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What is W-2 or Wage Income?

Sample Paycheck

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Sample W-2 Form

It's taxable income reported on IRS Form W-2. The form reports your annual wages and the amount of taxes withheld from your paycheck. You would receive a W-2 if you earned income with withheld tax or your income is at least $600 with no tax withheld during the year.

The "W" in W-2 stands for "withholding". We don't know what the "2" means, but we'll update this page once we find out! 

How It Is Different from a W-4 Form

While a W-2 is for employers to complete and send to you, you complete and provide a W-4 to your employer to inform them of how much tax you want withheld from your paycheck.  

When You Would Receive a W-2

Your employer would give you a W-2 (he or she also sends a copy of the W-2 to the IRS) if you received income for performing services and the following tax is withheld: 

Tax would only be withheld from your income if you claimed no more than one withholding allowance on a W-4 form or you had not claimed a withholding exemption. 

Items on a W-2 Form

The following items are listed on your W-2 form: 

  • Box A: Your SSN
  • Box B: Your employer's identification number (EIN)
  • Box C: Your employer's name, address (may be company's headquarters instead of local address), city, state, and zip code
  • Box D: Control number assigned by company's payroll processing software that identifies your W-2 in your employer's documents
  • Box E: Your full name
  • Box F: Your address, city, state, and zip code

Your W-2 may also include a locality code. This number indicates where your employer is located. Your state may require the code to allocate local income taxes. You can find the code in the state section of your W-2. 

When You Should Receive a W-2

Generally, employers are required to send W-2s to employees by January 31.

What to Do If There's an Error on Your W-2

You should contact your employer and request a corrected W-2. 

What to Do If You Don't Receive a W-2

If you have not received your W-2 by February 14, you should call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. When you call, you must provide your name, address, city and state, zip code, Social Security number and phone number. You should also have the following information on hand: 

  • Employer’s name, address, city and state, zip code, and phone number
  • Dates of employment
  • Estimate of earned wages, federal income tax withheld (estimate should be based on year-to-date information from your final pay stub or leave-and-earnings statement). 

However, if you still do not receive your W-2, you can report your income on Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2. This form can be prepare and efiled with your tax return on efile.com.

How to Receive a Copy of a W-2

Copies of W-2 forms must generally be obtained from your employer (or previous employer). However, you can get the information from an old W-2 by ordering a free transcript from the IRS.

How to Report Your W-2 Income on a Tax Return

Once you answer a few simple questions during the efile.com tax interview, we will select the correct form(s) for you to use to report your W-2 income.

What to Enter on Your Return If There's No State Tax on a W-2

If the W-2 form you received has no State wages and income taxes, do not select a state nor enter a state tax withholding amount on line 15 of your W-2 screen. If you select a state, lines 16 and 17 will be required. In addition, if there are no Local wages or Local income taxes on your W-2 form, leave those fields empty on the W-2 screen.