Be On The Look Out For Your W-2 Today, January 31st

by Hank Coleman

The W-2 Form, which is also called the “Wage and Tax Statement”, is used in the United States as an information return to report wages paid to employees and the taxes withheld from them. The form is also used to report FICA taxes to the Social Security Administration. Relevant amounts on Form W-2 are reported by the Social Security Administration to the Internal Revenue Service.

Employers are instructed by the IRS to send copies of the W-2 to their employees by January 31 each year.

Employers must complete a Form W-2 for each employee to whom they pay a salary, wage, or other compensation as part of the employment relationship. An employer must deliver the Form W-2 to employees on or before January 31 of the calendar year. The Form W-2 reports income on a calendar year (January 1 through December 31) basis, regardless of the fiscal year used by the employer or employee for other Federal tax purposes. However, this refers to the time period in which an employee has been compensated, not necessarily the actual dates of employment. After the final payroll in December, employment is normally compensated and subject to tax in the following year.

The form consists of six copies:

  • Copy A – Submitted by the employer to the Social Security Administration. (In addition, the employer must also submit Form W-3, which is a summary of all Forms W-2 completed, along with all Copies A submitted. The Form W-3 must be signed by the employer.)
  • Copy B – To be sent to the employee and filed by the employee with the employee’s federal income tax returns.
  • Copy C – To be sent to the employee, to be retained by the employee for the employee’s records.
  • Copy D – To be retained by the employer, for the employer’s records.
  • Copy 1 – To be filed with the employee’s state or local income tax returns (if any).
  • Copy 2 – To be filed with the employee’s state or local income tax returns (if any).
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