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Confusion over 1099/W-2 Due Dates

Posted by taxguru on January 25, 2016

For as long as I can remember, there have been two different deadlines for information returns, such as 1099s and W-2s.  For decades, I have been writing about the importance of these different dates.  This year, I have seen more misinformation going around about this issue than any time I can recall.

1.  First is the date that they should be given to the payees or employees.  That has always been the end of January.  Because that is on a Sunday this year, the deadline is February 1 for reporting 2015 payments.  A little known fact is that this is really a courtesy for the payees and there is no official late penalty from IRS or anyone else for not providing the 1099s or W-2s by January 31. 

Likewise, any workers who claim they can’t do their tax returns until they receive their 1099s are full of beans.  1099s are not required to be attached to tax returns and all small business owners should have their own records of how much money they received.  1099s are just a second level income reporting mechanism that is required to keep taxpayers “honest” in the eyes of of our overlords at the IRS. 

2.  Next is the date that the W-2s and 1099s are to be filed or submitted to the Federal and State governmental tax agencies.  There has always been an extra month for this to be done, meaning February 28 or 29.  Practically every year, I have written about how it’s a wise move not to send in the governmental copies in too soon in order to give the employees and payees time to catch any mistakes in the figures on the forms.  Filing Corrected forms with IRS and SSA creates a lot of problems for everyone down the road, so making sure that the original forms are accurate is critical.  Filing with the government agencies late can incur some penalties.

Over the past few weeks, I have seen a lot of supposed tax authorities claim that the 1099s and W-2s are to be filed with the government by the end of January.  I took a live online CPE class a few weeks ago, where the instructor and his PowerPoint slides were claiming that all 1099s and W-2s were due to IRS by Feb 1.  I just received an email this morning from a software vendor that made that same claim.

Knowing that there is a lot of confusion all over the place with the constantly changing reporting requirements related to ObamaCare, I wondered if the deadlines for 1099s and W-2s had been moved up a month.  What I found when I checked with IRS and SSA websites and the official instructions for their forms was that the deadlines have not changed since prior years.  All of these “authorities” who are trying to scare people about an upcoming deadline a week from today are wrong.  The CPE instructor who claimed that W-2s are to be filed with IRS was also wrong about that fact.  They are still to be submitted to the Social Security Administration (SSA), just as they always have.

TaxCoach Software: Are you giving your clients what they really want?

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