Final rules permit truncated TINs on W-2s

If an employer elects, forms issued to employees starting in 2021 will show only the final four numerals of their SSN.
By Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.

In its continuing effort to reduce identity theft, the IRS issued final regulations that permit employers to use truncated taxpayer identification numbers (TTINs) on Forms W-2Wage and Tax Statement, issued to employees. The regulations finalize proposed rules issued in September 2017 with no substantive changes.

Permissible TTINs are Social Security numbers (SSNs) with the first five digits replaced with asterisks or Xs: ***-**-1234 or XXX-XX-1234.

The new rules were authorized by an amendment to Sec. 6051(a)(2) made by the Protecting Americans From Tax Hikes Act, P.L. 114-113. Although this change was effective on the date of enactment, Dec. 18, 2015, the IRS is delaying the effective date of the final regulations to statements required to be furnished after Dec. 31, 2020.

To ensure accurate wage information is received by the Social Security Administration, the regulations do not permit TTINs on Forms W-2 that are being sent to that agency or to the IRS. They are also not allowed on Forms W-2 being provided on a statement furnished to the employer of a payee who received sick pay from a third party, because Sec. 6051(f)(1)(A)(i) specifically requires the statement to contain the employee's SSN.

But TTINs may be used on Forms W-2 being provided by employers to employees that report third-party sick pay because that is permitted by statute. Truncated numbers may also be used for reporting wages paid in the form of group term life insurance.

In 2014, the IRS issued final regulations that allow the use of TTINs on certain payee statements, such as those associated with forms in the 1099 series and other documents.

  • T.D. 9861

— By Sally P. Schreiber, J.D., a JofA senior editor.

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