Form W-2 is a crucial tax document issued by employers to their employees. It summarizes the employee's annual income earned from the employer and the federal income taxes, Social Security, and Medicare taxes withheld from their paychecks throughout the year.
The employer electronically submits a copy of the W-2 to the IRS and also provides a copy to the employee for their tax filing purposes.
Note: Make sure your employees fill out and submit Form W-4 so you have the necessary information to complete the W-2 accurately.
Who can file Form W-2?
Responsibility for filing Form W-2 falls solely on the employer's shoulders.
Employers use W-2 forms to report two key things:
Employee income and taxes withheld: This includes details like total wages earned, federal income taxes deducted, and Social Security and Medicare taxes (FICA) withheld.
Social Security contributions: The W-2 helps the Social Security Administration (SSA) track employee's earnings and contributions, ultimately determining their future Social Security benefits.
Every employee who received salary, wages, or any other form of compensation from their employer throughout the year will get a W-2 form. This is mandatory for full-time, part-time, and even temporary workers. However, Form W-2 is not applicable to independent contractors and self-employed individuals.
When is the Form W-2 due date?
Employers must file Form W-2 with the SSA by January 31st of the following year. This means the January 31st, 2024 deadline is for reporting employee income and taxes from 2023.
E-file today and avoid the deadline rush!
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Let's see line-by-line instructions on how to fill out Form W-2.
Box b: Enter the business EIN
Box b: Enter the business EIN
Box d: Enter the control number. It's a unique number, used by many employers to internally track and organize their W-2 forms. It's not required by the IRS
Box a: Enter the employee's SSN
Box e: Enter the employee's first name and initial, last name, and suffix in the respective fields
Box f: Enter the employee's address and zip code
Box 1: Wages, tips, other compensation
Box 1 should include the total wages, tips, bonuses, prizes, and other taxable compensation paid to the employee during the year. DO NOT include pre-tax deductions like 401(k) contributions. Key things to include:
Total wages, bonuses, prizes, and awards
Noncash fringe benefits
Reimbursed employee business expenses
Insurance premiums for 2% S-corp shareholders
Employee contributions to HSAs and MSAs
Group-term life insurance over $50,000
Non-job related educational assistance
Employer-paid social security and Medicare taxes
Roth 401(k) contributions
Nonqualified deferred compensation distributions
Amounts includible under section 457(f)
Split-dollar life insurance payments Insurance premiums for 2% S-corp shareholders
HSA contributions if taxable to employee
409A deferred comp no longer subject to risk of forfeiture
Nonqualified moving expenses and reimbursements
Payments to employees on active military duty
Other taxable compensation like scholarships
Box 2: Federal income tax withheld
Report the total federal income tax withheld from the employee's wages for the year. This includes:
Federal income tax withholding
20% excise tax withheld on excess golden parachute payments.
Box 3: Social security wages
Report total wages subject to social security tax, not including social security tips. Generally include:
Wages paid before deductions
Reimbursed employee expenses
Elective deferrals to retirement plans
Designated Roth contributions
Deferrals under section 457(f) and nonqualified plans
Group-term life insurance over $50K
Accident/health insurance for 2% S-corp shareholders
Contributions to MSAs and HSAs
Do not include social security tips reported in Box 7. The total of Boxes 3 and 7 cannot exceed the social security wage base ($160,200 in 2023).
If you paid the employee share of social security tax, report the gross amount.
Box 4: Social security tax withheld
Report the total social security tax withheld from the employee's wages and tips.
This includes employee social security tax only, not the employer share
The maximum amount in 2023 is $9,932.40 ($160,200 x 6.2%)
Only include social security tax on 2023 wages and tips
Report gross wages in Box 3 if you paid the employee share.
Box 5: Medicare wages and tips
Report total Medicare wages and tips. This includes:
All wages and tips subject to social security tax (boxes 3 and 7)
There is no wage base limit for Medicare tax
Enter tips that employees reported even if you couldn't collect Medicare tax on them
If you paid the employee Medicare tax, report the gross amount of wages.
For government employers with employees who pay only Medicare tax, enter Medicare wages in box 5
Box 6: Medicare tax withheld
Report the total Medicare tax withheld from the employee's wages and tips.
Include only the employee's share of Medicare tax, not the employer's share
Include any Additional Medicare Tax withheld
Only include Medicare tax for 2023 wages and tips
Do not include any Medicare tax paid by the employer. Report the gross wages in Box 5 if you paid the employee's share.
Box 7: Social security tips
Report tips that the employee reported to you, even if you didn't collect social security tax on them.
Include all tips the employee reported
The total of boxes 3 and 7 cannot exceed $160,200 (the 2023 social security wage base)
Also report these tips in box 1 along with wages
Include tips from box 7 in the Medicare wages reported in box 5 share.
Box 8: Allocated tips
Report allocated tips for employees at large food/beverage establishments.
Only includes tips allocated by the employer, not reported directly by the employee
Do not include allocated tips in boxes 1, 3, 5 or 7
Allocated tips are reported on Form 8027
Box 10: Dependent care benefits
Report total dependent care benefits provided to the employee under a dependent care assistance program (section 129).
Fair market value of employer-sponsored daycare
Amounts paid or reimbursed for dependent care under a section 125 cafeteria plan
Value of in-kind benefits provided by the employer
Amounts paid directly to a daycare facility
Report all amounts paid, including those above the $5,000 exclusion.
Also include any dependent care benefits over the exclusion limit in boxes 1, 3, and 5 as wages.
Box 11: Nonqualified plans
Report distributions to the employee from a nonqualified deferred compensation plan or nongovernmental section 457(b) plan.
This helps the SSA determine if any part of box 1, 3, or 5 was earned in a prior year.
