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RM 01105.003 Types of Wage Report Forms

A. Introduction

Employers file their reports on:

  • Magnetic media accompanied by paper transmittal forms; or

  • Prescribed paper forms; or

  • Approved substitute paper forms.

B. Definition

“Magnetic Media” refers to 1/2” magnetic tape, 3480 type cartridges, or 3 1/2”, 5 1/4”, or 8” diskettes produced by computer systems.

C. Policy

1. General

IRS regulations require that employers filing 250 or more wage reports in a tax year must file such reports on magnetic media, accompanied by prescribed transmittal forms. IRS can waive this requirement if the employer files Form 8508, (Request for Waiver from Filing Information Returns on Magnetic Media) — or an equivalent written request — at least 45 days before the filing date for the return.

Employers who prepare fewer than 250 wage reports in a tax year and employers who have received an IRS waiver on filing magnetic media reports file prescribed paper forms. See RM 01105.035 for exhibit of Form 8508.

2. Paper forms filed with SSA

  1. Employers File Paper Reports on:

    • Form W-2 (Wage and Tax Statement); and

    • Form W-3 (Transmittal of Income and Tax Statements).

    NOTE:  Employers reporting for employees in Guam, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands file adaptations of these forms (e.g., employers in the Northern Mariana Islands use Form W-2CM.)

  2. Employers Filing Magnetic Media Reports:

    • Form 6559 (Transmitter Report of Magnetic Media Filing) and, if necessary, Continuation Sheet Form 6559A; or

    • Facsimiles of Form 6559 and 6559A.

    NOTE:  Magnetic media reporters must still provide paper Form W-2 copies to the individual employee for use in preparing his or her individual income tax return.

3. Substitute paper forms

The format requirements for paper forms are rigid to ensure efficient and accurate processing by SSA's optical scanning and microfilming machines and data entry systems. However, the employer may use substitute forms in these situations:

  1. Magnetic media reporters may provide individuals with substitute W-2 forms of different dimensions and format than prescribed forms for use in preparing their individual income tax returns.

  2. Paper form reporters may use privately printed substitute Forms W-3, and W-2 forms that are exact replicas of prescribed forms. Prescribed forms are cut sheet forms. Employers with mechanical equipment that requires the use of continuous forms will need to obtain substitute forms from private sources.

NOTE:  All substitute forms must meet other requirements as set out by IRS Publication 1141 for Forms W-2 and W-2P and in Publication 1223 for Form W-2c. These publications can be obtained from IRS by calling 1-800-829-1040.

4. Wage returns filed with IRS

Following are wage tax returns filed with IRS:

  • Form 941 (Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return). This is filed by all employers subject to income tax withholding or Social Security taxes who are not required to file one of the other forms listed below.

    NOTE:  Employers reporting for employees in American Samoa, Guam, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands file prescribed adaptations of Form 941.

  • Form 941E (Quarterly Return of Withheld Federal Income Tax). This is filed by employers who withhold income tax or Medicare taxes only but do not withhold regular Social Security taxes — most often, State and Local Government entities not covered under a Social Security agreement persuant to section 218 of the Act);

  • Form 942 (Employer's Quarterly Tax Return for Household Employees);

  • Form 943 (Employer's Annual Tax Return for Agricultural Employees);

D. References

For exhibits of wage report forms, please visit Internal Revenue Service (IRS) forms and publications for a complete listing. Many IRS and SSA forms and publications are also available from SSA’s Employer W-2 filing Instructions and Information website