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WHAT IS A W-2 FORM AND WHEN DO I USE IT?

The W-2 serves as a formal record of exactly how much money an employee was paid by a company in the previous year (including any additional financial compensation), how much tax was withheld and how much of it went to pay federal and state taxes, and Medicare levies. Officially, it’s the Wage and Tax Statement that’s required by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States to report wages paid to full-time employees and all taxes withheld from their paychecks. The W-2 is also a record of social security and government health care withholdings. Employers complete a W-2 for each permanent employee on their payroll and the original W-2 is mailed or hand delivered to the employee by no later than 31 January each year. A copy of the W-2 is forwarded to the Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration by the company. Failure to do so results in a W-2 filing penalty. In turn, the employee uses the W-2 to complete his or her federal tax return which is submitted to the IRS with the W-2 attached.

WHY THE W-2 IS IMPORTANT FOR EMPLOYEES?

The W-2 is important for an employee because it’s a record of total wages received the previous year and the amount of tax that was withheld from his/her paycheck. An employee needs this information to complete his/her annual tax return; Copy B must be attached to your federal tax return.

WHY IS TAX WITHHOLDING IMPORTANT?

Your employer is obliged to withhold a certain amount of money from your paycheck for federal income tax which is remitted to the IRS in periodic payments throughout the year. The tax amount withheld is subtracted from your annual tax bill. You may or may not receive a tax refund from the IRS; or you may need to make an additional tax payment.

WHO RECEIVES THE W-2?

In general, you only receive the W-2 if you are employed on a full-time basis by a company. Independent contractors and freelance agents who are self-employed do not receive the W-2; they receive the W-9 which is a record of all payments made to them over the annual tax year. Some companies furnish independent contractors and freelance agents with a W-2 but it’s not the norm.

DOWNLOAD THE W-2 FORM HERE

WHAT INFORMATION IS RECORDED IN THE W-2

There are a variety of W-2 forms in the marketplace and the one you receive will depend on what payroll system your employer is using. Regardless, every W-2 records the same information.
Boxes A to F
Records identifying information; social security number, tax identity number (TIN) or employer identity number (EIN), legal name, physical and postal address If any of the above information changes, the employer must notify their employer who’ll change it on the payroll system.
Box 1
Records annual taxable wages or salary. This number includes your wages and any other taxable compensation such as cash gifts, tips and annual bonus.
Box 2
Reports the total amount of tax withheld from your paycheck by your employer for federal income taxes.
Box 3
Reports the total amount of your wages that is subject to Social Security Administration tax. As of 2018, this applies to wages up to US$128 400.
Box 4
Reports the total amount of Social Security taxes withheld from your paychecks. This is a flat rate tax of 6.2% on your wage income up to US$128 400.
Box 5
Reports the amount of your wages that are subject to Medicare tax. There is no maximum wage base for Medicare.
Box 6
Reports the amount of tax withheld from your paycheck for the Medicare tax. As at 2018, this is a flat rate tax of 1.45%.
Box 7
Records any tip income you reported to your employer. Tip income is gratuity, cash or non-cash items that a service professional receives from a customer. Tip income is considered taxable income.
Box 8
Reports any tip income that was allocated to you by your employer. This amount excludes wages reported in the former boxes.
Box 9
The tax perk this box applies to ended in 2010 so the box is not filled in.
Box 10
Reports any amount you have been reimbursed for dependent care expenses through a flexible spending amount or the dollar value of dependent care services provided to you by your employer. Amounts under US$5 000 are not taxable but any amount over that must be reported as taxable wages in Boxes 1, 3 and 5.
Box 11
Reports any amount give to you by your employer as part of a non-qualified deferred compensation plan or non-government Section 457 pension plan. This amount has been included as part of your taxable wages in Box 1.
Box 12
Reports any deferred compensation or other compensation.
Box 13
There are 3 boxes within Box 13 which only apply if you are a statutory employee. Your wages are not subject to tax withholding; only Social Security and Medicare tax.
Box 14
Reports any additional taxable income earned over the course of the year. This might be union dues, tuition fees paid by your employer or after-tax contributions to a retirement plan.
Box 15
Reports your employer’s state and state tax identification number.
Box 16
Reports the total amount of taxable wages you have earned in that state. There will be multiple lines filled out if you work in multiple states.
Box 17
Reports the total amount of state income taxes withheld from your paycheck.
Box 18
Reports the total amount of wages subject to local, city or other state taxes.
Box 19
Reports the total amount of taxes withheld from your paycheck for local, city or other state taxes.
Box 20
Records a brief description of the local, city or other state tax being paid. It will identify a particular city or a state tax such as state disability insurance payments.

