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10 Things I Hate About W-2s

10 Things I Hate About W-2s

In the spirit of wrapping up year-end payroll processing, let's take a look at 10 things we hate about W-2s. We're sure you can identify with some of these.

It’s the second week of February and you’ve finally dropped the last employee W-2 in the mail, breathing a measured sigh of relief. But following on the heels of that year-end weight being lifted off your shoulders is the pitter patter of W-2 corrections and reprint requests.

Receding Hairline
We feel ya, and in the spirit of classic Shakespeare with a modern twist, we present 10 Things I Hate About W-2s.

1. I Hate The Way You Have to be Filed

This is probably pretty obvious, but one of the biggest tasks employers have to tackle with year-end processing is filing W-2s with the IRS. This can be a major pain when you are manually slogging through the process of filling and printing them out. Now imagine e-filing your W-2s with the IRS in a few clicks? Working with a provider that has expertise in tax compliance and a cloud-based payroll solution can simplify this headache of a task.

2. And The Way You Have to be Reconciled 

Although we’re not paying homage to the Form W-3 in this article, it is worth mentioning. Sometimes errors can pop up when you reconcile your W-3 with your quarterly 941 returns.

Stab the Frog
We all know what that means: you have to file amended returns. This can be a very burdensome task, but not with a cloud-based payroll solution. W-2 errors become a thing of the past because the system’s error-checking algorithm allows you to correct those errors before you file at all. Time saved is money saved.

3. I Hate Your Big Dumb Reprints

If one of your employees doesn’t receive their W-2, what is your reprint process? Are you able to reprint on demand and if so, do you have to pay for W-2 reprints? It’s enough to make anyone question their reprint process altogether. Many cloud-based payroll solutions offer an employee self-service portal that allows employees to print copies as needed without additional charges. Talk about a game changer!

4. And The Way You Can’t Read My Mind

If your W-2 could read your mind, it would fill itself out, distribute itself to employees, and file itself with the IRS. While artificial intelligence in paper products is probably still in the distant future, automating your W-2 process is the next best thing.

Blind Hatred
A payroll provider with a unified, cloud-based solution will help you through the process with error checking, automatic generation of Form W-2s, online distribution, and e-filing with the IRS. Swoon!

5. I Hate The Way You’re Not Always Right

Mistakes happen, we’re only human. But W-2 corrections aren’t your garden variety mistake…they can come with fines. And those fines can add up for things like incorrect addresses and names not matching between the W-2 and an employee’s social security cards. Remember that W-2 error-checking algorithm we mentioned earlier? Yeah, this is also a time when that tool comes in handy. And catching mistakes before they’re filed means money saved for your organization.

6. I Hate It When You Lie 

We’ve all had this one happen before: the last pay stubs of the year are issued and W-2s have made it into the eager hands of your employees. But wait a second…some of your employees are noticing a difference between the earnings on their last pay stub and the reported earnings on their W-2s. the amount on my pay stub is different than what’s on my W-2? Provide your employees with a handout that gives them the answer before they even ask the question. You’ll look like a hero and you can then spend time on more strategic tasks.

7. I Hate It When You Make Me Mad, Even Worse When You Make Me Cry

W-2 processing (and year-end processing in general) is a long, tedious process. It makes us mad, it makes us cry, sometimes it makes us polish off a bottle of wine. Which brings us to the age-old question: Should I manage W-2 processing in house or use a payroll provider? It helps to look at the costs (both time and money) associated with W-2 processing:

In-House Processing

Outsourcing with a Payroll Provider

Cost for purchasing and printing
official W-2 forms
Base processing fee for reconciliation and agency filing
Cost to print W-2 forms Per-item fee for printing and distribution
Postage for employee distribution Postage included in per-item fee
More time spent on W-2 processing Less time spent on W-2 processing
Higher potential for errors Lower potential for errors

Sometimes an efficient, accurate process is worth additional charges that may come with using a payroll provider. And sometimes, the inconvenience of a process makes the cost savings irrelevant.

How would you rate your process? Download our W-2 Processing Worksheet and use it to evaluate your actual and hidden costs.

8. I Hate The Way You’re Always Around

It’s just one of those things you can’t get around. Employers must keep Copy D of Form W-2 on record for four years. If you’re keeping paper copies, that’s a lot of storage space.

Not to mention, paper records are easy to lose, especially if you haven’t gotten around to filing them away and they’ve created a mountain in the corner of your office. Partnering with a payroll provider who offers online document management will ensure sensitive company and employee information is safe. Then you have easy access to your employee records while maintaining compliance.

9. And The Fact That You Make Me Feel Small

W-2 processing can feel so overwhelming, it can make the best of us feel inadequate. It’s not that you’re incapable, it’s just a lot for anyone to manage. Here’s another way employee self-service websites come in handy. Your payroll provider can help you make sure that active and terminated employees have access to their W-2s. This makes for a more secure and reliable distribution process. Just imagine what that means — no more postage processing costs, and no more delivery confirmation concerns. Stop being overwhelmed by a process where you are managing every little detail, and let the employees manage the finer points of their W-2s.

And coming in at number 10…

But Mostly I Hate The Way I Don’t Hate You…Not Even Close,
Not Even a Little Bit, Not Even At All

W-2 processing may not have gone as smoothly as you would have liked, but it doesn’t have to be a hate-hate relationship…you can learn to actually love it. Well, maybe not LOVE it, but you could grow to like it with the right payroll and tax compliance partner.

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