Also report these distributions in box 1.
Only make one entry in box 11
Do not report governmental 457(b) plan distributions here. Use Form 1099-R instead.
Report deferrals that are no longer subject to risk of forfeiture in boxes 3 and 5, not box 11.
Do not report current year deferrals or deferrals already in boxes 3/5.
Box 12: Codes
Report codes and amounts for all applicable items listed below. The codes do not correspond to boxes 12a–12d on Form W-2.
Use box 12 to report any items A through HH
Do not report section 414(h)(2) govt plan contributions here — use box 14 instead
Also use box 14 for other information like union dues, uniform payments, etc.
Codes for Box 12:
Uncollected social security tax on tips
Uncollected Medicare tax on tips
Taxable cost of group-term life insurance over $50,000
Elective deferrals to 401(k) plan
Elective deferrals under 409A nonqualified plan
Elective deferrals to 408(k)(6) SARSEP plan
Elective deferrals and employer contributions to 457(b) plan
Elective deferrals to 501(c)(18)(D) tax-exempt plan
Nontaxable sick pay
20% excise tax on excess golden parachute payments
Substantiated employee business expense reimbursements
Uncollected social security tax on taxable cost of group-term life insurance over $50,000
Uncollected Medicare tax on taxable cost of group-term life insurance over $50,000
Excludable moving expense reimbursements paid directly to employee
Nontaxable combat pay
Employer contributions to Archer MSA
Employee salary reduction contributions to 409A nonqualified plan
Income from exercise of nonstatutory stock option(s)
Employer contributions to Health Savings Account
Deferrals under section 409A nonqualified plan
Income under section 409A on a nonqualified deferred compensation plan
Designated Roth contributions under 401(k) plan
Designated Roth contributions under 403(b) plan
Cost of employer-sponsored health coverage
Designated Roth contributions under governmental 457(b) plan
Permitted benefits under a qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangement
Income from qualified equity grants under section 83(i)
Aggregate deferrals under section 83(i) elections as of the close of the calendar year
Box 13: Checkboxes
Check all boxes that apply:
Check this if the worker is a statutory employee (not a common-law employee)
Applies to certain drivers, insurance agents, home workers, traveling salespeople
Statutory employees have social security/Medicare tax but no income tax withholding
Check this if the employee was covered by a retirement plan such as:
401(k), 403(b), SEP, or SIMPLE plans
Section 501(c)(18) trusts
Generally applies if employee was eligible to participate or had contributions
Do not check for nonqualified or 457(b) plans
Third-party sick pay:
Check this only if reporting sick pay paid by a third party
Applies if you are the third party payer or the employer reporting third party sick pay
Box 14: Other
Report 100% of annual lease value of vehicle included in employee's income
Use this box to report any other information to the employee, such as:
State disability insurance tax withheld
Health insurance premiums deducted
Minister's housing allowance
Pension plan contributions:
Nonelective employer contributions
Voluntary after-tax employee contributions
Required employee contributions
Employer matching contributions
Boxes 15 through 20: State and local income tax information
Used to report state and local income tax information
Enter two-letter state abbreviation in box 15
Enter state employer ID number assigned by the state in box 16
Report state wages in box 16
Report state income tax withheld in box 17
Can report info for up to 2 states and 2 localities
Keep each state/locality separated by the broken line
For more than 2 states/localities, use a second Form W-2
How to file Form W-2?
You have two options: efficient e-filing or traditional paper filing.
Form W-2 E-filing (recommended)
The IRS recommends e-filing your W-2s for a faster and simpler experience. Plus, you'll get instant notifications when they're processed.
Choosing an IRS-authorized e-file provider like TaxZerone makes it even easier. With just a few clicks, you can fill out your W-2s, review and submit, and share recipient copies.
It's that quick and easy! Choose e-filing for a smooth and efficient W-2 filing experience.
If you choose to paper-file Form W-2, here are the steps you need to follow:
Download and print Form W-2 from the IRS website.
Fill out recipient details (name, address, SSN, compensation) and your business info.
Mail the completed form to the SSA.
Don't forget! Mail a copy to each recipient by January 31st.
Important notes for paper filing:
Mail early! Allow several weeks for forms to arrive on time.
Always send a copy to each recipient for their tax reporting.
Paper filing involves printing, mailing, and tracking forms. E-filing is faster, cheaper, and simpler!
Where to send Form W-2 - Mailing address
Send Form W-2 and W-3 to the address below:
By U. S. Postal Service
Social Security Administration Direct Operations Center Wilkes-Barre, PA 18769-0001
By Private Delivery Service (FedEx, UPS, etc.)
Social Security Administration Direct Operations Center Attn: W-2 Process 1150 E. Mountain Drive Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702-7997
How to e-file Form W-2?
E-filing your Form W-2 takes just 3 steps! To make it even faster, gather all the necessary information (like employee details and compensation amounts) before you start. That way, you can zip through the filing process in no time.
Information required to file Form W-2:
Employer information, such as name, address, and EIN.
Employee information, such as name, address, and SSN.
Wages paid and taxes withheld
Once you have this information ready, you can follow the steps below to e-file Form W-2 using TaxZerone.
Step 1: Fill out Form W-2
Step 2: Review & transmit the return
Step 3: Send the recipient copy
E-file Form W-2 with TaxZerone
When you choose to e-file Form W-2 with TaxZerone, you can:
IRS form validations: catch any errors before you submit.
Bulk upload: Upload multiple returns and finish in a flash.
Effortless, efficient, and affordable e-filing awaits you.
TaxZerone® is an IRS-authorized e-file service provider that helps businesses and individuals file multiple IRS forms, such as excise, employment tax, extension, information returns, and tax-exempt forms, easily and securely.