The W-2 or Wage Income Forms
Each employer reports annual taxable wage or salary based earned income to employees/workers via a W-2 Form by January 31 for the previous tax year ending on December 31. A copy of this same report is sent for each employee/worker by the employer via the W-3 Form to the IRS by January 31 as well. In addition, Copy A of the W-2 is submitted by the Employer to the Social Security Administration. An employee/worker receives a W-2 if at least $600 was paid during a year. The W-2 reports the income issued as well as the amounts withheld for taxes, healthcare, retirement, or other withholding program through the employer. You will have to report your earned income as an employee even if you earn less than this and do not receive the form.
The "W" in W-2 stands for "withholding'" and/or "wage" - we don't know what the "2" means, but we'll update this page once we find out! Or, let us know if you happen to know what the "2" might stand for.
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. Completing your W-4 correctly is in your best interest; visit the extensive eFile.com W-4 calculator and help section to get the most out of your paycheck.
Information About Your W-2
You will generally need to file taxes if you receive a Form W-2 with taxes withheld. As a wage or salary employee, you may qualify for the free basic edition to prepare and e-file your federal taxes for free on eFile.com. If you have other tax forms in addition to your W-2, such as a 1099 Form reporting other income, you will file one tax return with all of this information. eFile handles the complicated tax forms for you - start for free here.
What is a W-2?
The W-2 is a form that reports an employee's/worker's annual wage and salary income for a given tax year. The W-2 Form is generated and issued by an employer after December 31 for the given tax year.
Who gets a W-2?
For any wage or salary amount you earn as an employee/worker, the employer has to issue a W-2 to you for a given tax year. Tip income may be included on the W-2
. As a nonemployee or independent contractor
, you may not receive a W-2, but a 1099-NEC instead. It is a widespread misconception that wages under $600 aren’t taxed or do not have to be reported. This is true for companies paying independent or self-employed contractors as they are not required to issue a 1099-MISC for jobs less than $600. Workers who receive a W-2 from a company with less than $600 in wages are still responsible for reporting it as there is no W-2 minimum amount to file.
The employer is required to send you a copy - Part B and C of the W-2 - either by mail or electronically by January 31 of the subsequent tax year. For example, you should receive the W-2 for Tax Year 2021 by Jan. 31, 2022, or the W-2 for Tax Year 2022 by January 31, 2023.
Listed by box letter or number:
-a: Your SSN
-b: Your employer's identification number (EIN)
-c: Your employer's name, address (may be company's headquarters instead of local address), city, state, and zip code
-d: Control number assigned by company's payroll processing software that identifies your W-2 in your employer's documents
-e: Your full name
-f: Your address, city, state, and zip code
- 1-20: Data for Income, Tax, Medicare, Social Security
Step 1: Check the W-2 immediately for its accuracy: In section b., check the employer's EIN or Employer's Identification Number. In section e. and f., check your name and address for accuracy. In sections 1-20, check the income, tax, etc. entries and compare them with your pay stubs for each employer.
Step 2: Report any inaccuracy immediately to your employer and request a new and correct copy before you eFile your taxes.
Contact your employer to request a copy of the W-2 either via mail or electronic submission. Also ask your employer if they submitted a copy of the W-2 to the IRS and state tax agency.Step 2:
If your employer does not respond or is no longer in business, call the IRS - see instructions below.Important:
If you can't get the W-2 for the current tax year, select the IRS Form 4852
on eFile.com when you eFile your taxes for the current tax year - as a substitute for Forms W-2, W-2c, and 1099-R. Use this form on eFile.com if your employer/payer does not give you a Form W-2 or Form 1099-R, or the amounts on Form W-2 or Form 1099-R are incorrect.
Did You Get Multiple W-2s?
When you prepare and eFile your taxes on eFile.com
you can add many different W-2s on the W-2 page; simply click Add W-2
. As each employer you worked for during a given tax year is required to send you a W-2, you might have multiple W-2s to report on your tax return. Furthermore, you might get two or more W-2s from the same employer if you need to report income in multiple stats or localities. You can enter and report multiple W-2s on eFile.com as you prepare your taxes.
