The Internal Revenue Service today reminded employers and small businesses of a new Jan. 31 filing deadline for Forms W-2. The IRS must also hold some refunds until Feb. 15.

A new federal law, aimed at making it easier for the IRS to detect and prevent refund fraud, will accelerate the W-2 filing deadline for employers to Jan. 31. For similar reasons, the new law also requires the IRS to hold refunds involving two key refundable tax credits until at least Feb. 15. Here are details on each of these key dates.

New Jan. 31 Deadline for Employers
The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, enacted last December, includes a new requirement for employers. They are now required to file their copies of Form W-2, submitted to the Social Security Administration, by Jan. 31. The new Jan. 31 filing deadline also applies to certain Forms 1099-MISC reporting non-employee compensation such as payments to independent contractors.

In the past, employers typically had until the end of February, if filing on paper, or the end of March, if filing electronically, to submit their copies of these forms. In addition, there are changes in requesting an extension to file the Form W-2. Only one 30-day extension to file Form W-2 is available and this extension is not automatic. If an extension is necessary, a Form 8809 Application for Extension of Time to File Information Returns must be completed as soon as you know an extension is necessary, but by January 31. Please carefully review the instructions for Form 8809, for more information.

“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. “We are working with the payroll community and other partners to share this information widely.”

The new accelerated deadline will help the IRS improve its efforts to spot errors on returns filed by taxpayers. Having these W-2s and 1099s earlier will make it easier for the IRS to verify the legitimacy of tax returns and properly issue refunds to taxpayers eligible to receive them. In many instances, this will enable the IRS to release tax refunds more quickly than in the past.

The Jan. 31 deadline has long applied to employers furnishing copies of these forms to their employees and that date remains unchanged.

View this post from the IRS.

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Matt Eckelberg
I joined Hawkins Ash CPAs in 1997. I began as an intern and have advanced to partner. I have thorough experience in audit and tax and provide these services to commercial entities, individuals, and profit-sharing 401(k) plans. I am a former member of the firm’s tax committee.

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