Form W-2: Wage and Tax Statement
The IRS requires employers to report wage and salary information for employees on Form W-2. Your W-2 also reports the amount of federal, state and other taxes withheld from your paycheck.
As an employee, the information on your W-2 is extremely important when preparing your tax return. To ensure you have it in time, the IRS requires your employer to send you a W-2 no later than January 31 following the close of the tax year, December 31.
W-2 wages and withholding
You should only receive a W-2 if you are an employee. If you are an independent contractor, or self-employed, the work you do may be the same as an employee, but you will receive an earnings statement on a Form 1099-MISC rather than a W-2.
The W-2 form is divided into boxes that report various items relating to your income. In box 1 of the W-2 you will find your taxable wage and salary payments, with the amount of federal tax withheld in box 2.
Since a portion of your income is subject to the Social Security tax, you may find that box 3 reports an amount that is more or less than your taxable wages (box 1) for the year. Other boxes on the W-2 form include your wages subject to Medicare tax, Social Security taxes that are withheld, and information on your state income tax withholding, if applicable.
Importance of your tax withholding
When your employer withholds amounts from your paycheck for federal income taxes, those amounts are remitted to the IRS throughout the year. You may not realize it, but in most cases, you cannot wait until April 15 to pay your entire tax bill. The IRS requires everyone to make periodic payments throughout the year; however, as an employee, your employer takes care of this for you.
Verifying your name and Social Security number
The identifying information section of the W-2 is essentially a tracking feature. If the income you report on your taxes does not match the information on your W-2, the IRS will want to know why. Similarly, the IRS will match the reported payment amounts with your employer's tax return for accuracy.
Most importantly, since the IRS receives a copy of your W-2, it already knows you have taxable wages and may contact you if you fail to file a tax return. If the name or Social Security number on your W-2 is inaccurate, you should immediately report this to your employer to correct.
Attaching your W-2
When you finish your tax returns and get ready to file them, remember that a copy of your W-2 must always be attached to the front of a paper-filed return. If on the other hand you e-file using TurboTax, then your W-2 information is sent along with your tax return electronically, and no attachment is necessary.
What if I received two or more W-2s?
After you have entered in your first W-2, you will be given the option of adding any additional W-2s you may have received. Simply click on the Add W-2 button, and we will walk you through step-by-step adding all your W-2s.
If you have yet to receive your W-2, please click here to explore your options.
If you need to correct or change any information you have entered from your W-2, the steps you take depends on if you have already filed your tax return.
- If you have yet to file your return, simply navigate to your W-2 following the instructions below, and correct or change your information.
- Click on the Federal Taxes tab, then select the Wages & Income subtab and choose Explore on My Own.
- Scroll down to the Wages & Salaries section, and click the Update button.
- Click the Edit button next to the W-2 you need to correct.
- If you have already filed your return, you will need to amend your return. Please click here for instructions.
For questions about printing, please click here.
If you have questions about the availability of any forms, please click here.