A W-2 form is a tax form created by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the US. It is also called the Wage and Tax Statement and is used to report information about money earned and taxes deducted to the Social Security Administration (SSA), the IRS, and to employees. Employers create these forms for their employees and send copies to the SSA. The SSA then sends information from the W-2 to the IRS.
Employees use a W-2 form, or several if they worked for more than one company, to help file their tax returns. They usually receive several copies so that they can keep one for their records, and file the other copies with federal, state, and local tax agencies. Of most importance on these forms is wages earned and amount of payment in taxes.
All workers tend to receive their W-2s at approximately the same time each year. The government requires employers to send them to employees by the 2 February, and they must then file them with the SSA by 2 March.
Anyone who has worked for an employer during the year and been paid for their work in between 1 January and 31 December should receive a W-2, even if little money was taken out in taxes. People who work as independent contractors don’t receive this form; instead, they receive a 1099. Nonresident aliens who work for US employers typically get a 1042-S instead of a W-2.
The form can have multiple components separated into boxes. It includes the employee’s name, the company’s name, and the employee’s Social Security number. The standard form has 20 numbered boxes, which include the following information:
- Wages, tips, and compensation
- Federal income tax withheld
- Social Security wages
- Social Security tax withheld
- Medicare wages and tips
- Medicare tax withheld
- Social Security tips
- Allocated tips
- Advanced earned income credit (EIC) payment
- Dependent care benefits
Other categories include amounts paid to state and local income tax.
Not all employees will have each box of the form filled out; it depends upon the employee’s status, income, and deductions that may be nontaxable. Other variables include whether a state or local area assesses taxes.
If people work for more than one employer during the year, they can expect a W-2 from each. When one is not received, employees or former employees should contact that employer. If people are filing taxes with more than one W-2 form, all amounts must be combined to accurately report wages and withheld taxes. Income tax forms typically reference specific box numbers so people know where to look on their W-2s to find needed information for income tax forms.