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W-2 and 1099 Filing: What You Need to Know

By   Angie Ziegler

December 01, 2017

Birdseye View of Board Room

With the change in calendar year comes the time to file taxes and fill out your information returns.

The federal deadline for employers to file 2017 Forms W-2 is Jan. 31, 2018. By this day, you, as an employer, must submit your copies of Form W-2 to the Social Security Administration (SSA). It doesn’t matter if you file by paper or electronically.  

This date sounds familiar …
The Jan. 31 deadline is also the day you need to provide employees with their copies of Form W-2.

This filing deadline also applies to payments to independent contractors. Those are completed using Forms 1099-MISC.

Need a bit of extra time?
Only one 30-day extension is available for Form W-2. To request an extension, you have to fill out Form 8809 Application for Extension of Time to File Information Returns. You must have Form 8809 completed and submitted by Jan. 31 as well.

This extension is not automatic, and will usually only be granted when there is an extraordinary event causing the need for the extension. In addition, if granted, the extension does not extend the time that Form W-2 is due to be provided to employees.

Why are you telling me this?
As a reminder that the rules have changed. In the past, employers had until March 31 to submit their copies of the form. However, last year, when filing 2016 Form W-2, the IRS changed the deadline to Jan. 31.

The change was part of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act, more commonly known as the PATH Act. The IRS made this change in hope of being able to better, and more timely, detect and prevent tax refund fraud and identity theft.

Anything else I need to know?
So far we’ve only talked about the federal filing requirements. There are also state filing requirements you need to watch for. And, to make matters more complicated, the filing date may be different, based on the state you’re in.

In 2014, just five states had a Form W-2 filing deadline of Jan. 31. However, following the enactment of the new federal rules, several more states are following suit and changing their deadlines to Jan. 31.

In fact, as of October, only six states still had W-2 filing deadlines that were later than Jan. 31 (source).

So how do you figure out when your state filing deadline is? Check with your State Tax Office, or call your Eide Bailly representative.

The moral of the story …
Circle Jan. 31, 2018, on your calendar. It’s an important deadline for you as a small business owner.