I recently ran into a little Quickbooks quirck so I thought I would give you a warning. When I archive something on a computer my expectation is that if I need it I will be able to pull it up and use it. When processing W-2’s I archive them inside Quickbooks. I can see a link to them so I have always believed that if I needed and old W-2 for an employee I could just pull it up and print it. No need to store nasty paper documents for 3 years because I do a great job of backing up my data and if I need it I can get it.
Well here is my latest discovery. Quickbooks uses an image of a blank W-2. The data that goes on the w-2 is archived but the image is an active file an is update from year to year. So, if you need to print a 2015 W-2 in 2017 because an employee approaches you and has lost the original you can’t do it. You will have the correct data for the 2015 W-2 but the image that it pulls up will be 2016 form W-2.
For me that is not a real big deal because I always have back years of pre printed W-2’s. I also have the software to use the archived data so I can reproduce a lost or misplaced W-2 for an employee. But most folks don’t have the software or the forms just laying around so if you have relied on those archives you may have a problem. My recommendation is keep a copy of the employee W-2’s on paper for a minimum of 3 years. That way if you need it you will have it.
Maybe the guys at Intuit have never had an employee lose a W-2 in a future year. I doubt there are many employers that have not had a similar request at least once. Maybe we can get the programmers to give a choice or maybe we can get them to create a real pdf archive that does not depend on their W-2 image file. I’m not holding my breath.