The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015 now requires employers to file their copies of Form W-2 submitted to the Social Security Administration by January 31, 2017 for wages earned in 2016. The January 31 deadline also applies to Form 1099-MISC for independent contractors where non-employee compensation is being reported in Box 7. (The deadline remains February 28 for paper filings or March 31 for electronic filings if there are no amounts reported in Box 7.) Previously, employers had until the end of February for paper filing or the end of March to electronically file copies of Form W-2’s with the Social Security Administration.
The new rules also apply to employers who will need to request an extension to file W-2 forms. Only one 30-day extension to file W-2 forms is available, and the extension is not automatic. Form 8809 Application for Extension of Time to File Information Returns should be completed as soon as the employer knows an extension is needed, but no later than January 31, 2017.
The intent of this accelerated deadline is to improve IRS efforts in identifying errors on tax returns and enable the IRS to release tax refunds to workers quicker than in the past. The new deadline is also an effort to combat fraud, as the IRS hopes it will be easier to verify the legitimacy of tax returns.