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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Dec. 7, 2007

No more W-2 woes

by Paula Van Brocklin

Tax season is upon us. Make it less hectic by opting for an electronic W-2 from Iowa State. It will save you time, and save the university money.

Iowa State first offered electronic W-2 forms (wage and tax statements) in 2005. All employees received paper copies that year even if they requested an electronic version. Last year, employees needed to choose either paper or electronic. Of the 19,500 W-2s Iowa State processed last year, 30 percent of employees opted for the electronic version. This year, the controller's department hopes that number exceeds 75 percent.

"We're currently at 48 percent electronic," said Doug Anderson, payroll manager in the controller's department. "Because last year was the first year [employees had the option of electronic or paper W-2s], we'll be way ahead of the game this year simply because it's the second year."

It cost between $7,000 and $10,000 for Iowa State to process, print and mail paper W-2s last year. Anderson said one of the greatest savings from electronic W-2s comes from not issuing duplicate copies.

"We would normally have to print 800 to 1,000 duplicate W-2s each year," Anderson explained. "That would add up to roughly two weeks work for one employee."

The ability to print your own copy is one of the biggest perks of an electronic W-2.

"You wouldn't believe the stories of how people lost their original W-2s -- 'the dog ate it,' 'I ran it through the washer,'" Anderson said. "The electronic W-2 makes it easy to just go print a second or third copy, however many you need."

Another advantage of an electronic W-2 is that it's available to employees sooner than paper copies. Anderson said electronic W-2s will be available in mid-January, but paper copies will not be mailed until Jan. 30.

As convenient and efficient as electronic W-2s are, paper copies will never go away completely due to Internal Revenue Service regulations.

"The IRS does not allow us to mandate an electronic W-2," Anderson said, "but they allow us to give an option for an electronic version."

To get an electronic W-2, log on to AccessPlus and go to the "Employee" tab. Select "W-2" on the menu, and then choose to receive your W-2 electronically. Remember to click "Submit." The choice of a paper or electronic W-2 remains in place until an employee chooses to change it.

The controller's department will send an e-mail to all employees when the electronic W-2s are available. A message also will appear on the AccessPlus home page.


Employees that elect to receive an electronic W-2 receive them in mid-January. Paper copies aren't mailed until Jan. 30.