W-2 Distribution

As an employer or payroll professional, you’ll need to be in tune with all the current regulations on distribution of your employees’ W-2 Forms.  Can you e-mail W-2 Forms? Can you require employees to download their W-2’s from a secure site?

The answer to both questions above: No.  You may set up a secure site from which employees can download their W-2 Forms, but they must opt in to that method of delivery.

W-2 Forms may not be e-mailed due to the insecure nature of employee privacy via e-mail.  You may mail all W-2 Forms via postal mail as long as they are mailed on or before the deadline.  Since January 31 falls on a Sunday, the deadline is February 1, 2016.

If you’d like to become a “green” employer, have your IT and HCM Teams review procedures for eliminating paper forms and encouraging non-paper methods of payment. Our future posts will include more about green payments.

See the excerpt below from Publication 15-A regarding paperless W-2 Form distribution.

Furnishing Form W-2 to employees electronically. You may set up a system to furnish Form W-2 electronically. Each employee participating must consent (either electronically or by paper document) to receive his or her Form W-2 electronically, and you must notify the employee of all hardware and software requirements to receive the form. You may not send a Form W-2 electronically to any employee who doesn’t consent or who has revoked consent previously provided.To furnish Forms W-2 electronically, you must meet the following disclosure requirements and provide a clear and conspicuous statement of each requirement to your employees.

  • The employee must be informed that he or she will receive a paper Form W-2 if consent isn’t given to receive it electronically.
  • The employee must be informed of the scope and duration of the consent.
  • The employee must be informed of any procedure for obtaining a paper copy of his or her Form W-2 and whether or not the request for a paper statement is treated as a withdrawal of his or her consent to receiving his or her Form W-2 electronically.
  • The employee must be notified about how to withdraw a consent and the effective date and manner by which the employer will confirm the withdrawn consent. The employee must also be notified that the withdrawn consent doesn’t apply to the previously issued Forms W-2.
  • The employee must be informed about any conditions under which electronic Forms W-2 will no longer be furnished (for example, termination of employment).
  • The employee must be informed of any procedures for updating his or her contact information that enables the employer to provide electronic Forms W-2.
  • The employer must notify the employee of any changes to the employer’s contact information.

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