In Pursuit of Profit
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The accelerated filing date of January 31 for Forms W-2 and W-3 matches the due date for providing wage statements to employees and written statements to payees receiving nonemployee compensation.
The due date for filing Forms W-2 & W-3 and Forms 1099- MISC (with box 7 nonemployee compensation) & 1096 with the SSA and IRS is now January 31st, whether you file using paper forms or electronically.
Extensions of time to file Form W2 with the SSA are no longer automatic. For filings due on or after January 1, you may request one 30-day extension to file Form W-2 by submitting a complete application on Form 8809, Application for Extension of Time to File Information Returns, including a detailed explanation of why you need additional time, signed under penalties of perjury.
In other words, the deadline for providing the forms to the employees and independent contractors and filing the forms with the government are now the same, January 31st. The filing due date for other Forms 1099 & 1096 remains February 28th if filing by paper, and March 31st if filed electronically.
The new January 31st deadline only applies to Form 1099- MISC with an amount in box 7, Nonemployee Compensation Penalties for failure to file correct information returns or furnish correct payee statements have increased and are now subject to inflationary adjustments. These increased penalties are effective for information returns required to be filed after December 31, 2015.
The IRS uses third-party information returns to increase voluntary compliance, verify accuracy of tax returns, improve collection of taxes, and combat fraud, including fraudulent refund claims filed by unscrupulous preparers and individuals using the stolen identities of legitimate taxpayers.
In March 2016, the IRS issued an alert concerning a new type of phishing email attack which attempts to lure human resources, accounting, or payroll staff into disclosing the W-2 information of all employees within a company, presumably intended for use in tax-related identity theft, which the IRS defines as "...when someone uses your stolen Social Security number to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund." This may give a cybercriminal enough information to fraudulently file a tax return on the victim's behalf and direct the tax refund to the cybercriminal's bank account.
This phishing scheme is particularly characterized by its use of spear-phishing (emails sent to specific individuals) and email spoofing to pose as a company executive requesting the W-2 information, thereby increasing the urgency of the response and catching payroll staff off-guard:
Get general instructions for Forms W-2 and W-3 from the IRS here >