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2. Invoice

OMB No.1545-0008

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3. Finish

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What is a W-2 Form?

A W-2 is the annual income filing that an employer gives to an employee so that the employee can file their prior year’s income tax return. It stands for a Wage and Tax statement that an employer needs to prepare for every single employee that they have. It has their wages, taxes paid, any other benefits that might be tax-related, as well as their tax identification number, and the company information.

This information is set up in a specific way for employees to be able to easily and quickly file their annual income tax returns.

Why would I need to have a W-2 form?

Simple. You need this as an employer as well when you let Uncle Sam at the IRS know exactly how much you withheld from your employees for taxes, as well as how much you paid out to your employees for the year. It helps develop transparency between not only yourself and your employees, but your relationship with the IRS.

Keep in mind you need to state all socially related payments as well, such as payments to the Social Security Administration and Medicare, and report them to the respective government facilities.

What is a W-2 form not?

There are a few other W forms out there such as the W-9 form and the W-8 – BEN form. These are not the same thing at all, or different variations that serve the same purpose. W-9 forms are really for freelancers who have to file a different form (called a 1099-MISC form). The 1099-MISC form is also filled out by the employer and that form is actually more related to a W2 form, but for freelancers.

The W8-Ben form is for foreign nationals working in the US and want the status to receive benefits. This is really about declaring the commitment to pay taxes versus an overview of your wages and taxes for the year.

What are the main items that go into a W-2 form?

These are pretty standard across the board. There are usually three main components that go into a stellar W2 form.

  • Everything related to your business, from its name, address, tax ID number (or EIN number)
  • Everything related to your employees, similar to the above, name, address, social security number
  • All wages through the company (not necessarily all the wages or income the employee made, only the amounts made from your company), and all the relevant deductions from taxes, retirement accounts, social security, Medicare, and other private and public tax-deductible items your company provides.

Are there any major deadlines for the W2 form?

Yes, there is a hard stop on January 31st of the following year. Of course, you can provide this anytime during the month of January, but you must be able to present it no later than the end of the month of the next year, otherwise, you’re out of compliance and could be subject to some form of penalty or compliance fee.

Of course, if that date doesn’t fall on a business day (Such as a Saturday or Sunday), you can get it to your employee the next possible business day, but no later than that, as you need to give your employee the right to review and file their taxes within a reasonable time period before the tax due date of April 15th the following year.

Keep in mind you need to file as a business this form as well on or before that date. The sooner you focus on this in the new year, the better off you’ll start that year without a headache.

How can I make a mistake and mess up creating a W-2 form?

First of all, this is like making a simple sandwich, easy to make, easy to mess up. Take your time with this, and consider who will need this and for what purpose. We’re talking about having a clear and compliant document for the Internal Revenue Services, meaning that you do not want to make a form that can seem incomplete in any way.

The first mistake you want to not make is missing the deadline to file. This can disrupt the whole process, lead to fees, lead to stress, and lead to frustrations.

Putting the wrong information, or forgetting to put certain critical information (such as tax ID numbers), can be a big one. If you put your wrong tax ID or the wrong information for your employee, this can cause such an unnecessary nightmare that could potentially lead to severe penalties.

Make sure that the whole form is completed including the retirement, social security and Medicare areas. These are different departments within the government with their own set of potential headaches.

Do I need a Lawyer for this?

In short, no. You need no one else to make this form. It all depends on how complex your business is with your employees, but these types of documents are pretty templated and straightforward with us. We made sure to have each section vetted by our own internal tax attorneys, so it will be like filling out a real W-2 for the IRS every time, whether for yourself or your employee.

Do consider an accountant to handle the actual paperwork though.