Tax season is the time of the year when every individual, employer, self-employed person, business entity, etc., is gearing up to file their tax returns. The next stage of the tax filing is waiting for the rebates and refunds you claimed in your tax return. And the wait is only worth it if you have filed your tax return accurately and claimed the right rebates and credits.
It means that filing the tax return is the first step you have to pay attention to.
Form W-2 is the most important document you must have by your side when sitting to file your annual tax returns. Many people use pay stubs to get an estimation of their wages, withholding taxes, and other tax-related figures. However, Form W-2 is the official document the employed individuals have to refer to when filing their tax documents.
We have curated an ultimate guide to help you know what Form W-2 is, what information it contains, how many copies you need, and how you can request your Form W-2 from your current or previous employer. So let’s get into it.
- Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, contains all the information related to the income, withholding taxes, and other deductions from an individual working for a business entity or any employer.
- Every employer must file Form W-2 for his employee to whom he has paid remuneration for the year, including non-cash payments of $600 or more against the services taken from the employee.
- The Wages and Tax Statement is the employer’s legal obligation, and he must file it for all employees who have been providing him services for a tax year.
- The employers must send the Form W-2 to their employees by January 31st, 2023.
- The employers have the option to send hard copies of the Form via mail or make the Form available online.
- The employees can request the employer, SSA, or IRS to get copies of W-2 if they haven’t received the Form or lost it.
What Is Form W-2?
Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, contains all the information related to the income, withholding taxes, and other deductions of an individual working for a business entity or any employer. In general, the Form is a detailed overview of the money an employee earned during a tax year, the amount of tax withheld by the employer, and other related information.
Unlike common belief, filing Form W-2 is not required by all tax filers. Instead, it is a necessary document for employed individuals only. If you’re self-employed, you must file Form 1099 to report your income and tax withheld.
IRS defines Form W-2 as follows:
Every employer must file Form W-2 for his employee to whom he has paid remuneration for the year, including non-cash payments of $600 or more against the services taken from the employee. The employer must include all the amounts from which the income, social security, or medicare tax was held.
The employers are bound to file the form W-2 even if the employee is related to them. The Form W-2 must be filed for every employee from whom:
- Employer withheld income tax, social security tax, and Medicare tax.
- The employer would withhold income tax if the employee had not claimed more than one withholding allowance or had not claimed exemption from withholding on his Form W-4.
Who Files Form W-2?
Many employees who have just started their job are often confused about who has to file the Form W-2 and what information they might need to provide to fill Form W-2. So it is important to answer who files Form W-2.
The Wages and Tax Statement is the employer’s legal obligation, and he must file it for all employees who have been providing him services for a tax year. Every employer must provide the employees with their Form W-2 before January 31st of a tax year. It makes it convenient for the employees to file their income taxes before the deadlines.
The employer has to provide one copy of Form W-2 to the employee. The Form W-2 also has to be filed by the employer with Social Security Administration(SSA). The employers have the option to file the Form electronically or via mail.
What Information Does Form W-2 Contain?
If we talk about the content of Form W-2, the Form contains the following information:
- Employer’s information(EIN, Name, address, etc.)
- Employee’s information(name, address, Zip code)
- Numeric fields from 1-20 contain information about the wages, income, bonuses, etc., and the federal income tax withheld.
How Many Form W-2s Does An Employee Need?
The employer must send copies of Form W-2 and W-3 to the employees before January 31st. Copy 1 of the Form has to be furnished to the state, city, or local tax department, if applicable. Copy B, C, and Copy 2 are sent to the employees before January 31st. Copy D of the Form has to be retained by the employer. Therefore, the total number of copies an employee will receive from his employer is three.
How To Request Your Form W-2 From Employer?
The employees are not required to request Form W-2 from their employers. The employer’s legal duty is to provide the employees with the copy by hand or mail before January 31st of every year. If you haven’t received your Form after the deadline has passed, you should contact your employer to inquire about the status of the Form W-2. The best way to request your Form W-2 from the employer is to contact the HR department of your company and inquire about the Form.
How To Find Your Form W-2 Online?
Although many employers will mail Form W-2 and W-3 to their employees, some big companies prefer to make Form W-2 available online for their employees. The employees can find their Form W-2 online on their company’s online systems, HR systems, etc. If your employers adopt the practice of making Form W-2 available online, you should wait until January 31st to get your Form.
Didn’t Receive Your Form W-2?
In some cases, the employees might not receive the Form W-2 from their employer or get lost. Suppose there are any circumstances when you haven’t received your Form W-2 from the employer. In that case, you can try getting copies of your Federal Form W-2 or copies of old federal tax returns & get an estimation of your income, wages, etc.
For copies of the current tax year’s Federal Form W-2, you can try any of the following methods:
- The first and preferred method is to get in touch with your employer and request him a new copy of your Form W-2.
- The second option is to contact the Social Security Administration(SSA) as your employer had filed the Form W-2 with SSA.
- The third option is visiting the IRS to get a transcript or copy of your Form.
However, the fastest and most legit method to obtain your Form W-2 or its copies is from your employer.
How can I get my Form W-2?
You don’t have to do much to get your Form W-2. Your employer or company must file the Form W-2 with SSA, create copies of the Form, and provide the employees with the copies within the prescribed time limit. If your employer sends the Form via mail, make sure to check your mailbox frequently and have an eye on the mailbox so that no unauthorized person can access your confidential information.
Can I get a transcript or copy of Form W-2, Wage, and Tax Statement, from the IRS?
Yes, you can request IRS to get a transcript or copy of your Wage and Tax Statement. IRS has the income transcripts for tax filers for up to 10 tax years. However, the tax information for the running tax year is never completed before July. Therefore, if you’re expecting to get a transcript for the previous year, it will be easier and more convenient.
Another thing that is important to know about the transcripts from IRS is that these forms do not contain information regarding any state or local taxes the employer reported to the SSA.
What do I do if I lose my W-2?
If you lost your Form W-2, you could request your employer to provide you with a new copy of the Form W-2. Besides, you can also opt to contact SSA or IRS to get copies and transcripts of your Wages and Tax Statement for tax filing purposes.
When Should Employer Send You Form W-2?
IRS requires every employer to complete and file the Form W-2 before January 31st. The same deadline is set for employers to send copies of Form W-2 to their employees via mail or electronically. Therefore, every employer should abide by the deadlines to make tax filing timely and easier for the employees.