How to Generate a W-2 Online

How to Generate a W-2 Online
••• tax time image by Gale Distler from

A W-2 form is also known as a Wage and Tax Statement. It's a form that employers are required to give to their employees before Jan. 31 annually. Employers are also mandated to file the form with the Social Security Administration by end of February. The W-2 is filed with the individual’s tax returns. Otherwise, it’s invalid.

For employers, W-2 forms are used to indicate how much employers are paying their employees and how much they withhold.

When Do You Need the W-2 Form?

Your former and current employers are required to send you a W-2 for the previous year ​no later than Jan. 31​.

What's the W-2 Form Deadline?

Employers are required to send out the forms and return them by the end of January each year. Forms W-2 and W-3 should be filed and returned together with the Social Security Administration (SSA) by Jan. 31.

Employers who delay in returning the forms are liable to penalties based on the size of the company and how many days the submission is late. If Jan. 31 falls on a weekend or a public holiday, the deadline is pushed to the next business day.

What Goes on a W-2 Form?

A W-2 form contains basic information about the employer and the employee. It contains the following information:

  • Total wages and other compensation 
  • The business name, address and state tax I.D of the employer
  • Employee names, address and Social Security number

Common W-2 Mistakes to Avoid

It's important to be careful when filling the form because mistakes can result in the employer facing penalties that could have been avoided. Here are the most common mistakes you should avoid on a W-2 form:

  • Using a form from a previous year
  • Incorrect employee names and Social Security numbers
  • Using titles and abbreviations in name fields
  • Missing the filing deadlines
  • Failure to use black ink
  • Missing EIN
  • Failure to complete the retirement or Medicare wage block

Use the following steps to generate your W-2 form online

1. Make a Request Online

You can do this by simply going to the IRS website, scroll to the "Tools" section, then click on "Get transcript of your tax records." The online version will allow you to print your form while the mail option will request your information via email.

To ensure there are no validation errors, use the same information you used on the original tax form. If you have validation problems, you may use a different method to access the information.

After you’ve successfully validated the information, you’ll see different transcripts. Make sure you choose the correct year.

2. A Telephone Request

This is done by calling the IRS directly on ​1-800-908-9946​, following the prompts and choosing the IRS Tax Return Transcript option.

  • You’ll receive a prompt to enter your Social Security number as well as verify the information.
  • You’ll be required to enter the number on the address on the original tax forms excluding the zip code.
  • You’ll be asked to choose a return transcript or account transcript.

If the request is successful, you can expect to receive your IRS Tax Return Transcript at the indicated address ​within five to 10 days​ after the IRS receives the request.

3. Mail Request

Also called a Request for Transcript of Tax Return form, which is downloadable, a Request for Transcript of Tax Return is used by taxpayers to request a copy or copies of previously filed tax returns and tax information from the IRS.

To use this service you’ll require the following information:

  • SSN or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)
  • Date of birth
  • Mailing address that corresponds with your latest tax return

If your application is successful, you’ll receive a return or account transcript types via mail. You should expect the files within ​five to 10 days​ after your information has been successfully verified.