The Internal Revenue Service and local and state taxing authorities recommend e-filing your tax returns to reduce paper use, reduce errors and to speed up refunds. When you e-file your federal and state income tax returns, you need the information from your W-2 forms for data entry, but you do not need to submit or send your W-2 forms to the government agencies unless special circumstances require it.
E-filing your federal and state tax returns is done using a purchased software program or by using one of the many available programs online. Regardless of which type you choose, you answer questions that the program asks you. This makes it easier for a person with little to no knowledge about tax returns to complete his own returns. The software automatically does the math for you after you answer all of the questions.
You enter your information from the W-2 form into the software program near the beginning of your session. You will typically see a reproduction of an actual W-2 form, or a page with numbered boxes that correspond with the box numbers on your W-2 form. When you submit your completed tax return, the W-2 information is also submitted to the government taxing agency. In most circumstances, you do not need to send your hard copy of the W-2 anywhere.
Mailing W-2 Forms
There may be instances when you will need to send copies of your W-2 to the taxing authority. In states that have homestead credit, such as Wisconsin, you can e-file your taxes and claim the homestead credit using a tax program, but you still must mail or electronically send the agency a copy of the W-RA form and copies of all required tax documents, including your W-2 forms for verification.
It's also possible that the IRS or state taxing authority may send you a letter requesting that you submit your W-2 forms after you file. For example, if the information you enter from your W-2 form when you e-file doesn’t match what the IRS has on record, you may receive a letter asking you to send copies of your W-2 forms.
Always keep copies of your tax documents including your form W-2s, 1099s and tax returns. If the federal, state or local taxing authorities have a question with regard to your e-filed tax return, you need to have a copy of your tax return and all tax documents that you used. The IRS recommends keeping copies of your tax returns and supporting documents for at least three years.
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