test 33 
What are W-3 Forms? FAQs and Helpful Tips for 2024
Skip to content

Workforce Management

What are W-3 Forms? FAQs and Helpful Tips

One-Minute Takeaway

  • W-3 forms tally up all the W-2s from your company’s workforce.
  • All companies that file W-2 forms should also file W-3 forms.
  • Employers must file W-3 forms with the Social Security Administration by January 31st each year.

As a trusted HR & payroll provider, Paycor gets hundreds of questions about tax forms, including Form W-3 each year. To help HR professionals mitigate risk, our compliance experts answered the most frequently asked questions around Form W-3.

The form usually doesn’t change much from year to year, but you’ll want to double-check for potential discrepancies. Remember, if you’re ever confused by payroll terminology, you can consult our payroll glossary.

What is a W-3 form?

Technical answer: Form W-3 is used to total up all parts of Form W-2. Both forms are filed together and sent to the Social Security Administration (SSA) every year. Form W-3 is also known as “Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements.”

What employers really need to know: As an employer, your responsibility is to review all W-2s for your workforce, summarize employee wages and tax information, and then combine that data into one W-3 form.

What’s the difference between Form W-2 and Form W-3?

Employees use the information provided by their employer on the Form W-2 to complete and file their personal income tax returns. Employers use Form W-3 to report employee income to the IRS and Social Security Administration.

Employers must file both W-2 and W-3 forms with the Social Security Administration by January 31 of every year.

Who must file Form W-3?

Any employer required to file Form W-2 must also file Form W-3. Be sure to use the correct version. For example, use the 2023 version for reporting 2023 taxes, even though you may be working on the form in 2024.

"Pro Tip: Even employers with only one household employee must file Form W-3."

When do you need to file W-3 and W-2 forms?

To remain compliant, you’ll need to mail or electronically file W-2 forms and Form W-3 with the SSA by January 31 of every year.

How to complete Form W-3?

Take a deep breath. Completing Form W-3 may not be as challenging as you think. Because this form asks for the same information as Form W-2, it’s more of a time suck than anything else.

However, since many employers still have questions about the individual sections of Form W-3, we’ve broken down everything you need to know here.

What is a W-3 Control Number?

A control number is a unique number assigned by an employer to identify individual W-2 wage a tax statements. This section is optional.

Box b: Kind of Payer

Most likely, if you’re a private business you’ll check 941 or 943. To be sure, ask your accounting department or legal team.

Box b: Kind of Employer

Unless you’re a non-profit or government entity, select “None apply”.

Boxes 1-18

Boxes 1-18, W-3 form

Enter the combined income and tax information from all the W-2s you’re including in this W-3 filing.

How to file a W-3?

W-2s and W-3s can be filed by mail or electronically. However, if you have 250 or more W-2 forms, you must electronically file both forms.

To file W-2s electronically, you’ll need to register for the Social Security Administrations business services (BSO) online.

When you complete that step, you have two options:

  • Upload wage files from your payroll or tax software.
  • You can use a fill-in W-3 form to submit up to 50 W-2 forms at a time.
"Pro Tip: If you file W-2s electronically, BSO will automatically generate a W-3 form for you."

If you decide to mail the forms, send them to the following address:

Social Security Administration
Direct Operations Center
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18769-0001

If you use “Certified Mail” to file, change the ZIP code to “18769-0002”. If you use an IRS-approved private delivery service, add “Attn: W-2 Process, 1150 E. Mountain Dr.” to the address and change the ZIP code to “18702-7997”. Go to IRS.gov/PDS for a list of IRS-approved private delivery services.

Where can you get W-3 forms?

Keep in mind, you can’t just print off a W-3 form from the IRS website and file it with the SSA. The form is printed with special red ink, so you’ll need to buy the official form from the same place you buy your W-2 forms. If you partner with an HR and payroll provider, they’ll complete the forms for you.

If you’re a Paycor customer and still have unanswered questions, please contact your payroll specialist for more support.

How Paycor Can Help

Paycor’s human capital management (HCM) platform modernizes every aspect of people management,

from recruiting, onboarding and payroll to career development and retention, but what really sets us apart is our focus on leaders. For more than 30 years we’ve been listening to and partnering with leaders, so we know what they need: a unified HR platform, easy integration with third party apps, powerful analytics, talent development software, and configurable technology that supports specific industry needs. That’s why more than 30,000 customers trust Paycor to help them solve problems and achieve their goals.