How to Print W2 Forms in QuickBooks

January 08, 2020

How to Print W2 Forms in QuickBooks

In this guide, we’ll show you how to print W2 forms in QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop.

Thankfully, printing the forms themselves is easy enough. The tricky part is selecting paper that’s compatible with your QuickBooks setup and complying with IRS printing requirements.

To help you get this process right, we’ve listed detailed W2 printing instructions below. We’ve also included a W2 Printing FAQ with quick answers to common questions at the bottom of this guide, just in case you get stuck along the way.

Quick Links

 


  

How to print W2 Forms in QuickBooks Online

 

Printing Requirements

To print your W2s in QuickBooks Online, you’ll need to:

Please note, QuickBooks Online is not compatible with:

     

    step 1

    Step 1: Set your Form Printing preferences 

    Before printing your W2s, you need to tell QuickBooks which type of paper you’re printing on. You can do this in your company payroll preferences by following these steps:

    • Select TaxesPayroll Settings
    • Go to Preferences and click Form Printing
    • Select perforated then click OK

       

      step 2 icon

      Step 2: View and print your W2s 

      • Select TaxesPayroll Tax
      • In the Formssection, click Annual Forms
      • Select All Employeesor choose a specific employee name in the dropdown menu
      • Select W2, Copies B, C 2 link
        • This will take you to the Printable Employee Copies: Form W2page
      • Select the correct period from the dropdown menu
      • Select Viewand your W2s will open in your computer’s PDF reader in a new window

      You can now print your W2s from your computer’s PDF reader (usually Adobe Reader) by selecting FilePrint and following the prompts.

       


        

      How to print W2 Forms in QuickBooks Desktop

       

      Printing Requirements

      To print W2s in QuickBooks Desktop, you’ll need to use black ink (this is an IRS requirement) and print onto paper that’s compatible with your QuickBooks Payroll version. 

      If you’re using Standard Payroll or Enhanced Payroll, you can use either:

      If you’re using Assisted Payroll, you’ll need to print your W2s onto 4-up horizontal blank perforated paper W2s.

      Please note, QuickBooks Desktop is not compatible with the free PDF W2 forms from the IRS website.

        Wstep 1

        Step 1: Find and open your W2 and W3 forms in QuickBooks Desktop 

        • In the top menu, select EmployeesPayroll TaxForms and W2sProcess Payroll Forms
        • In the File Forms tab, you’ll see a list of forms. Choose Annual Form W2/W3- Wage and Tax Statement Transmittal and click the Create Form If you can’t find the forms in the list, it’s likely due to one of the following reasons:
          • The form may be below the previewed list. Scroll down and look for the form.
          • The form may be inactive. To activate your W2 form, click the Formsdropdown arrow and choose Make a New Form Active. Then, click the State dropdown arrow and choose Federal. Select the W2 form and click Add Form.
        • In the Process W2s for options:
          • Select All Employees if you want to print W2s for all your employees at once.
          • Select Employee's Last Name (choose from and to) to print by batch.
        • In Select Filing Period section, in the Year field, enter the year of the form you are printing and click OK. QuickBooks Desktop stores one version of the tax form only. If you have already received the 2019 version of the form, but need to print W2 forms for 2018, you may be able to use the newer version of the form. Check with the Social Security Administration or your tax advisor for additional instructions before proceeding.
          • If you choose to print the forms for 2018 on blank paper, they will include the year "2018" because the year is part of the government-approved form.
          • If you choose to print the forms for 2018 on preprinted form, QuickBooks Desktop might not print the information in the correct locations. QuickBooks Desktop will print the form details aligned for 2019.
        • In the Select Employees for Form W2/W3 window, select the employees you are printing for.
          • You can click Mark All to select all employees displayed.
          • If you have not yet reviewed all W2 forms (QuickBooks will usually flag this by displaying missing checkmarks in the Reviewed column), click Review/Edit.
          • After reviewing, click Submit Form to continue printing.
        • Select Print/E-file. This will open the Print W2 and W3 Forms window.

           

          step 2

          Step 2: Select the paper you’re using and the W2s you want to print

          Congrats! You made it to the Print/E-file window. Here, you’ll see that your W2s are listed by recipient (For example, For employer, and For government).

          Because QuickBooks Desktop doesn’t like to make things easy: 

          • Printing options in the For Employees section will vary, depending on the type of paper you’re using
          • You can only print one item at a time
          • The Print W2 and W3 Forms window will stay open until you close it, meaning you can go back and print one item after another (and another…) without having to close and re-open the window.

          Thankfully this isn’t as complicated as it sounds. Let’s walk through this together. 

          Here are the steps to select the paper you’re using and the W2s you want to print. 

          1. In the Select paper section, select either Blank / Perforated Paper and Preprinted Forms: May require alignment. 
          1. In the Select item to print section, select who you're printing W2s for: 

          For employees

          • If you are using Perforated Paper W2s
            • 3 per page: copies B, 2, C
            • 4 per page: copies B, 2, 2, C
            • Employee filing instructions: Required if not already printed on paper.
          • If you are using Preprinted Forms
            • W2 – Copy B: for employee’s federal tax return, 2 per page (1 per page if only 1 employee).
            • W2 – Copy 2: for your State or Local Tax Department, 2 per page (1 per page if only 1 employee).
            • W2 – Copy C: for employee records, 2 per page (1 per page if only 1 employee).
            • Employee filing instructions: Required if not already printed on paper.

          For employer

          • W2 – Copy D: for your records, 2 per page (1 per page if only 1 employee).
          • Employer filing instructions: for W2 and W3 form. 

