Form W-2: Wage and Tax Statement reports your wages and the taxes withheld from them. Your employer is required to give you a 2012 W-2 by Jan. 31, 2013. Your employer keeps a copy for recordkeeping.
A copy of your W-2 is sent to:
Social Security Administration (SSA)
State or local governments for which taxes are withheld
You’ll refer to some of the W-2 boxes to complete your return. Some W-2 boxes are for informational purposes only.
Box a: Employee's Social Security number -- If the number is incorrect due to a typographical error:
Report it to your employer immediately
Get a corrected W-2
All payments withheld from your wages are credited under the Social Security number (SSN) shown. If your employer entered your SSN into the payroll system incorrectly, he or she must fix this. An incorrect SSN means your payments aren't credited to you for these purposes:
Box b: Employer’s federal ID number -- This is your employer's identification number with the IRS. It’s the equivalent of your SSN or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). This number must be valid and match the IRS's records if you want to e-file your return.
Box c: Employer's name, address and ZIP code -- If you work for a corporation, this is usually the address of the main office or headquarters. It’s not necessarily the building where you work.
Boxes e and f: Employee's name and address -- Your full name and current address
Box 1: Wages, tips, and other compensation -- The taxable amount of compensation your employer paid you. This includes:
Enter the amount in this box on Forms 1040 and 1040A, line 7, or Form 1040EZ, line 1.
Box 2: Federal income tax withheld -- The total amount of federal income tax your employer withheld from your wages. Enter the amount in this box on:
Form 1040, line 62
Form 1040A, line 36
Form 1040EZ, line 7
Box 3: Social Security wages -- The amount of earnings your employer paid you subject to Social Security tax. This doesn’t include tips. This amount might be more than the amount in box 1 if some income subject to Social Security tax isn’t subject to income tax. Ex: Amounts you contribute to a tax-deferred retirement plan like a 401(k) or a 403(b) plan.
For 2012, the total of boxes 3 and 7 shouldn't be more than $113,700.
Box 4: Social Security tax withheld -- The amount of Social Security tax withheld on your wages. For 2012, this amount can't be more than $7,049. This amount should equal 6.2% of the amount in box 3. This is due to the payroll tax holiday in effect for 2011 and 2012.
You might have worked for more than one employer and the total withheld is more than $7,049. If so, the excess is treated as a tax payment. This payment will increase your refund or decrease your balance due. See Form 1040, line 69.
Box 5: Medicare wages and tips -- The total amount of earnings your employer paid you subject to Medicare tax. There’s no limit on the amount of wages that might be subject to Medicare tax.
Box 6: Medicare tax withheld -- The amount of Medicare tax withheld on your wages. This amount should equal 1.45% of the amount in box 5.
Box 7: Social Security tips -- This lists the tips you received that you reported to your employer. Box 7 and box 3 combined are used to figure the Social Security and Medicare tax you owe on tips you didn't report to your employer.
Box 8: Allocated tips -- The amount of tips your employer allocated to you. This amount is in addition to the amount you reported, which is in box 7. The allocation is usually based on credit card receipts and IRS formulas.
If you have an amount in this box, you might need to complete Form 4137 to pay these taxes on the amount:
Social Security tax
You usually must include the amount in taxable wages, box 8 on your return. To learn when you might not need to report this amount, see Publication 531.
Box 10: Dependent care benefits -- The amount of your wages used to pay for dependent care expenses under a Section 125 plan. This is also known as:
Flexible spending arrangement
This amount isn’t included in box 1. File Form 2441 to see if any part of this amount is taxable.
Box 11: Nonqualified plans -- The total payments you received from your employer's nonqualified retirement plan. This amount is included in box 1 and is taxable.
Boxes 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d -- These boxes are used for various reporting purposes. Some of the letter codes and their meanings include:
A -- Social Security tax your employer couldn't withhold since there wasn't enough tip income to cover the tax. Include this amount in the total you enter on Form 1040, line 60.
B -- Medicare tax your employer couldn't withhold since there wasn't enough tip income to cover the tax. Include this amount in the total you enter on Form 1040, line 60.
D -- Pre-tax contributions to an employer's 401(k) plan. This amount isn't included in box 1 and isn't taxable to you. However, if you worked for more than one employer, you might be taxed on a portion of this amount. To learn more, see Publication 525.
E -- Pre-tax contributions to an employer's tax-sheltered annuity plan. This amount isn't included in box 1 and isn't taxable to you. However, if you worked for more than one employer, you might be taxed on a portion of this amount. To learn more, see Publication 525.
