Finance News & Insights

Feds offer guidance on handling W-2 errors … after you’ve filed them!

So your Payroll team got those W-2s filed by the Jan. 31 deadline — and then a staffer found an error. Or two.

Fear not: The Social Security Administration (SSA) just issued guidance to help you correct those mistakes electronically after they’ve been filed.

Of course, there are any number of ways errors can creep in to your filing. Your people are only human; mistakes happen. And the SSA has you covered, from the most simplistic to the more complex.

Take a look at how the feds want you to make things right.

The most basic blunders

If your team made one of these more minor mistakes, here’s how to handle it:

The error: You missed one (or more) W-2s when you filed via Business Services Online (BSO).

The fix: Submit the missing returns through the W-2 online system. SSA will automatically include it with the file your company already sent.

The error: You discovered an error with an employee’s name or Social Security number.

The fix: E-file a W-2c to correct the info online.

When things get more complicated

Sometimes, though, things aren’t so straightforward.

The error: Earnings were reported using the wrong Employer Identification Number (EIN).

The fix: Here you’ll have to submit multiple e-files so the correct info will show up in the SSA’s system.

The error:  There are issues with codes in Box 12A.

The fix: Sorry, your team can’t fix this one through BSO at all. Instead your company will have to correct them via pen and ink on the employee’s copy of the W-2.

Other places to check

These are just some of the areas mistakes can creep in. IRS offers up a Not-To-Do List while filing W-2s right on the forms’ 2019 instructions.

It’s worth scanning this list with Payroll to make sure you did not do any of these, whether you filed on paper or via the online system:

  • Download Copy A of Forms W-2, W-2AS, W-2GU, W-2VI, W-3SS, or Form W-3 from and file with SSA.
  • Omit the decimal point and cents from entries.
  • Make entries using ink that is too light. Use only black ink.
  • Make entries that are too small or too large. Use 12-point Courier font, if possible.
  • Add dollar signs to the money-amount boxes. They have been removed from Copy A and are not required.
  • Inappropriately check the “Retirement plan” checkbox in box 13.
  • Misformat the employee’s name in box e. Enter the employee’s first name and middle initial in the first box, his or her surname in the second box, and his or her suffix (such as “Jr.”) in the third box (optional).
  • Enter the incorrect EIN or the employee’s SSN for the EIN.
  • Cut, fold, or staple Copy A paper forms mailed to SSA.
  • Mail any other copy other than Copy A of Form W-2 to the SSA.

And if you do find errors, make sure to review during your year-end post-mortem so they don’t repeat next go-around.


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