It’s that time of year again! And no I’m not referring to Christmas, Kwanzaa, or Hanukkah. Many are gearing up for the upcoming tax season. Before you can get your W-2, below are some tips that could help you mitigate potential delays in receiving your document.
Correct Address Companies that don’t have an electronic or automated system that has an employee self service option to distribute W-2s must print and mail them to their employees. Believe it or not, some companies mail hard copies even if employees have access to their W-2 via self-service. For this reason, it is very important that your HR department has your correct mailing address on file. Now is the time to review your information and make updates as per protocol for your company. Please do not call in mid to late January to update your address because it is usually too late by then. Contact HR now to change your address. Most companies also honor address change requests if you are a former employee so if you expect to receive a W-2 from your old company, it will be a good idea to contact them to find out if your address is correct in their system as well.
Post Office This may be common sense for many of you, but you will be surprised by the number of people who have asked me to give them a date of when they will get their W-2 in the mail. No company other than the post office controls mail distribution schedules. No HR department can tell you with 100% accuracy that your W-2 will arrive on “X” date. Once we’ve mailed it, we cannot give you an ETA (estimate time of arrival). Other companies are mailing their employees’ documents too so it’s a busy time for the post office so there could be delays in receiving your W-2. And if you failed to update your address timely with your HR department, be sure to complete a change of address form at your local post office, otherwise your form can be mailed to your old address or rerouted back to the company which will cause additional delays.
Be Patient Please do not call your HR department on January 2nd asking if your W-2 is ready or when will it be ready. Remember, it is still business as usual during W-2 processing: payroll processing, new hire orientation, and daily routine stuff. By law, W-2s must be issued no later than January 31st. Most companies send out communication to let you know when W-2s are ready so please be patient. Continuous calls and emails only slow down the processing and distribution.
Tax Reform Pay close attention to what is going in Washington, DC. In the wee hours of this past Saturday morning, a bill was passed to reform taxes that could have a negative impact on you. By no means am I a tax expert, but I could refer you to some good ones – check out Akiesha Johnson, CPA at http://www.awjaccounting.com. She would be more than happy to get into all of the details about taxes. From my experience, I also recommend going to a CPA to get your taxes done because they know all the latest laws that could get you the biggest return and keep you out of financial trouble. My refunds have been bigger when a started using a CPA versus using a tax software or going to a tax prep company.
Review W-4 Form Lastly, if you find that you owe money, please review your allowances on the W4 form and complete a new form to make any adjustments. I recommend reviewing your W-4 every year regardless if you owe or not just to make sure your information is accurate. If you find that you owe money, you have the option to contribute an additional flat amount each pay period – it could be as little as $5.00 – if you want to be certain you’re paying the appropriate amount of taxes to mitigate the amount of taxes you will owe the following year.
I’ve also seen employees switch their W-4 to “exempt” from taxes just before they expect to get a large paycheck either from a bonus or overtime, and forget to change it back, and then they call and cuss us out when they got to rapid refund because they owe taxes. Once again, we are not tax professionals nor do we know your personal situation so please miss me with the vulgarity and anger when you owe at the end of the year because you tried to increase your take home pay by exempting yourself from taxes. Speak with a tax professional to find the right balance for your personal situation.