Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, comes in a variety of sizes, shapes, and formats. The format you see will depend on your employer's payroll processing. Regardless of the format, every Form W-2 contains the same information.
Knowing how to read a Form W-2 can help you understand your salary, and also help you get a head-start when preparing your taxes.
Copies of Form W-2Copy A For the Social Security Administration. Your employer will mail or electronically transmit Copy A of your Form W-2 to the Social Security Administration. The SSA will share this information with the Internal Revenue Service.
Copy B Attach this copy to your Federal Income Tax Return (such as Form 1040). If you are e-filing your tax return, keep Copy B with your tax documents for at least four years.
Copy C Keep this copy of your Form W-2 with your tax documents for at least four years. For safekeeping, staple Copy C to the first page of your federal tax return so you can easily find it.
Copy 1 For the State, City, or Local tax agency. Your employer will mail Copy 1 to your state or local tax department.
Copy 2 Attach this copy to your State, City, or Local income tax return. If you are e-filing these tax returns, keep Copy 2 with your tax documents for at least four years.
Copy D This copy is kept by the employer. Companies are required to keep copies of Form W-2 for a minimum of four years.
Employer and Employee Identification (Boxes A through F)Box A: Control Number. This is a code that identifies this unique Form W-2 document in your employer's records. This number is assigned by the company's payroll processing software.
Box B: Employer Identification Number (EIN). This is your employer's unique tax identification number.
Box C: Employer's Information. This identifies the name, address, city, state, and zip code of your employer. The address may show your company's headquarters rather than their local address.
Box D: Employee's Social Security Number. This is your Social Security Number. If this number is incorrect, take your Social Security card to your company's human resources or payroll department and ask them to correct it and issue you a new Form W-2.
Box E: Employee's Name. This identifies your full name (first name, middle initial, and last name). If your name has changed, you might want to ask your company to update their records with your new name, and re-issue your W-2.
Box F: Employee's Address. This identifies your address, city, state, and zip code. If you have recently moved, the address might be a former address.
More about Form W-2: