New Law Sets January 31 Filing Deadline for W-2s and 1099s

A new federal law moves up the W-2 filing deadline for employers and small businesses to January 31. It also makes it easier for the IRS to find and stop refund fraud and delays some taxpayer refunds.

Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act. Enacted last December, the new law means employers need to file their copies of Forms W-2 by January  31. These forms also go to the Social Security Administration. The new deadline also applies to certain Forms 1099. Those reporting nonemployee compensation such as payments to independent contractors submitted to the IRS are due January 31. Employers have long faced a January 31 deadline in providing copies of these forms to their employees. That date won’t change.
  • Different from past deadline. Employers normally had until the end of February, if filing on paper, or the end of March, if filing electronically, to send in copies of these forms.
  • Helps stop fraud or errors. The new January 31 deadline will help the IRS spot errors on returns filed by taxpayers. Having these W-2s and 1099s sooner will make it easier for the IRS to verify legitimate tax returns and get refunds to taxpayers eligible to receive them. Taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Beginning in 2017, taxpayers may need their Adjusted Gross Income amount from a prior tax return to verify their identity.
  • Some refunds delayed. Certain taxpayers will get their refunds later. By law, the IRS must hold refunds for any tax return claiming either the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until February 15. This means the whole refund, not just the part related to the EITC or ACTC.
  • File tax returns normally. Taxpayers should file their returns as they normally do. Whether or not claiming EITC or ACTC, the IRS cautions taxpayers not to count on getting a refund by a certain date. Consider this fact when making major purchases or paying debts.
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