WITH TAX FORMS DUE EARLIER, A BID TO CURTAIL FRAUD

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In 2016, five states joined the 15 jurisdictions that follow a Jan. 31 due date for annual returns and, in most cases, state copies of Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement.

The trend may come in part from a desire to conform to the new federal deadline for Forms W-2. Starting with tax year 2016 forms filed in 2017, federal copies of Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, are to be received by the Social Security Administration by Jan. 31, moved up from Feb. 28. The change in deadline was included in the federal tax extenders bill (Pub. L. 114-113) signed Dec. 18 by President Barack Obama.

The new deadline for federal forms is part of an effort to combat tax refund fraud and identity theft. The tax extenders bill that moved up the W-2 due date included other methods for fighting tax fraud, including allowing the Internal Revenue Service to develop regulations for truncating Social Security numbers on forms.

States adopted earlier deadlines for similar reasons. Since the tax extenders bill was signed, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Mississippi, South Carolina and, most recently, Vermont moved up reconciliation dates from later in the year. Mississippi’s change was approved in 2015, but after the federal law was signed. Like the federal change, the new due dates for annual returns and state copies of Form W-2 generally are in effect for tax year 2016 forms filed next year. Mississippi’s date took effect for tax year 2015 forms.

The six states joined Alabama, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin in requiring a Jan. 31 annual reconciliation. Alabama, Connecticut, Indiana, North Carolina and Utah moved up deadlines earlier in 2015.

Minnesota came close to changing the deadline for state copies of Form W-2 earlier this month. The Minnesota deadline for annual returns is Jan. 31, but W-2s are due Feb. 28. A tax bill that included moving up the W-2 deadline to match the annual reconciliation date was passed by the legislature, but was vetoed June 7 by Gov. Mark Dayton. Minnesota is the only state with different deadlines for annual returns and W-2s.

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