In October 2016, the IRS issued a reminder to employers and small-business owners of a new January 31 deadline for submitting Forms W-2 and certain Forms 1099-MISC to the Social Security Administration (SSA). The accelerated deadline, which was enacted as part of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act passed in late 2015, is designed to help the IRS spot refund fraud and issue refunds more quickly.
The filing deadline covers employer copies of Forms W-2 and Forms 1099-MISC that report nonemployee compensation, such as payments to independent contractors. Employers previously had until the end of February (if filing by paper) or March (if filing electronically) to submit their forms to the SSA.
"As tax season approaches, the IRS wants to be sure employers, especially smaller businesses, are aware of these new deadlines," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a news release. "We are working with the payroll community and other partners to share this information widely."
According to the IRS, receiving the forms earlier will make it easier for the IRS to verify the legitimacy of individual tax returns and properly issue refunds to taxpayers eligible to receive them, allowing the IRS to potentially issue many tax refunds more quickly than in the past.
In addition to the new filing deadline, employers should also be aware of changes affecting extension requests for filing Forms W-2. The IRS will not automatically grant extensions, and when it does, only one 30-day extension will be permitted.
To request an extension, employers must file Form 8809, "Application for Extension of Time to File Information Returns," as soon as they are aware that an extension is needed, but no later than January 31.
The January 31 deadline for providing copies of these forms to employees and contractors has not changed.
For more information, review the IRS publication, General Instructions for Forms W-2 and W-3.