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To employees, Jan. 31 may seem miles away, but HR professionals know this date is just around the corner. The Internal Revenue Service has issued a reminder to employers that a new federal law states that the annual deadline for filing copies of employees’ Form W-2 has been moved up to Jan. 31 in order to better detect and prevent fraud.

Under the new deadline, employers also have guidelines on how they must submit the forms:

  • Employers filing fewer than 250 forms can file either by mail or electronically.
  • Employers filing 250 or more forms must file electronically.

This new deadline must be met regardless of the number of employees a company is filing for or the method of filing. In previous years, employers had until the end of March to submit copies if filing electronically. The deadline for giving copies of Form W-2 to employees, however, remains Jan. 31. This new deadline also applies to some Forms 1099-MISC and payments to independent contractors.

When it comes to extensions, only a 30-day extension is available for filing Form W-2, and this isn’t an automatic extension. Employers must complete the extension by Jan. 31 at the latest.

How should you prepare?

There are two simple ways to prepare for this earlier deadline that can be done now.

  • Verify your employees’ filing status and mailing addresses.
  • Verify the Form W-9 information for 1099-MISC contractors is accurate.

By verifying information and coordinating responsibilities with your payroll team before the year is over, you will be well-prepared to meet this new deadline. For more information on deadlines and forms, consult the IRS website.