W-2 Program Change for 2018 Reporting

NOTE: You only need to copy the necessary file once; regardless of how many companies you have for processing payroll, the same program files are used by all companies.


There are no changes to the printing of the W-2 forms, however, the SSA has made a change to the electronic file format (EFW2).

For 2018 reporting, SSA has added two new fields pertaining to equity grants under section 83(i) of the IRS code. These fields are reported using Box 12 codes GG and HH. While I am confident these fields do not pertain to any of my sites using this software, these are required fields that must be set to zero in order for you to submit electronically.

Again this year, the SSA does not allow you to download to your computer the Accuwage program for testing.  You now must logon to your BSO account with SSA and upload a test file through their site to run a test.  I do recommend that you always test your file before you submit it.  Note that your company is BOTH the Submitter of the file, and the Employer.  When you test the file, you can ignore the warning message that is flagged that points out that you are both the submitter and the employer - that is the way it should be.

EVERYONE should perform this update to be in compliance with the new reporting standards. Details on how to install the update are found below.

How to download

The trick is to download the file described below, and get it into the correct location on your server. To update your program we will NOT go through a formal install process through the Resource Manager. Instead, you will simply download a ZIP archive that contains the updated files from this web site, extract the files in place and replace the old files with the new ones. In order to be successful in your update, you must know exactly where your payroll programs are located.

The link below will prompt you to download and save the update file. But before you do that, you will need to know where your payroll directory progPA is located. On what drive is your payroll system located? What is the base subdirectory for your OSAS system? In recent years, with the new client/server version of OSAS, it is not easy to explain where to look. The good news is that most people already know where to look. In many cases, you use a mapped drive to be able to access the location on your server where OSAS resides. You may do this to retrieve direct deposit files, or other report files. So look for the location on your server where OSAS resides. The drive will most often have the OSAS folder in plain sight. The OSAS folder usually also includes a version number, so you may see folders like: OSAS752, or OSAS76. In fact, there may be more than one OSAS folder. This is common because when we do an upgrade, we often keep the old version still in place for a while. Look for the OSAS folder with the highest number – that would be the live system, while the lower number is the old version. So go exploring through My Computer and find the live OSAS folder and the progPA folder underneath it.

So if your base location is O:\OSAS76, then you want to save your update to O:\OSAS76\PROGPA. If your base location is O:\OSAS752, then you want to save your update to O:\OSAS752\progPA.

Try a 'Right-Click' on the link below to download the new update, and select Save As to save it in your payroll subdirectory:

Click here to download the 2018 W2 program update.

By right clicking on the link above, you should receive an option to SAVE or SAVE AS this file – W2UP2018.zip. When you select to save the file, you should have a browse window where you can navigate to the desired location you have identified as your payroll folder and save it there. (If given a choice, use SAVE AS instead of SAVE in order to have a choice on where you save the file, otherwise, look for the file in your DOWNLOADS folder.)

Now go through My Computer, to the folder where you saved the update: select the drive location where your payroll system is located, select the base location, select the folder PROGPA. When you are in this folder you will see dozens of files. Look for the file you just downloaded: W2UP2018.zip. The extension .zip may not show. The .zip file most often will have an icon that looks like a folder with a zipper on it. Once you have found the file, 'Right-Click'; on the file, and then select: Extract All. When you go through the wizard, you will need to edit the directory location the wizard provides. Remove the \W2UP2018 from end of the directory location. The location should end with progPA. You should say YES to overwrite the existing 1 file that is updated:


In fact, if it does not ask you to overwrite the existing file, you must not be in the right location. Your update should now be complete.

How to tell if it is updated

The easiest way to tell if your program has been updated is by going into the Create EFW2 (or MMREF1) Disk File function. In the new version, the title at the top of the screen will say: Create EFW2 Reporting File – YYYY. The important tell that the update was correct is that you should see a line at the top of the screen that indicates:

Using 2018 EFW2 File Format

Note that while the menu still may say MMREF, the program title uses EFW2.

If you have any problems with your update, please give me a call.

Things to Think About

The SSA requires that PHONE numbers contain only digits 0-9. So when you are entering your contact information, do NOT include any spaces or special characters in the phone number: 6087816734.

You should ALWAYS test your file before submission. The SSA has included an alert warning message when you run a test. The alert warning is on the RE record that the Submitter EIN and the Employer EIN are matching. This is not a problem and this alert can be ignored (they should match).

You can download the complete specifications with details for each field of the records from:


Several states: IL, IA, MN, and PA, have taken the unfortunate step of customizing the federal standard for electronic reporting in some trivial way. If you are in one of these states, then you must create two different electronic files. If you submit the same file to both, then one of them will reject it. On the prompt screen for creating the EFW2 file, leaving the STATE blank always includes all employees and creates a file in the SSA standard format.


The file that is created is always named; EFW2YYYY (where YYYY is the payroll year). Anticipating that you may need to submit different files to SSA and the state, I recommend creating the SSA file first, proof all figures, and rename the file to a unique name (like EFW2YYYY-SSA). It is by selecting a single state ID that the software knows to then create the unique required data for that particular state (and thus the file is NOT in the standard SSA format). When you create the state file, then rename that file to include the state ID (like EFW2YYYY-IL).  If you have more than one state that you report to, you can create separate files for each state if needed.  So once you have created a file, I would manually rename that file with a name that indicates who you will submit it to.  The file can normally be found in the \data folder of the system. Check the date stamp on the file to confirm it is the one you just created.