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What is a W-2 Verification Code?

Starting the filing season for 2017, the IRS has introduced some changes to verify the authenticity of the data on your W-2. What does this mean for filers receiving a W-2?

To combat tax-related identity theft and refund fraud, the IRS partnered with certain payroll service providers to include a 16-character verification code on many Forms W-2 provided to employees. The A Form W-2 with a verification code will display it in box 9, newly labeled “Verification Code.” A Form W-2 without a verification code may include a blank box 9 or no box 9 at all.

This inclusion of the verification code may affect roughly 60 million 2017 Form W-2s compared to 2 million W-2s in 2016. The code will be shown in 4 groups of 4 alphanumeric characters, separated by hyphens. It should look something like this: XXXX-XXXX-XXXX.

Please note that the verification code will not be carried over if you are using OCR to scan and import your W-2. You will need to manually enter Box 9 if you do have a value.

What if my W-2 doesn’t have a verification code? If I don’t enter a code or if I enter the wrong code, will it negatively affect my tax return?

Don’t worry, not all W-2s will have a verification code present on Box 9. Since it’s still in the testing stages, if you don’t see a verification code on your W-2, you can still file your tax return without it. It is definitely another item to look out for when reviewing your W-2 before submission but if it’s not there, please leave it blank.

If you’re paper filing your return, you may not need to provide the verification code.

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