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W-2 Forms: How To Reissue, Correct, or Handle Returned Forms

The first quarter of the year is all about filing personal tax returns, which means employees are anxious to receive their W-2 forms from their employers. Employers are required to provide a W-2 by January 31st to each employee paid in the previous calendar year. The most common issues employers will face after handing out W-2 forms are lost or not received forms, incorrect information on W-2s , and forms returned in the mail.

If an employee did not receive or lost their W-2, employers can provide a photocopy of the employer's copy. Employers should write "Reissued Statement" at the top of the form, so the IRS is aware the original form may have been intercepted by a third party and could be used to file a fraudulent return.

If the employee or employer discovers the employee's name, social security number, wages, or taxes withheld is incorrect and the W-2 has already been filed with the Social Security Administration, a Form W-2c must be issued to revise the incorrect information. Form W-2c reports changes only, so employees must submit both the original W-2 and W-2c with their personal tax returns. If the only error is the employee's address, no corrected form is needed.

Employers who receive a W-2 back as undeliverable due to an incorrect mailing address, should start by reaching out to the employee to obtain a corrected address. If contact information for the employee is not available, or attempts to contact the employee have failed, the employer should keep the unopened envelope in the employee's file. In the event of a Labor Department audit, the unopened envelope with a postmark will serve as proof of reasonable attempt to provide the W-2 by the January 31st deadline.

Employers can avoid mailing issues by offering online copies of W-2 forms. Most payroll services offer employee online portals at no additional charge. These portals serve as a place employees can view their personal information, such as address and pay rate, and obtain copies of pay stubs and W-2 forms.

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