Search form

2018 General Requirements FAQ

Electronic Reporting of W-2s, W-2Gs, and 1099s

Q: Who must file W-2s, W-2Gs, and 1099s? 

A: Beginning in 2019 for tax year 2018: 

  • Businesses with 1 or more 1099s that have Iowa tax withholding are required to electronically file all Iowa 1099 Information Returns that contain Iowa tax withholding for tax year 2018 by January 31, 2019.
  • Businesses with 1 or more W-2s that have Iowa tax withholding are required to electronically file all Iowa W-2 Wage Statements that contain Iowa tax withholding for tax year 2018 by January 31, 2019.

Q: What is a withholding agent?

A: Any employer that withholds Iowa taxes on behalf of their employees.

Q: If I have 60 employees, but only 10 of them have Iowa withholding tax, am I required to file W-2 / 1099 forms for all my employees with the Department for tax year 2018? 

A: If an employer is withholding tax for 1 or more employees, then they must submit W-2s / 1099s for all Iowa employees.

Q: If I have 60 Iowa employees, and also employees in other states, am I required to file W-2 / 1099 forms only for the Iowa employees or all employees? 

A: Only W-2 and 1099 forms for employees with Iowa wages must be filed with the Department. 

Q: What qualifies as “Iowa Wages / Income”?

A: All wages/income earned in Iowa or while living is Iowa.

Q: What is the due date to file 2016 W-2s, W-2Gs, and 1099s? 

A: January 31, 2019. 

Q: Can I request an extension of time to file? 

A: Yes. Complete an Application For Extension of Time to File Iowa W-2 Wage Statements to file beyond the January 31,2019 due date.

Q: I missed the due date. Should I still submit them? 

A: Yes. You are still required to submit the information even if it is late. 

Q: Do I need to give employees a copy of their W-2? 

A: Yes. You must give a copy to your employees by January 31st each year. 

Q: Does Iowa participate in Combined Reporting? 

A: The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers no Combined Reporting program for reporting W-2 wage statements to both the Social Security Administration and state revenue agencies. 

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers Combined Federal/State Filing program (CF/SF) for reporting certain information returns to both the IRS and state revenue agencies, but the Iowa Department of Revenue does not participate in it. 

Q: I already file with the IRS. Will this be adequate? 

A: No. You must file separately with the Iowa Department of Revenue.

Q: What is a BEN number? 

A: The Business eFile Number (BEN) is a credential that the Iowa Department of Revenue assigns to business taxpayers, service providers, and 3rd party transmitters to access Iowa’s eFile & Pay application. The BEN is confidential. The Department only gives confidential information to the business owner, responsible party, or a person with power of attorney. 

A bulk filer must use its own BEN to log into eFile & Pay, not its client’s BEN. In order to receive a Business eFile Number (BEN) Complete the eFile & Pay Bulk Filer Application and follow submission instructions on the form. 

Q: Has a process been identified by which entities without an Iowa withholding permit and BEN can file 1099s? 

A: The Department requires the payer to have a withholding permit and BEN in order to file. 

Q: What are Iowa’s specifications and record formats? 

A: Iowa specifications and record formats are compatible with federal specifications and record formats:

  • SSA – Social Security Administration Publication No. 42-007, Specifications for Filing Form W-2 Electronically (EFW2) for Tax Year 2016. Copies of the SSA file may be used for Iowa filing as long as the state information, known as the 'RS' records are included. 
  • IRS – IRS Publication 1220 Specifications for Electronic Filing of Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, 5498, and W-2G for Tax Year 2016. Copies of the IRS file may be used for Iowa filing as long as the state information is included in the ‘B’ record. 

Q: Does Iowa accept other types of files, such as CD-ROMs, cartridges, flash drives, floppy disks, magnetic media, or PDFs? 

A: No. 

Q: Does Iowa accept paper W-2s and 1099s? 

A: No. 

Q: Should I submit W-2 and 1099 forms that do not have Iowa withholding? 

A: Yes. The payer must include W-2 and 1099 forms for all Iowa employees, even if they have zero Iowa withholding, but only if the payer has an Iowa withholding permit. 

Q: Do I need to file a Verified Summary of Payments (VSP) report? 

A: If you withheld Iowa income tax, or hold an active Iowa withholding permit number, in addition to filing wage statements and information returns, you must file an annual VSP report. 

Q: When is the 2018 VSP report due? 

A: January 31, 2019. Prior to 2016, the VSP had been due the last day of February following the tax year. 

Q: Is the VSP part of the W-2 / 1099 upload process or are they handled separately? 

A: The W-2 and 1099 are separate uploads from the VSP.

Q: Is it possible to receive two VSP uploads or would the filer of 1099 information be combined with the filer of W-2 information? 

A: Each VSP report pertains to one Iowa withholding permit. 1099 and W-2 withholding information occurring under one Iowa withholding permit should be reported on a single VSP report. 1099 and W-2 withholding information occurring under separate Iowa withholding permits should be reported on separate VSP reports. 

Q: Do I need authorization to upload my file? 

A: Companies registered to file Iowa withholding returns use their existing eFile & Pay credentials to upload W-2 wage statements and 1099 information returns for their own company. 

Payroll Service Providers and Transmitters registered as Bulk Filers with the Iowa Department of Revenue use their own eFile & Pay credentials to upload withholding returns, wage statements, and information returns on behalf of their clients. 

Q: Is a test file required? 

A: No, sending a test file is not required, however it is recommended. Test files may be uploaded through Iowa eFile & Pay in demo mode . 

Q: Is a transmittal letter required with my file? 

A: No. Do not include a transmittal letter. 

Q: How will I know the Department received my file? 

A: For each file Iowa receives, Iowa posts a corresponding results file. If there are issues with your data, the results file will report why your file (or parts of it) was rejected; error messages will be listed accordingly. You will need to correct the errors and resubmit a new file.