Under recently proposed and temporary regulations, the ability to file for an automatic W-2 filing extension will be eliminated on Dec. 31, 2016. Instead, a single 30-day extension will be available by application for the 2017 filing season and later. Grants of extensions after 2016 will be limited to extraordinary circumstances or catastrophes. 

The changes, which will make compliance more challenging for business taxpayers, is intended to help the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) combat identify theft. Eventually, the IRS is expected to eliminate automatic extensions for all information returns and replace them with a single, non-automatic 30-day extension. However, this change will not be effective before Dec. 31, 2017.