F -- Pre-tax contributions to an employer's salary-reduction Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan. This amount isn't included in box 1 and isn't taxable to you. However, if you worked for more than one employer, you might be taxed on a portion of this amount. To learn more, see Publication 525.
G -- Pre-tax contributions to an employer's Section 457(b) retirement plan. This amount isn't included in box 1 and isn't taxable to you. However, if you worked for more than one employer, you might be taxed on a portion of this amount. To learn more, see Publication 525.
J -- Amount of sick pay not taxable since you contributed to the plan.
K -- 20% excise tax on excess golden parachute payments. To learn more, see Total Tax in the Form 1040 Instructions.
L -- Amount of substantiated employee business expense reimbursements. This amount is nontaxable to you. If you're deducting expenses more than this amount, complete Form 2106.
M -- Former employees only. Uncollected Social Security or railroad retirement benefits on taxable cost of group-term life insurance over $50,000.
N -- Former employees only. Uncollected Medicare tax on taxable cost of group-term life insurance over $50,000.
P -- Amount of moving expense reimbursement paid to the employee. This amount is neither taxable nor deductible. It isn’t included in boxes 1, 3, or 5.
Q -- Amount of nontaxable military combat pay. Treat this amount as earned income for these purposes:
Earned Income Credit (EIC)
Additional child tax credit
R -- Employer contributions to your Archer medical savings account (MSA). Report it on Form 8853.
S -- Pre-tax contributions to an employer's SIMPLE plan. This amount isn't included in box 1 and isn't taxable to you. However, if you worked for more than one employer, you might be taxed on a portion of this amount.
T -- Adoption benefits not included in box 1. Complete Form 8839 to figure any taxable and nontaxable amounts.
V -- Income from exercise of nonstatutory stock options included in boxes 1, 3 (up to Social Security wage base), and 5. For reporting requirements, see Publication 525 and the instructions for Schedule D.
W -- Employer contributions you report on Form 8889. Include amounts you contributed using these:
Section 125 (cafeteria plan)
Health savings account (HSA)
Y -- Deferrals under a section 409(A) nonqualified deferred compensation plan. This amount is also included in box 1. It’s subject to an additional 20% tax plus interest.
AA -- Designated Roth IRA contributions under a Section 401(k) plan
BB -- Designated Roth IRA contributions under a Section 403(b) plan
DD -- Cost of employer-sponsored health coverage. This amount isn’t taxable.
EE -- Designated Roth IRA contributions under a governmental Section 457(b) plan.
To learn more, see Publication 525: Taxable and Nontaxable Income at www.irs.gov.
Box 13: Statutory employee, retirement plan, third-party sick pay -- One of the boxes will be checked if it applies to you:
Statutory employee -- If you're a statutory employee, your W-2 should show Social Security and Medicare tax withheld. No federal or state taxes should be withheld.
Retirement plan -- If you're considered to be a participant in a qualified employer retirement plan, this box will be checked. This is true whether or not you contribute to the plan. If this box is checked, your deductible IRA contributions might be limited.
Third-party sick pay -- If you received payments for sick pay from a third-party provider, this box will be checked. Premiums paid by your employer will be taxable to you. Amounts paid from your own contributions won't be taxable.
Box 14: Other -- This is used by your employer to provide you with additional information. It might or might not affect your return. Items commonly reported in this box include:
United Way contributions
Health insurance premiums deducted
Educational assistance programs
Tier I and Tier II railroad retirement contributions
Lease value of vehicle provided to an employee
State disability insurance tax withheld
After-tax contributions to 401(k) plans -- but not designated Roth IRA contributions
Wages from disposing of stock acquired by exercising incentive stock options (ISO)
Box 15: State -- This includes:
Postal abbreviation of the state for which taxes were withheld
Employer's state identification number
Box 16: State wages, tips, etc. -- The amount of your wages subject to state tax. This amount might differ from the amount shown in box 1.
Box 17: State income tax -- The amount of tax withheld for the state in box 15
Box 18: Local wages, tips, etc. -- The amount of your wages subject to local income tax. This amount might differ from the amount shown in box 1 or box 16.
Box 19: Local income tax -- The amount of tax withheld for the locality in box 20. This amount is entered on the appropriate line of your local return.
Box 20: Locality name -- The description of the place -- like a city or town -- that also withheld taxes.