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE W-2

The employer

Use the W-2 to report all taxable wages and additional compensation paid to a full-time employee and all taxes and Medicare contributions withheld. Mail or hand deliver the original copy to each employee and send copies to the IRS and Social Security Administration. As a rule, you are obliged to complete a W-2 for any employee who earns US$ 600 and more in wages as a permanent employee in the company.

The employee

If you have earned US$ 600 and more in wages in full-time employment over the course of a year, you are required to submit a tax return to the IRS. You will get 3 copies of your W-2 from your employer which must be issued by 31 January each year.
Copy 2
Used to report your state, city or local income tax and is filed with the relevant tax authorities.
Copy B
Used to report your federal income taxes and is filed with your federal income tax return.
Copy C
Kept for your records; it should be kept on file for at least 3 years after the due date of your tax return.

DOWNLOAD THE W-2 FORM HERE

WHAT TO DO IF YOU DON’T GET A W-2?

If your employer refuses to give you a W-2 or you can’t get it because the company is no longer in existence, you need to contact the IRS and schedule an appoint to advise them of the problem. It’s a serious concern because the W-2 has to be submitted with your federal tax return. As a precaution, keep all your wage payslips on file which you can produce if requested by the IRS. Tax withheld by the company should be itemized on your wage payslips.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE W-2 AND W-9

The main difference is the W-2 is generally provided to full-time employees in a company who are required to attach it to their federal tax returns; while the W-9 is provided to independent contractors and freelance agents working on a self-employed basis. The W-9 is kept on file by the contractor/freelancer; the company keeps it on file and uses it to complete a 1099-MISC for that person/firm.

The W-2 is considered to be an “output’ document while the W-9 is an “input” document. In other words, the W-2 is used to report information to the IRS and Social Security Administration while the W-9 is used to collect information that is filed and used purely to complete another form. The IRS receives and processes an employee’s W-2 but it doesn’t require the W-9 from either the employer or employee.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE W-2 AND 1099

The two forms are essentially the same but issued for different reasons.
A full-time employee receives a W-2 from his/her employee which is a record of how much money he/she has been earned over the tax year and how much money has been withheld for federal and state tax and the Medicare levy.
The IRS receives a copy of your W-2 from your employer; the employee uses the to fill in his/her federal tax return. W-2 Copy B is attached and received by the IRS.
The 1099 is a record of income paid to an independent contractor or freelance agent working on a self-employed basis. A 1099 must be submitted by the contractor/freelancer if earnings are in excess of US$ 600 over the course of the year. The information from the W-9 is used by the contractor/freelancer to fill in and submit the 1099 to the IRS.
No taxes are withheld by a company for contract and freelance work. Instead, individuals/firms make quarterly tax payments based on their estimated annual tax liability. You’ll receive money back from the IRS if you’ve overpaid over the year. The 1099 is only a record of how much money you’ve earned on a contract/freelance basis and does not record of how much tax you’ve paid.

DOWNLOAD THE W-2 FORM HERE

Fill in the W2 Form Online

For employers, the W2 form is just another part of the process involved with helping employees accurately declare personal income tax for the year. These forms are often best filled out online, as this minimises mistakes and allows you to email or fax them directly from the website.

What is a W2 Form?

This is a wage and text statement which is completed by the employer and given to the employee so that they can successfully complete their tax returns. There is quite a bit of information that needs to be filled in and the best, and possibly easiest, way to do this is by using an online form. The W2 form includes information about wages and other taxes that the company is withholding from the employee’s wages.

Other information that will need to be filled in includes the employee's personal information, such as their legal names, their address, their social security number, and their ID. These forms need to be completely accurate and should the wrong information be filled in, there could be problems down the road for both the employer and their employee.

The W2 form is far simpler than most other tax forms, which is a bonus when considering just how many tax forms need to be completed each year. In order to quickly and correctly fill out the form, you’ll need to make sure that the information is close at hand and luckily most of the information you’ll need can be pulled directly from payroll.

Some of the details which will need to be filled in include:
  • The business’ legal name
  • The address of the business
  • The Employer Identification Number
  • The State ID Number
  • Basic employee information
  • A control number

How to Complete the IRS W2 Form

The W2 form is quite simply laid out making it very easy to complete. The form has numbered boxes that are pretty much self-explanatory and seeing as this is the most common tax form, most people already know their way around it. Like we said before, if you have the information close at hand, you can have this form filled out in minutes, especially if you are using an online editing program like PaperJet.

There are about 20 boxes of information that will need to be complete and if you are worried about making a mistake, it is probably best to do it online rather than wasting paper. While talking about mistakes, the most common issues with these forms are related to the forms being filled in by hand. Only black ink can be used and often those filling it in will either write too big, too small or too lightly, leading to the forms being sent back and the process delayed. This issue can easily be avoided by opting to complete it online.

The easiest way to complete the W2 form is by using our PDF converter. Our converting software is really simple to use and will ensure that you fill out all of your forms neatly and on time.

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