If you paid wages to employees and withheld taxes, you must file W-2s with the Social Security Administration. If you have up to 50 employees, you may file electronically via the SSA’s Business Services Online system. The service is secure and provides you with instant proof that you filed. You have until March 31 to file electronically; paper filers have until the last day of February. You can also print W-2s and distribute them to your employees.
Business Services Online Registration
To access BSO, you must first register. Go to the Social Security Administration, Business Services Online website and select the “Register” button. You will need to provide specific information, such as your name, date of birth, Social Security number, address, phone number and email address. After your registration is confirmed, you will have your user ID and password.
Forms W-2/W-3 Online
To create W-2s, you will need to access BSO’s Forms W-2/W-3 Online. You must also perform some preliminary steps, such as choosing a tax year, entering your employer identification number, and ensuring no exceptions or restrictions apply. For example, you cannot use Forms W-2/W-3 Online if you’re filing a tax year prior to 2011 or you’re correcting a previously filed W-2. To compose W-2s, follow the instructions on the BSO’s wage report page. Complete each W-2 as you would for the paper version. Record employees’ wages, taxes withheld and applicable benefits in the appropriate boxes.
Forms W-2/W-3 Online allows you to create, save, print or submit W-2s. You can print and review W-2s before submitting them. If you already submitted your W-2s, you have up to 30 days after the submission date to download your W-2s, which are available in PDF format. If you have pre-filled, unfinished W-2s, the system will inform you that the forms are incomplete. BSO sends your W-2s only to the SSA. It does not send them to applicable state and local revenue agencies. You must forward them yourself.
Forms W-2c/W-3c Online
To correct a submitted W-2, file a W-2c using Forms W-2c/W-3c Online. This system lets you file and print a corrected W-2 regardless of the original submission format. You may correct submitted W-2s only for wages earned in the previous three years, three months and 15 days. You may complete and print up to 25 W-2cs.
W-3 and W-3c Services
A W-3 is a transmittal form that shows total wages and withholding for all employees for the year. You must include a W-3 when sending your employees’ W-2s to the SSA. To file and print a W-3, access Forms W-2/W-3 Online. To file and print a corrected W-3, use Forms W-2c/W-3c Online.
Filing and Printing for More than 50 Employees
If you have more than 50 employees, you might be able to use the BSO's "file upload" system to file and print W-2s. For file format specifications, go to the Social Security Administration, Employer W-2 Filing Instructions and Information website. Choose "Publications and Forms" then "Specifications for Filing Forms W-2 and W-2c Electronically." Select the appropriate specifications link.
Grace Ferguson has been writing professionally since 2009. With 10 years of experience in employee benefits and payroll administration, Ferguson has written extensively on topics relating to employment and finance. A research writer as well, she has been published in The Sage Encyclopedia and Mission Bell Media.