Your Form W-2 impacts your federal and state tax filings. It’s therefore imperative that you get your W-2 on time. But what is a W-2? When should you receive it? How do you read a W-2? And what should you do if you find an error on your W-2? Read on for answers.
IRS Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, is used by employers to report employees’ annual wages/salaries, taxes withheld, and other compensation. Your employer must:
Your employer has until January 31 to distribute W-2s (for the prior year) to employees. If the deadline falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, your employer must furnish W-2s by the next business day. Employers that provide online access to W-2s must do so by January 31. Those that don’t supply online access must mail or hand-deliver W-2s no later than January 31. If don’t receive your W-2 by the deadline, let your employer know so they can resolve the issue.
Though your W-2 is essentially about how much money you earned and the amount of taxes you paid, it’s also a detailed document. It shows, for instance, your retirement plan contributions, the amount your employer paid for your health insurance, and nontaxable income you received from your employer.
Here’s a breakdown of relevant W-2 boxes:
Tips you reported (to your employer) that were subject to Social Security tax. This amount is also reflected in Box 1 wages.
You’re a statutory employee
You contributed to your employer’s retirement plan
You received third-party sick pay
If you see a mistake on your W-2 — such as incorrect name, incorrect Social Security Number, incorrect wages, or incorrect taxes withheld — let your employer know as soon as possible. Depending on the error, your employer may need to give you a corrected W-2 via Form W-2c, which you can then use to amend your tax returns if necessary. Having trouble getting your employer to correct your W-2?