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Form W-2

Specifications for substitute 2019 Forms W-2/W-3 updated

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting  

· 5 minute read

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting  

· 5 minute read

Rev Proc 2019-28, 2019-32 IRB 596

The IRS has updated the revenue procedure that provides the specifications for the private printing of substitutes for the 2019 Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, and Form W-3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements.

Background.  Generally, an employer must file a Form W-2 if the employer had at least one employee to whom the employer made payments, including noncash payments, of $600 or more for the employee’s services in the employer’s trade or business. (General Instructions 2019 Forms W-2/W-3) Code Sec. 3402 requires an employer to withhold income, social security, and Medicare tax from an employee’s wages.

Form W-2 is used to report (among other things) any income, social security, or Medicare tax withheld from the employee’s wages to the IRS and Social Security Administration (SSA). Form W-3 is a transmittal form. Anyone required to file a Form W-2 must use Form W-3 to transmit copies of Form W-2 to the SSA. (General Instructions 2019 Forms W-2/W-3)

Employers can obtain official copies of Form W-2 and Form W-3 from the IRS by mail.  Employers can also use substitute forms that are approved by the IRS and SSA. Substitute forms are forms that are not printed by the IRS but conform to the specifications set out in the appropriate revenue procedure. (General Instructions 2019 Forms W-2/W-3)

2019 substitute form specifications. The new procedure explains the requirements for the format and content of substitute Forms W-2 and W-3. Substitute forms must conform to the specifications in the new procedure or they will be rejected by the IRS and SSA.

For 2019 Box 9 on Form W-2 is no longer in use. Box 9 was used to input a verification code for the IRS’s anti-identity theft and refund fraud pilot program. The code was used to verify Form W-2 data submitted by taxpayers on e-filed individual income tax returns.

Rev Proc 2018-37, 2018-29 IRB 210, the previous revenue procedure on this subject, is superseded.

Checkmark Caution. Form W-2 and W-3 filers should not print copies of these forms from the internet and file them with the SSA because they will be rejected. The SSA only accepts e-filed and official (or approved substitute) paper versions of Forms W-2 and W-3.

For more information about e-filing Forms W-2, see

References.  For the requirements for production of acceptable substitute tax forms, see FTC2d/FIN ¶S-1205United States Tax Reporter ¶35,014.

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