Form W-2: Why and how to preview employee Wage and Tax Statements

Take advantage of previewing your W-2 forms now to make sure you’ve entered correct wages, benefits and employee information for 2021. Learn what common mistakes to look for and how to fix them now.

In this article

What is a W-2 preview?

Available November 1st, the W-2 forms are a preview of what your employees’ W-2 forms will look like based on pay and benefits issued so far in 2021. This allows you to review the wage, tax, employee and business details to ensure forms are filed accurately, without the need for corrections later on.

The information you view in the W-2 preview reflects current year-to-date payroll information on the day you preview it. If you’ve approved a payroll with a payday in the future, the pay and benefits it includes will appear on previews generated after the payday has passed.

How do I preview my W-2 forms?

The preview contains 2021 Form W-2s for each of your employees, and your 2021 Form W-3. It reflects only wages and benefits paid up to the date it is generated. Do not use these forms for filing. The final versions will be available in January 2022.

  1. Under Payroll > Click Tax Forms
  2. Click Download Preview

Important dates

November 1, 2021: Form W-2 previews are available! Be sure to review your forms early to make sure your year-to-date entries are accurate and finish the year strong.  

January 5, 2022: The last day for those enrolled in Tax Services to request adjustments to Form W-2 prior to SSA submission. Adjustments requested after this date will require a Form W-2C.

Verify that your employees' wages, benefits and personal information is correct

Are all employees paid within 2021 reported (even from before Wave)?
Are all wages reported accurately?
Are all benefits reported accurately?


Common W-2 errors:
Incorrect Social Security Numbers (SSN)
Incorrect Addresses
Incorrect Names (the employee name appearing on the W-2 must match their SSN card)
Incorrect Benefit Codes (Box 10,12)

Need more information about adding benefits in Wave?
[US] Payroll Deduction Features

Need to make a correction?

During the W-2 preview period you can correct employee names, addresses, and SSNs directly in your Wave account. Here's how:

  1. Under Payroll > click Employees
  2. Select the Employee
  3. Click Personal information

Need to enter a benefit enjoyed during 2021?

If you are missing a benefit, and have yet to run your final 2021 payroll, you will be able to add it to payroll before the end of the year. To do this, go to the employee profile > click Benefits & Deductions.

If you're missing a benefit and cannot add it to a future payroll in Wave, click on the help icon at the bottom of the screen in your Wave account and contact our Support Team as soon as possible. Please include the employee name, the benefit or deduction name, and the amount.

A reminder that January 5, 2022 is the last day for those enrolled in Tax Services to request adjustments to Form W-2 prior to SSA submission. Adjustments requested after this date will require a Form W-2c.

Once changes have been made to a W-2 preview form, it will need to be regenerated in Wave. For businesses not enrolled in Wave's automated tax payment and filing service, please select Discard and Start Over to view updated previews of your forms.

New reporting requirements and COVID-19 reporting

  • Since 2020, employers are now allowed to mask their employees' SSN's on all copies of Form W-2, except for Copy A. This will assist in identity theft protection, and will only allow the last four digits of the SSN to appear on the W-2. On your preview, you will see the employee SSN as "***-**-XXXX."
  • If you used the FFCRA's Sick or Family Medical Leave, as well as the ARPA extended leave, for your employee(s), you will see this reported in Box 14 with the gross wage totals from each. 

Confirm if you are required to electronically file W-2 forms, and register with the Social Security Administration Business Services Online 

If you are not enrolled in Wave's automated tax payment and filing service, you are responsible for filing W-2 forms with the Social Security Administration (SSA) before the filing deadline.

If you plan to file electronically you can register now so that you’re ready in January. If you plan to complete paper filings, remember to check updated SSA guidance to ensure you are not required to file electronically.

Check out Wave's SS BSO Registration Guide for more details on how to register.

Currently, if you file more than 250 returns, the IRS requires you to file them electronically. Government agencies are currently preparing updated requirements for e-filing tax returns. The proposed change would require employers to file electronically in 2021 if they have more than 100 returns, and in 2022 if they have more than 10. Remember to check for updated IRS requirements before you file.

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