          For government

          • W3 per page.
          • W2 — Copy A: for the Social Security Administration, 2 per page (1 per page if only 1 employee). Note: If you are filing Forms W2 and W3 electronically with the Social Security Administration, do not mail Copy A.
          • W2 — Copy 1: for your State or Local Tax Department, 2 per page (1 per page if only 1 employee).

             

            step 3 icon

            Step 3: Export your W2s to your PDF Reader and print ‘em out!

            Ta dah! It’s time to print your W2s. One at a time, of course.

            1. If you are using preprinted W2s, perform a print test to check alignment.
            • If your forms aren’t lining up, follow these instructions to adjust alignment before proceeding.
            • You can skip this step if you are using blank perforated W2s. 
            1. Click Print PDF. This exports the W2s you have selected to your computer’s PDF Reader.

            You can now print your W2s from your computer’s PDF reader by selecting FilePrint and following the prompts.

             


              

            W2 Printing FAQ: Quick answers to common questions

            Quick Links

             
            faq icon

            W2 vs W3: What’s the difference? 

            Form W2 reports employee wages and salaries to federal, state, and local agencies, along with a copy for the employee. 

            Form W3, also known as a “W3 transmittal summary form,” is required when you file W2s by mail. W3s add up all the information on your individual W2 forms into a total for the Social Security Administration (SSA).

            You can buy W3 forms online from Blue Summit Supplies. These forms comply with IRS and QuickBooks printing requirements.

             

            faq icon

            4-part or 6-part? Which one do I need?

            Your state’s filing requirements will determine whether you need to arrange a 4-part or a 6-part W2. 

            There are penalties for filing incorrectly so, if you’re unsure, check with your tax advisor to confirm how many “parts” your W2 forms will need.

            Here’s what each W2 contains: 

            4-Part W2s:

            • PART 1: Copy A
            • PART 2: Copy 1
            • PART 3: Copy B
            • PART 4: Copy C

            6-Part W2s:

            • PART 1: Copy A
            • PART 2: Copy 1
            • PART 3: Copy B
            • PART 4: Copy C
            • PART 5: Copy 2
            • PART 6: Copy D 

              US government guidelines

               

                 

                faq icon

                Copy A, Copy B, Copy C? Who gets what?

                Here’s where to send each part of the W2:

                4-Part W2s 

                • Copy A goes to the Social Security Administration
                • Copy 1 is for the city, state, or locality
                • Copy B is for filing with the employee's federal tax return
                • Copy C is for the employee's records

                6-Part W2s:

                • Copy A goes to the Social Security Administration
                • Copy 1 is for the city, state, or locality
                • Copy B is for filing with the employee's federal tax return
                • Copy C is for the employee's records
                • Copy 2 is another copy for a city, state, or locality
                • Copy D is for the employer's records

                   

                  faq icon

                  Can I print my W2s on the IRS’s free PDF W2 forms? 

                  Unfortunately, no. The IRS is very clear on this in their W2 form filing instructions: “Do not send the SSA Forms W2 and W3 that you have printed from IRS.gov. The SSA is unable to process these forms.”

                  This means that you cannot use the IRS’s free PDF W2s to print with QuickBooks (or any other type of accounting software for that matter).

                   

                  faq icon

                  What type of paper should I use to print my W2s? 

                  QuickBooks Online

                  Provided you have an active QuickBooks Online Payroll subscription, you’ll need to print your W2s onto 4-up horizontal blank perforated paper W2s.

                  QuickBooks Desktop

                  If you’re using Standard Payroll or Enhanced Payroll, you can use either:

                  If you’re using Assisted Payroll, you’ll need to print your W2s onto 4-up horizontal blank perforated paper W2s.

                   

                  faq icon

                  Can I mail my W2 forms to the IRS?

                  Yes. The IRS allows businesses with less than 250 W2s to file W2s via mail. If you need to file 250 or more W2 forms, you must file electronically.

                   

                  faq icon

                  Do I need a special envelope to mail W2s to employees?

                  No, but you’ll save time and avoid mailing errors if you use custom W2 envelopes.

                  These double-window envelopes display the employer and employee addresses once your W2 form is inserted into the envelope.

                   

                  faq icon

                  Why is the Printer Setup button unavailable in QuickBooks?

                  QuickBooks no longer allows users to print W2s directly from QuickBooks. 

                  Instead, once you’ve prepared your W2s inside QuickBooks, you’ll see a “Print PDF” option. Click that button and QuickBooks will export your W2s to your computer’s PDF reader. 

                  If you need to configure your printer’s setup, you can do so inside your computer’s PDF reader program (usually Adobe Reader) before printing your W2s.

                   

                  faq icon

                  Why can’t I see my W2s in QuickBooks?

                  W2s become available in QuickBooks from 1 January onwards. Once you’ve finished running payroll for the year, you should be able to log in, access your W2s, and print them out.

                  If you can’t see W2s in your QuickBooks account, it could have something to do with your QuickBooks subscription.

                  To view and print W2s in QuickBooks Desktop Payroll, you’ll need to be subscribed to the Enhanced Service or Standard Service.

                  If you are using the QuickBooks Payroll Basic Service, W2 forms will not be available in QuickBooks Desktop. You can create a payroll summary reportto get the data you need to manually complete the form.

                  To view and print W2s in QuickBooks Online Payroll, you’ll need an Enhanced level subscription (or a Basic subscription that was started before April 1, 2013).

                  If this isn’t the issue, the quickest way to troubleshoot this is to contact QuickBooks customer support.

                     

                    Cameron McCool
                    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

                    Cameron McCool writes for Blue Summit Supplies, America's #1 destination for buying office supplies online. In his spare time, you'll find him drinking way too much coffee and growing his copywriting business damngoodwriters.com.


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