What is IRS form W-2?

IRS form W-2

Form W-2, also known as the Wage and Tax Statement, is the document employers are required by U.S. law to send to each employee and the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at the end of the calendar year. A W-2 reports employees' annual wages and the amount of federal, state, and other taxes withheld from the employee’s paycheck. Employees use this form to file their U.S. federal and state taxes.

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How do you get a W-2 form?

The most efficient way to obtain a copy of your current year Form W-2 is through your employer. Your employer submits Form W-2 to the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA). After SSA processes it, they transmit the federal tax information to the IRS.

You can get a wage and income transcript, containing the Federal tax information your employer reported to the Social Security Administration (SSA), by visiting the IRS’s Get Your Tax Record page. Refer to other IRS resources such as Transcript Types and Ways to Order Them and About Tax Transcripts for more information. Wage and income transcripts are available for up to 10 years but current tax year information may not be complete until July. This transcript doesn't include any state or local tax information reported by your employer to SSA on Form W-2.

Do employers have to mail W-2 forms to their employees? When are they due?

W-2 statements can be sent in either paper or digital form and must be received by employees no later than January 31 of the following year.

What happens if you have two W-2 forms from different employers?

If you work for multiple employers at the same time, or for different employers at various times throughout the year, you may have multiple W-2s, all of which must be included when filing your taxes. If you worked more than one job during the previous year, you must wait until you receive every W-2 form in order to file your taxes.

What happens if you don’t receive a W-2 form?

The majority of employers will send you a message with a link to an online portal where you can securely download the form. Contact your employer first to find out how they sent out your W-2 form and how you can access it. If it was mailed to an incorrect address, your employer can issue you an additional copy directly.

If your employer truly never issued your W-2, then you should contact the IRS directly. Note that the IRS recommends contacting your employer first and waiting until the end of February to see if your W-2 arrives before getting the agency involved. After that point, if you still do not have your W-2, you can call the IRS toll-free at (800) 829-1040. The IRS will contact your employer on your behalf to request the missing form and remind the employer of the penalties for failing to issue Form W-2.

If IRS intervention doesn't produce the form you need, you are still required to file by the tax deadline to avoid penalties. In this case, you should fill out Form 4852.  Form 4852 is a substitute for Form W-2 that taxpayers can complete if they haven't received a W-2, or their employer issued an incorrect W-2.

If you receive a W-2 or order a Wage and Income Transcript after filing your tax return and the information you receive is different from what you reported on your tax return, you may need to amend your tax return.

Can a W-2 form be filled out by hand?

Yes, however be advised that W-2 Forms are read by machine. This means that handwritten, script, or italicized fonts and entries made in anything other than black ink cannot be read. In addition, employers must take care to make all dollar entries without the dollar sign and comma but with the decimal point (00000.00).

What’s the difference between a W2 form and a 1099?

A 1099-MISC is a tax form used by employers to report payments made to independent contractors (who cover their own employment taxes). A W-2 form is used by employers to report compensation made to employees (whose employer withholds payroll taxes from their earnings).

Does the W-2 form only apply to U.S. citizens working for U.S. companies?

Whether the U.S. rules for withholding and reporting on income apply to compensation paid to foreign employees working abroad depends on the residency status of the employee.

  • U.S. citizens and green-card holders who work abroad for U.S. companies remain subject to U.S. payroll taxes and Form W-2 income reporting.
  • Substantially present residents remain subject to these rules if they are not away long enough to become nonresident aliens.
  • Nonresident employees performing services abroad are not subject to U.S. withholding because the source of income from services is where the services are performed (not where payment is made).

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