On October 28, 2016, the IRS reminded employers and small business owners of the new January 31, 2017 deadline as a result of the PATH Act.
PATH Act’s Impact on the Filing Deadlines for Forms W-2 and 1099-MISC
In the past, employers typically had until the end of February, if filing on paper, or the end of March, if filing electronically, to submit their copies of these forms. Starting 2017, the new strict W-2 filing deadline of January 31, 2017, will be enforced.
The reason for this change in the deadline is The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015. According to PATH, the employers will now have one filing deadline on January 31 for both employee copies of Forms W-2 and the filing of Forms W-2 with the Social Security Administration.
Moreover the PATH Act also affects the filing deadline for certain Forms 1099-MISC, particularly those reporting amounts in Box 7, Nonemployee Compensation. These Forms 1099-MISC will now also have to be filed on January 31, 2017.
PATH Act’s Impact on Requesting Form W-2 Filing Extension
The PATH Act also has an impact on the availability of Form W-2 filing extensions. Starting 2017, only one 30-day extension to file Form W-2 will be available and this extension is no longer automatic. If an extension is necessary, a Form 8809 “Application for Extension of Time to File Information Returns” must be completed as soon as you know an extension is necessary, but no later than January 31.
PATH Act May Delay Some Refunds Until February 15
The other major impact of the PATH Act that will be felt by many Americans is the potential hold on their refunds until February 15. The PATH Act requirest the IRS to hold the refund for any tax return claiming either the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC); the IRS must hold the entire refund, not just the portion related to the EITC or ACTC.
PATH Act is Meant to Help IRS Fight Fraud and Spot Tax Return Errors
The PATH Act was enacted by Congress and signed into law in December of 2015 in order to make it easier for the IRS to detect and prevent fraud associated with tax refunds. The idea is to give the IRS more time to identify fraudulent refunds through accelerated W-2 filing deadline for employers and holding refunds (which are frequently subject to fraud) until February 15.
Of course, the additional time will allow the IRS to also spot any errors on the tax returns.