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What is a W-2 Form and How Does it Work?

pink marker checking a W 2 form

Did you know that 66% of taxpayers get a federal refund? The only way to know if you are entitled to a refund is to file your taxes.

Before you can file, though, you need your forms. One of the most important and most common is the W-2 form. If you’re not sure what the W-2 is, then keep reading.

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know.

What Is a W-2 Form?

The W-2 is a form provided by the IRS for employers. It shows the employee’s gross earnings for the year. It also records their Social Security earnings, Medicare earnings, and any federal or state taxes that were withheld from the employee’s earnings.

What’s Its Purpose?

The whole point of the form is to ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to reporting income to the IRS. This form is why employers keep careful track of the time you work and the total amount you get paid for your work.

The form tells the employee what they need to report. It also ensures that the IRS and Social Security Administration are on the same page.

Parts of the W-2 Explained

There are many parts to the W-2 that each goes to a different recipient.

  • Copy A- the Social Security Administration’s copy
  • Copy B- for the employee’s tax filing
  • Copy C- for the employee’s records
  • Copy D- for the employer’s records
  • Copy 1- for the city, state, or locality
  • Copy 2- a second copy for the city, state, or locality

Where Do You Get a W-2?

This is not a tax form that you can print from the internet. Your employer must use special paper and be an official form.

As an employee, the only place you can get your W-2 form is your employer. Since they are the only one who can prepare it, they are the only one who can send it to you.

Employers can use online services such as The PayStubs to prepare their employee’s W-2 forms.

When Is the W-2 Due?

Employers must file their W-2 forms with the IRS by January 31st of the following year that the W-2 is for. So if your W-2 is for 2018, the deadline was January 31, 2019.

Employers must also get a copy of the W-2 to their employees by the end of January.

What If There Is a Mistake?

Do not take for granted that your employer got all of the information on your W-2 correct. Mistakes happen, and they can happen on your W-2.

If you notice a decimal in the wrong place or the wrong box checked, you need to notify your employer right away.

Obtain Your W-2

If its January then you don’t need to worry about getting your W-2. If you don’t have it by the 31st, then you can ask your employer for it.

Once you have your W-2 form, you can prepare your tax forms for the previous year. Be sure to submit them by April 15th, so you don’t incur any fines.

Protecting yourself is more than getting your taxes right. Do you know these four things about health and safety in the workplace?

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