How to Generate Form W-2 for Your Employees

It’s tax season - otherwise known as W-2 season for employees eagerly awaiting their tax returns. This time of year is one that your employees look forward to; the chance to reclaim some of their income and possibly pay off some debt, or better yet, book that vacation they’ve been dreaming of. However, tax season for employers tends to be less than exciting and more of a burden (at least it can be). If you’re running your payroll in-house you are responsible for generating your employee’s W-2s and making sure they are received or at least postmarked no later than January 31st. If you are currently processing your payroll with a software provider your job will be much easier. Let’s assume you are processing in-house though, where would you begin when you’re looking to complete W-2s? 

Make a List

Really the first thing you need to figure out is who gets a W-2? Each individual who was employed by your business during the previous tax year. It is important to make sure you provide all employees, current and past, with their W-2, no matter how brief their employment may have been. They will need this information in order to prepare their personal tax return. Once you have a complete list you can begin the W-2 process.

Utilize Your Resources

Being a Millennial, the first thing I did when starting this post was google “How do I fill out a W-2?”. Many great resources filled my search results, including the IRS website which offers a W-2 template. If you’re using a template, but still not sure what boxes need to be completed, fear not, there are resources for that, too. I personally enjoyed an interactive infographic from Intuit that clearly states what each box is for and if it is mandatory to complete that specific box. You can access that here

Common Errors to Avoid

There are certain errors that can delay processing and should be avoided. 

Things such as:

  • Using ink that is too light to read
  • Adding dollar signs to boxes that require money calculations
  • Omitting the decimal points to signify cents. 

These are only a few of the common errors that should be avoided. For a more complete list click here.

Be Mindful of Deadlines

It is crucial to get W-2s to your employees no later than January 31st. This includes having W-2s postmarked by January 31st as well. If you don’t have enough time to prepare your forms and meet the January 31 deadline you are required to inform the IRS of such circumstances. This letter must include information such as how to contact you, your employer identification number, and the name and signature of the person authorized to make the request. This correspondence will also need the reason why your forms will be delayed, and a formal request for extension. Please note if your company will require an extension for more than 10 forms you will need to submit your request electronically. 

Check Your Work

Once you’ve successfully filled in all necessary employee information you will want to check - and double check - your information. Items such as employee social security number, correct spelling of names, and even your employer identification number are things you will want to look over. If there is a mistake and your employee files the incorrect W-2 form, you will have to later correct this mistake with the IRS. It’s always better to make sure you have accurate information the first time around. 

I hope this gives you a better idea of how to generate your company’s W-2s. If you’re interested in simplifying the W-2 process contact us today.