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Formswift: Customize our fillable W-2 form template

Take charge of your tax journey with the invaluable insights provided by the W-2 form. Ensure accurate reports, take control of your finances, and experience peace of mind. All you need to get started is the right template.

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What’s a W-2 form?

A W-2 form is a crucial document that summarizes an employee's earnings and tax withholdings for a specific tax year in the United States. Also known as the Wage and Tax Statement, it provides a comprehensive snapshot of your income and serves as a foundation for accurate tax reporting.

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Why are W-2 forms important?

W-2 forms help employees and employers accurately fulfill their tax obligations. For employees, the W-2 form acts as proof of income and helps them prep their income tax returns. Employers rely on it to report wage and salary information to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Please note: This form is only used for employees, and not self-employed independent contractors or freelancers.

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What information does a W-2 form include?

The tax filing process can feel like it’s taking forever if you don’t know what to include in a W-2 form. Let’s start by breaking it down, section by section.

The W-2 form includes your personal details, such as your name, address, and Social Security number. This information ensures you can be accurately identified—making tax reporting that little bit more seamless.

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This section covers your total wages and income earned during the tax year. It includes your salary, tips, bonuses, commissions, and other forms of compensation received from your employer.

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The W-2 form displays the amount of federal income tax that has been withheld from your earnings throughout the year. This helps determine your tax liability and whether you owe additional taxes or are entitled to a refund.

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If applicable, the form also includes information on state and local income tax withholdings. This varies depending on which state you work and live in.

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The W-2 form shows the amount of Social Security and Medicare taxes withheld from your wages. These taxes contribute to your eligibility for Social Security benefits and Medicare coverage.

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If you participate in a retirement plan funded by your employer, such as a 401(k), the W-2 form may indicate the amount you contributed to the plan during the tax year.

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Certain pre-tax deductions, such as health insurance premiums or contributions to a flexible spending account, may be included in this section. This helps provide a comprehensive overview of your taxable income.

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A few things to remember about a form W-2

When it comes to W-2 forms, attention to detail is key.

Take a moment to check your work

Ensure accurate calculations for taxes, spell names and addresses correctly, and enter ID numbers like the Social Security Number (SSN) flawlessly.

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Keep an eye on deadlines

Getting your tax forms to your employees and tax agencies on time is crucial. You must provide your employees with Copies B, C, and 2 of Form W-2 by January 31 each year.

Keep an eye on the IRS website for detailed information on specific deadlines based on the year or circumstances too.

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Send copies of your W-2 form to the right places
  • Copy A: Submit it to the SSA (Social Security Administration).
  • Copy 1: Send it to your state, city, or local tax department (check their website for specifics).
  • Copies B, C, and 2: Hand these over to your employees for their records.
  • Copy D: Keep it for at least four years as a record. Just in case.
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How do I fill out a form W-2?

The W-2 form may seem like a maze of boxes and blanks, but fear not. Armed with the knowledge gained from our earlier guide, you're ready to tackle this form like a pro—even if you're filling it out by hand.

Let's break it down.

Enter the employee's SSN. Accuracy is key here, as any missing or incorrect information can cause tax filing delays.

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Provide the business's EIN (Employer Identification Number).

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Time to include the employer's name, address, and zip code.

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Enter the control number assigned by your company's payroll processing system.

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Here, you'll list the employee's full name. Use the first box for their first name and middle initial, the second box for the last name, and the small box for any suffix.

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Record the employee's complete address, including city, state, and zip code.

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Now, let's tackle the numbered boxes

Box 1: List wages, tips, and other compensation paid to the employee, including hourly wages, salary, tips, and bonuses.

Box 2: Specify the amount withheld for federal income taxes.

Box 3: Report their social security wages.

Box 4: Document the Social Security tax withheld on behalf of the employee.

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Box 5: Enter the income amount eligible for the Medicare tax.

Box 6: Document the Medicare tax withheld.

Box 7: Record any tip income reported by the employee to the employer.

Box 8: Use this box for tip income assigned to the employee by the employer.

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Box 10: List any reimbursements for dependent care through a flex spending account, or paid directly to a provider or employee for dependent care expenses.


Box 11: Usually not applicable, but if needed, report compensation paid under non-qualified or non-government pension plans.

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Box 12: Specify any deferred compensation, such as savings or retirement plans.

Box 13: Check the appropriate boxes as instructed.

Box 14: Use this box to include any additional information that needs to be reported.

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Box 15: Enter the employer's state employer tax identification number. There's space to record data for up to two states per employee.

Box 16: List the total taxable wages earned in the state.

Box 17: Report the amount of state income tax withheld.

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Box 18: Record the number of wages subject to local, city, or other taxes.

Box 19: List the amount of local income tax withheld.

Box 20: Identify the locality or city where local taxes are paid.

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Frequently asked questions

If you’re an employee, it’s your employer’s responsibility to provide you with a W-2 form by January 31st of each calendar year. It’s important to receive this form promptly to ensure timely and accurate filing of your tax return.

Absolutely. You can find W-2 form templates online to e-file. However, ensure the template adheres to official IRS guidelines and captures all the necessary information accurately.

Try our W-2 form template today.

Failure to file or inaccurately report your W-2 information may result in penalties from the IRS. It's crucial to meet the filing requirements and report your income correctly to avoid potential consequences.

If you fail to file your W-2 forms before the January 31st deadline but submit it within the next 30 days, the IRS will fine you a minimum $50 per form. If you submit it after the 30 days but before August 1st then this increases to $110 per form, while if you fail to file by August 1st then you’ll be fined $270 per W-2.

Note that these are just the minimum penalties—the maximum penalties can go into the millions of dollars.

One thing’s for sure: It pays to file on time. 

Filling out a W-2 form is a breeze if you avoid these common mistakes. Stay sharp and sidestep the following pitfalls to ensure accurate and hassle-free tax reporting:

  • Inaccurate or missing Social Security Numbers (SSNs): Triple-check you enter employees' SSNs correctly. Missing or incorrect SSNs can cause complications when filing taxes.
  • Errors in employer information: Ensure the employer's name, address, and zip code are accurately recorded.
  • Miscalculations: Accurate calculations of wages, tips, and other compensation are crucial.
  • Incorrect tax withholdings: Check the amounts withheld for federal income taxes, Social Security tax, and Medicare tax.
  • Not including all income: Ensure all types of employee income are accounted for, including wages, tips, bonuses, and other compensation.
  • Missing state or local tax information: Fill in the state employer tax identification numbers, state income tax withheld, and local income tax information.
  • Not signing and dating: Employers need to sign and date the W-2 form confirm the information is accurate and legitimate.

If you identify errors or discrepancies in your W-2 form, promptly notify your employer. They will issue a corrected version, known as a W-2c, to ensure accurate reporting.

Yes. Whether you’re an employer or employee, you should retain copies of your W-2 forms for a minimum of four years. These documents serve as proof of your income and tax obligations, and may be required for future reference or audits.

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