Substitute Form W-2 with a 4852
Alternatively, if you don't get the W-2 for the current tax year prior to the tax return filing deadline of April 18, select IRS Form 4852
on eFile.com when you eFile your taxes as a substitute for Forms W-2, W-2c, and 1099-R. Use this form to estimate your W-2 income when e-filing your taxes if your employer/payer does not give you a Form W-2 or Form 1099-R, or the amounts on Form W-2 or Form 1099-R are incorrect. If you later discover that the data you submitted on the Form 4852 does not match that of your W-2, you will have to file a tax amendment
. For previous tax years, you can complete Form 4852 for the respective tax year here on eFile.com
and submit it by mail with your tax return.
Contact the IRS about your missing W-2(s)
If your employer does not respond and you have not received your W-2, contact the IRS
or call them at 1-800-829-1040. You will need the following information:
A: Your name, address, Social Security number, and phone number
B: Your employer’s name, address, phone number, and EIN - see your paystub
C: The dates you worked for the employer
D: The estimated amount of wages you were paid and federal income tax withheld for the tax year. You could use your last paystub
for the tax year to estimate these amounts.
E: Contact your state tax agency
Your W-2 IRS Taxes Withheld: Box 2
You control the amount of taxes you have listed in Box 2 on your W-2 via the Form W-4 you submitted
to your employer who issued you the W-2. We strongly encourage you to manage Box 2 or the taxes you withhold going forward through the eFile.com Taxometer Calculator Tool
. It's a free tool that helps you determine the right amount of taxes you should ask your employer to withhold with each of your paychecks. Set your Tax Return Goals
now before you taxercise your paycheck
Your W-2 State Taxes Withheld: Box 17
The same is true for your state income taxes listed in Box 17; apply the same approach as listed above for the IRS income taxes withheld via Box 2 for the state(s) that apply to you
Local Wages: Box 18 and Taxes: Box 19
If you received local wages and/or are subject to local taxes as listed in Box 18 and Box 19 on your W-2, report or enter them on the eFile.com W-2 page when you prepare your taxes. You will find additional help on that page.
Multiple Tax Withholding
Your employer might report tax withholding for two states - Box 17 - and localities - Box 19 - on the same W-2. If you are subject to additional state(s) or locality withholding, then the employer should issue an additional W-2 for you.
Your W-2 Locality Code: Box 20
Your W-2 may also include a locality code; this code indicates where your employer is located. Depending on the state, you may be required to enter this code when you eFile your taxes on eFile.com to allocate local income taxes. You can find the code in the state section - or Box 20 - of your W-2.
eFile Tip: 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 inside the eFile.com tax preparation app. If you do select a state, lines 16 and 17 on the W-2 eFile.com app page 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 eFile.com W-2 screen. You will find more help about this when you prepare and eFile your taxes.
What to Do with Your W-2(s)
When you eFile your Taxes on eFile.com
, have them with you so you can enter them on the eFile.com W-2 screen or page. Depending on the payroll provider of your employer, eFile.com might import your W-2(s) for you.
You will not have to submit the W-2 when you eFile your taxes via eFile.com
. However, if you prepare and mail in previous tax year tax returns, you will have to include Copy B of the W-2 with your IRS Return and Copy A of the W-2 with your state tax return(s).
Always keep copies of all your tax return related documents including the W-2(s).
The W-2 Form is a common tax form as most people earn income through employment. W-2 income is earned income that may qualify you for the Earned Income Tax Credit or EITC. This is one of many tax credits eFile.com will automatically determine if you qualify for and calculate it for you on your return. Create an eFile.com account and eFileIT while saving up for 60% on tax preparation fees when compared to popular e-filing platforms.
If you are missing some or all of your Tax Year 2021 income forms (W-2, 1099 etc.), you can order your wage and income transcript online. After sign in, select Income Verification and download the transcript. Once you have the income information, prepare and eFile your 2021 Tax return by Tax Day, April 18, 2022.
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