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What is a Form W-2?

The Form W-2 [3] Wage and Tax Statement is a form that your employer sends you near the beginning of the calendar year. By law, they are required to mail it by January 31st, barring any special extensions, so that you have ample time to meet the April 15th income tax filing deadline.

When your employer sends you a copy of your W-2, they will also send a copy to the IRS. It’s important that, when you’re filling out your taxes, you enter this information correctly. You will be audited if the information on your return doesn’t match the information the IRS received from your employer.

Form W-2

There are 29 boxes on the W-2, six of which are identified with letters and twenty are identified with numbers. Only the relevant boxes will be filled out, the fields are:

Fortunately, you will not have to know what each field means because tax preparation software and tax forms will reference these boxes by their number or letter. The only tricky part is box 12a-d, those are basically “catch-all” type of boxes where your employer will put a specific code along with a value. The lettered codes correspond to specific terms and can be found in the instructions of the Form W-2.

Fixing Errors on Form W-2

What if you find errors on your W-2? Contact your employer as soon as possible. Common errors include an incorrect social security number, misspelled name, or incorrect wages and tips. Any time you have data entry, such as filling out an employee record based on a hand written form, you can introduce errors. In fixing this error, your employer will file a Form W-2c, Corrected Wage and Tax Statement.

Missing Form W-2

If you haven’t received your Form W-2 from your employer or you have lost it, contact your employer immediately. It will be the easiest way for you to receive your Form W-2 (again). If that does not work, you can contact the IRS at 800-829-1040 for help but expect to wait. You will need to provide your name, address, Social Security number, phone number, your Employer’s name, address, phone number, your dates of employment, as well as an estimate of the wages you earned, federal tax withheld, and when you worked. As you can see, contacting the IRS directly is harder than calling your employer!

If you don’t have enough time to request a missing W-2 and still file your taxes on time, you can request a tax extension [4] or file and then amend your return [5].