You must also submit a transmittal Form W-3c with the Form W-2c, unless you are changing only the employee's name or social security number.

All employers may file Form W-2 on magnetic media. However, employers filing 250 or more Forms W-2 must report on magnetic media unless granted a waiver by the IRS. For more information on magnetic media refer to Topics 801, 802, 803, 804, and 805. Using a personal computer and a modem, you may obtain additional information on magnetic media filing of Form W-2 by dialing Social Security's electronic bulletin board at (410) 965-1133. This is not a toll-free number.

Forms W-2, W-3, and instructions can be ordered by calling 1-800-829-3676. You may also want to order Publication 15, Employer's Tax Guide, Publication 15-A, Employer's Supplemental Tax Guide, and Publication 393, Federal Employment Tax Forms.

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