Depending on the types of workers they hire, employers may be required by the Internal Revenue Service to give people who work for them W-2 forms. The forms must generally be given to employees by a certain date each year. Employers who fail to distribute W-2 forms to their employees by the deadline can receive fines and penalties. State laws, including deadlines to give workers’ W-2 forms, may vary from federal rules.

Due Date to File W2s

All employees who are paid $600 or more a year must receive a W-2 form from their employer. The latest employees can receive their W-2s from their employers is generally Jan. 31. Additionally, W-2 forms must be filed with the Social Security Administration by March 31 if employers file the forms with the SSA electronically. Paper forms must generally be sent to the SSA by Feb. 28. If employers do not give employees an accurate W-2 form by the deadline, or if they submit late forms to the SSA, they can receive a $30 penalty from the IRS for each form they file late by 30 or fewer days. For filing W-2 forms between 31 and 59 days late, employers can be fined $60 for each late W-2 form. If employees and the SSA do not receive W-2s by Aug. 31, employers can be assessed a $100 fine for each late W-2 form.

Extension Requests

If employers need additional time to prepare and give employees their W-2 forms, they must contact the IRS in writing and request an extension. In their letter to the IRS requesting the extension, they must include information like their business name, street address, employer identification number (EIN) and the names of employees for whom they are requesting an extension. They must also provide the reason they are requesting an extension. Requests for Social Security filing extensions must be submitted to the SSA on Form 8809.

Required Data

Data required on W-2 forms include the employee’s name and Social Security number. Employers must also provide their business name, EIN and street address on the forms. The gross and net wages and state and federal income taxes withheld from each employee’s paycheck are also required on W-2s. Other information that must be recorded on W-2 forms are the amount of Medicare and Social Security taxes withheld from each employee’s pay.

Penalty Exceptions

If employers are unable to give employees their W-2 forms by the Jan. 31 deadline or file W-2 forms with the Social Security Administration by March 31 due to unforeseen and unpreventable causes, the IRS might not assess penalties for late filing. Employers are responsible for proving that they were unable to file the W-2s on time due to no fault of their own.

IRS Filings

Employers can report employee wage and tax information and pay income, Medicare and Social Security taxes on behalf of their workers to the IRS quarterly or annually. Quarterly employee wages and taxes are filed by employers on Form 941, titled the Employer’s Quarterly Tax Return. Employees’ annual wages and withholdings are reported on Form 944; this form is named the Employer’s Annual Tax Return. Company owners who own agricultural businesses report their employees’ wages and tax withholdings on Form 943, the Employer’s Annual Tax Return for Agricultural Employees. If employers file these forms late, they can be assessed a fee that ranges between 2 and 15 percent of the amount of combined income, Medicare and Social Security taxes they must pay to the government on behalf of their employees.