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An HR Glossary for HR Terms

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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Form W-3

What Is Form W-3? 

Form W-3 is a tax form used by employers to report combined employee income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Social Security Administration. Employers who send out more than one Form W-2 to employees must complete and send this form to summarize their total salary payment and withholding amounts. Employers who send out a single Form W-2 do not need a separate form to tally the total amounts, as they’re displayed on their single employee’s Form W-2. 

Who Needs to File Form W-3?

Every employer required to file a Form W-2 must file Form W-3. This translates to most employers in the U.S., as Form W-2 is required after paying an employee more than $600 in wages in a given year, whether or not the employer withholds income or taxes from an employee’s wages.  

Why Does the IRS Require Employers to File Form W-3?

Form W-3 provides a benchmark for the IRS to compare figures from individual employees’ W-2 forms with the official totals reported by their employer. 

What Information Needs to Be Included in Form W-3?

  • Your business details, including employer identification number (EIN), legal address, and other contact information

  • Total wages (salary, tips, commission, and other compensation) paid to employees over the prior year

  • Total taxable wages for Social Security and Medicare

  • Total federal and state income tax withheld

  • Total Social Security tax withheld

  • Total Medicare tax withheld

When Do Employers Submit Form W-3?

Employers are required to submit Form W-3 by January 31 each year—a shared deadline with mailing employees their copies of their Form W-2. 

How Do Employers Submit Form W-3?

The preferred method is to submit wage files from your payroll software through the Business Services Online (or BSO) portal. The IRS and the Social Security Administration are phasing out their paper copy method with stricter regulations on who is eligible to file by mail. 

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