Difference Between W-2 & W-3 Forms

by Neil Kokemuller - Updated September 26, 2017
Income Tax Time

The primary difference between a W-2 and a W-3 is that a W-3 form is transmitted by an employer to the Social Security Administration, whereas copies of a W-2 are sent by the employer to an employee, the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service.The W-3 is a summary report of earnings details for all employees in a company, while the W-2 documents earnings information for individual employees.

Information Details

A W-2 form includes all the earnings and deductions information an employee needs to input when filing a tax return. It includes wages for the year, withholdings and deductions. In some cases, workers can import W-2 forms directly into a tax preparation software program. Otherwise, the data is inputted manually. A W-3 form summarizes total earnings, Social Security wages and Medicare wages for all people employed by a firm. This data is used by the Social Security Administration.

Submission Process

An employer is required to send W-2 statements to all employees by Jan. 31 following the tax year. This deadline allows workers ample time to prepare returns by April 15. Employers must transmit electronically or mail paper copies of all W-2 and W-3 forms to the Social Security Administration by the end of February. Even if W-2 forms are completed for employees by the Jan. 31 deadline, companies must submit both forms at the same time to the Social Security Administration.

About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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