Form W-2: Everything you need to know about this form


Nearly every employee working in the U.S. should receive a Form W-2, but not everyone knows what it is. For many, the information on Form W-2 may seem foreign and complex. But don’t worry if you’re not sure what’s on this document. We’re here to help you make sense of it all.

Read on to learn more about the W-2 tax form, how to understand what’s on the W-2, and what you should do with your W-2 tax statement.

What is a W-2?

Are you wondering, “What is a W-2?” Simply stated, the IRS Form W-2 is a wage and tax statement that reports your wages and the taxes withheld from your wages. However, if you’ve ever looked at a W-2 form, you’ll notice that it has several lines of information and lots of boxes and codes on it.

There’s a lot to unpack where form W-2 is concerned. So, whether you just want an overview or a deep dive, we’re here to help you understand your W-2 form.

When do you get your W-2?

Form W-2Your employer is required to give you a Form W-2 by Jan. 31 each calendar year.  Plus, a copy of your W-2 form is sent to:

  • Social Security Administration (SSA)
  • IRS
  • State or local governments for which taxes are withheld

Understanding your IRS W-2 form

As mentioned, there are a lot of codes and boxes on a W-2 form, which makes it difficult for some to read. If you’re looking for a breakdown, check out this post on of W-2 box codes or a deep dive into W-2, box 12.

Don’t want to go line-by-line? Check out this quick overview of items on the W-2. It covers:

  • Your personal and employer information – This type of W2 form information includes tax identification numbers, addresses, etc.
  • Money and taxes related to your wages – This includes your actual income, federal income taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes. This is the part most people think of regarding an IRS W-2 form.
  • Money and taxes related to your benefits – This includes retirement plans, insurance plans, dependent care benefits, and health savings accounts. Amounts for these items may not appear on your Form W-2 if your employer doesn’t offer these benefits.
  • Money and taxes for your state and local returns – The W-2 form should also include income and tax withholding information for your home state and any state where you worked as an employee, as well as local tax information if there are any that apply to your wages.
  • Payment information for other items paid through your wages – Some common examples include union dues, sick leave, tuition assistance, charitable giving, and certain fringe benefits.

Get additional guidance on how to read a W-2.

What to do with your W-2 form

Whether you file on your own or get help from a tax pro, you’ll need your W-2 to start the process. Many of the amounts will go on your federal tax return or state tax return. Plus, if you’re filing by mail, a paper copy of your Form W-2 will be sent with your other documents.

Help with the W-2 tax form

In this post, we covered multiple subjects related to the W-2 tax form, including, “What is a W-2 form?” and what the components of the form include. Need hands-on guidance as you read your W-2 tax form? Find a tax office nearest you to get personalized help.

Explore the many ways to file with H&R Block.

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