The W-2 form is the wage and tax statement form you receive from your employers from the last year. It’s necessary for you to use it to file your taxes, because it has your taxable income on it, a figure that you will use on your tax return. It also reports amounts withheld from your employers such as taxes, Social Security, and Medicare withholding amounts.
Employer Responsibilities Regarding the W-2
Employers must mail the W-2 form to each employee who was employed with them in 2019. They are required to send the W-2 to you by January 31, 2020. That is the deadline. Employers can hand-deliver or mail the forms, but it must be given or mailed by January 31. They must also send copies of all W-2 forms to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) and to the SSA (Social Security Administration).
If you cannot get a copy of your W-2 form from your employer for some reason, contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. It will be most helpful if you have the following information available:
• Your employer’s full business name
• Your employer’s complete address
• Your employer’s telephone number
• Your employer’s tax identification number (if you have access to it)
Employee Responsibilities Regarding the W-2
Employees must record all necessary information from the W-2 form to the IRS on their tax returns. The numbers you need to complete your taxes can be found on the W-2 form, such as your “Taxable Income” for 2019.
What to Do with the Multiple Copies of the W-2 Form
Employees should receive three copies of the W-2 form. Copy B is the copy that you will mail to the IRS with your taxes if you are doing a paper-return. Keep this copy for your records if you are e-filing.
Copy C is your copy. It’s recommended you hold on to it for 4-5 years in the event of an audit. This is also how long you should keep your completed tax returns with all supporting documentation.
Copy 2 is for your state tax return. Send it to the appropriate state address if you are doing a paper-return. If you are e-filing your state taxes keep this copy with your records. Again, it’s recommended that you keep it for 4-5 years.
Understanding the W-2 Form: The Lettered Boxes
The lettered boxes are for identifying purposes. Double-check the information listed; if anything needs to be updated, let your employer know right away and update your personnel records with your employer’s Human Resource Department.
It’s a good idea to double-check this personal information by the end of the tax year, because if they have the wrong address on file, you may not receive your W-2 form, which you need to file your taxes. Even worse, if it gets mailed to the wrong address, someone else could get their hands on your private information such as your Social Security number.
If your Social Security number is wrong on the W-2 form, be sure to tell your employer right away. If it’s already been mailed to the IRS with the wrong Social Security number, call them immediately or go to your local service center office. This is typically called your local IRS taxpayer assistance center.
This page will help provide you with the correct local address of the nearest IRS taxpayer assistance center:
Other than double-checking the information in the lettered boxes, you don’t need to worry about your personal information since you already know it, though it doesn’t hurt to have it handy. Here is what each box should contain:
1. BOX A: Employee’s Social Security number
2. BOX B: Employer’s identification number (EIN)
3. BOX C: Employer’s name, address, and zip code
4. BOX D: Control Number
5. BOX E: Employee’s first name, initial, last name, and suffix
6. BOX F: Employee’s address and zip code
Understanding the W-2 Form: The Numbered Boxes
1. BOX #1: Wages, tips, other compensation – This should be your wages, tips, and any other taxable compensation you received, such as bonuses. This should also include fringe benefits such as group life insurance.
2. BOX #2: Federal income tax withheld – This should be the amount of federal income tax that was withheld by your employer in 2019.
3. BOX #3: Social Security wages – This should be the total amount of wages that are subject to Social Security tax.
4. BOX #4: Social Security tax withheld – This should be the total amount of Social Security taxes that were withheld on your paychecks by your employer in 2019.
5. BOX #5: Medicare wages and tips – This should be the total amount of wages that are subject to Medicare tax.
6. BOX #6: Medicare tax withheld – This should be the total amount of Medicare taxes that were withheld on your paychecks by your employer.
7. BOX #7: Social Security tips – This should be any tip income you received and reported to your employer.
8. BOX #8: Allocated tips – This is the tip income you received from your employer.
9. BOX #9: (Should be blank); this box was previously used, but is now terminated so it should be grey or blank.
10. BOX #10: Dependent Care benefits – This should be the amount you were reimbursed for dependent care expenses through a flexible spending account or it’s the dollar value of any dependent care services that were offered to you by your employer.
11. BOX #11: Non-qualified plans – This should be any payments that were given to you from your employer’s non-qualified deferred compensation plan or from any non-government qualified pension plan.
12. BOX #12: This should be deferred compensation and any other compensation that your employer includes. If you do not understand the amount, check with your employer.
13. BOX #13: (3 little boxes): The names of the boxes are Statutory Employee, Retirement Plan, and Third-Party Sick Pay. Your employer will select the appropriate one(s).
14. BOX #14: Other – If there is an amount here, your employer should specify what it’s for. The types of items that may be listed here are union dues, after-tax contributions to a retirement plan, or employer-paid tuition assistance. Get in touch with your employer if you are unsure as to why or what they put in this box.
15. BOX #15: State, Employer’s state identification number – This should be your employer’s state and state tax identification number.
16. BOX #16: State wages, tips, etc. – This should be the total taxable wages that you earned in the state(s) that you worked in during the 2019 tax year.
17. BOX #17: State income tax – This is the total amount of state income taxes withheld from your paychecks for the state wages and tips reported in BOX #16.
18. BOX #18: Local wages, tips, etc. – This should be total wages that are subject to local, city or other state income taxes.
19. BOX #19: Local income tax – This should be the total taxes withheld from your paychecks for local, city or other state income taxes reported in BOX# 18.
20. BOX #20: Locality name – This should be a description from your employer of the local, city, or other state tax being paid.
The W-2 form is the wage and tax statement form you should receive from your employer(s) in January. It’s pretty important because it has your taxable income and other amounts on it, things that you will need to put on your tax return.
For more information on filing your taxes in 2020, check out this article: