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What are W-3 Forms? FAQs and Helpful Tips for 2023
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Workforce Management

What are W-3 Forms? FAQs and Helpful Tips

As a trusted HR & payroll provider, Paycor gets hundreds of questions about tax forms, especially 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 related to Covid-19 tax credits. Additionally, this year, disaster tax relief is available to those affected by recent disasters. 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 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 2022 version for reporting 2022 taxes, even though you may be working on the form in 2023.

"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. To help, we’ve provided Form W-3 instructions in this article

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

What is a W-3 Control Number?

W2 Control Number Sample Field

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

Box B Kind of Payer, W-3 Form

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

Box b: Kind of Employer

W2 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 2 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

We’re proud to keep more than 30,000 organizations informed and compliant with federal and state laws and regulations. Since 1990, Paycor has maintained a core expertise in payroll and compliance. We established our compliance expertise in the Cincinnati tri-state area, one of the most complex tax jurisdictions in the country, which is why we’re able to handle payroll and tax complexities in a way our competitors can’t.