The Social Security Administration recently released an update regarding filing deadlines for certain federal reporting forms. This change will affect employers across the country, as the majority of states also plan to adopt this date for their annual filing deadline. While some states are still in the process of transitioning to this new date, others have already made the switch, including Alaska, Connecticut, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wisconsin, among others. PTM has a closer look at this ruling:
The old way
Previously, the Social Security Administration had three distinct deadlines companies had to follow when it came to completing and submitting their W2 forms to the federal government. They were as follows:
- January 31: Businesses must distribute W2 forms to employees.
- February 31: Businesses must file paper W2 forms.
- March 31: Businesses must file W2 forms electronically.
Similar to sending in forms 1094 and 1095 under the Affordable Care Act to the IRS, organizations had an extended timeline to submit the paperwork if they did so electronically. That’s no longer the case.
The new ruling
The Social Security Administration’s updated deadline relates to W2 and W3 forms for 2016. The new due date for this documentation is January 31, 2017, regardless of whether it’s submitted via paper or electronic services.
Employers also used to be able to receive automatic time extensions to file these forms. Moving forward, companies may request one 30-day extension to file W2 forms by completing Form 8809 – or Application of Extension of Time to File Information Returns. This documentation must include a detailed explanation for the extension along with a signature. By signing, businesses accept the penalties of perjury if their extension is discovered to be false.
In addition to understanding the altered filing deadline, companies should also be aware of some of the reasons the Social Security Administration could reject their W2 forms. The SSA outlines the causes of refusal as follows:
- Medicare tax is greater than zero; Medicare wage tips are equal to zero.
- Medicare wages and tips are less than the sum of social security wages and tips.
- Social security tax is greater than zero; social security wages and tips are equal to zero.
This change has come as a serious surprise to a number of organizations across the country. Many companies have become used to the potential extension that was previously allowed, which gave businesses additional breathing room in the busy month of January.
With the alteration of the deadline to the end of January, employers may feel even more strapped for time when it comes to completing and submitting important government documentation.
“Employers must be proactive to ensure their W2 forms are submitted on time.”
Next steps for companies
With this new deadline, it’s crucial for businesses to be as prepared as possible in the months leading up to the due date. This means organizations will have to partake in advanced planning to ensure all documentation is submitted accurately and on time.
Employers should make their workers aware of the earlier deadline, so everyone is on the same page. Since W2 forms rely on information from both businesses and employees, failing to take this step could result in major delays. Distributing the paperwork early can help businesses collect the forms and file them by the deadline.
Human resources and payroll teams will need to work hand in hand to avoid requesting an extension from the SSA. Proactive measures will help company leaders guarantee all of their responsibilities are completed in a timely fashion.
Sometimes, completing these tasks on their own is difficult and overwhelming for businesses. In these cases, many organizations choose to work with a payroll tax partner. PTM is a knowledgeable payroll service provider that can ensure employers meet all local, state and federal guidelines and deadlines.