What Is A W2 And Why Do I Need One?

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That time of year is coming again -- the time when you open your mailbox, find your W2 form and realize you have no idea what to do with it. W2 forms, so many numbers and random letters, it's easy to get overwhelmed. Today, we're going to clear up that "What is a W2" question. Let's take a look at what a W2 form does for you and why you need it.

What Is a W2 Form?

A W2 form is a form that an employer is required to send to their employees and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at the end of every year. Think of it as a summary of how much money you made throughout the year and how much money has been withheld from your paycheck for taxes.
An employer must fill out a W2 form for any kind of compensation, and send it to you by January 31 (Unless you're an independent contractor. If you're an independent contractor, you need to fill out a 1099 form yourself). A W2 form received in January of 2017 will reflect the income and withholdings of 2016.

Why Do You Need a W2 Form?

Before you can finish your personal tax returns, you must have your W2 form because you must attach your W2 form to your tax returns when you file them. You also need the total amount of withheld tax money before you can figure out if you will get a refund or need to make an additional tax payment.
Because the money withheld from your paycheck is paid for taxes throughout the year, you can subtract the total withholdings on your W2 from your personal tax bill. This calculation is necessary to file your personal taxes correctly.

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Reading a W2 Form

Though a W2 form is small, there are a lot of different boxes and codes that can be hard to keep straight. When reading a W2 form, look for the descriptions inside the boxes to figure out what each number is. If you see codes, like BB, DD, or N, you can find what they mean on the back of your W2 form.
You can also use your most recent paystub to calculate all your W2 information. But remember, your own calculations are just estimates. You still need your W2 form to file accurate tax returns.

Getting a W2 Form from a Previous Employer

It can take two weeks for your W2 form to reach you through the mail. If you don't have your W2 from a previous employer right on January 31, don't panic. Instead, contact your previous employer and ask if they mailed the form. You can also make sure they have your correct address or even request another copy.
If you don't have your W2 form by February 14, you should call the IRS. Make sure you have your basic information (name, address, social security number) ready as well as your employers name, address, zip code, and phone number. You should also have your dates of employment and your estimated wages withheld income tax. The IRS will call your previous employer themselves and advise them to send your W2 form.

Never Ask the "What Is a W2" Question Again

There's a lot to digest during the tax season, but with the right tools and information, you'll discover taxes aren't as hard as they seem. Don't let your W2 form stress you out this year. To make sure you get everything filed correctly, all you have to do is using our form W-2 generator! Feel free to use the pay stub maker to generate your own paystubs too!


Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, employers who fail to provide a W-2 form or provide an incorrect W-2 form may face penalties from the IRS. The penalties vary depending on the circumstances, such as the severity of the error or the number of employees affected.

It is not recommended to file your taxes without a W-2 form, as it contains accurate information about your income and withheld taxes. However, if you are unable to obtain a W-2 before the tax filing deadline, you can use IRS Form 4852 as a substitute, using your best knowledge and any available pay stubs to estimate the information.

You can access previous years' W-2 forms by contacting your former employers or by requesting a wage and income transcript from the IRS. This transcript will provide you with the information from your W-2 forms from the past 10 years.

You can generate a W-2 form online through various tax preparation websites and software. Some options include the IRS' Free File program, TurboTax, H&R Block, and TaxAct. Ensure you choose a reputable and secure platform.

A W-2 form is an annual wage and tax statement that employers are required to provide to their employees. It reports an individual's total wages, salary, and other compensation, as well as the amount of taxes withheld throughout the year.

A W-2 form is for employees, while a 1099 form is for independent contractors or freelancers. Employers are responsible for withholding taxes from employees' wages and reporting them on a W-2 form. In contrast, independent contractors are responsible for calculating and paying their own taxes based on the information provided on a 1099 form.

If you find an error on your W-2 form, you should immediately contact your employer and request a corrected W-2 form (W-2c). Do not file your tax return with incorrect information, as this may lead to issues with the IRS.

If you lost your W-2 form or did not receive one, you should first contact your employer and request a new copy. If you are unable to obtain a copy from your employer, you can request a transcript of your W-2 information from the IRS.

Employers are required to provide W-2 forms to their employees by January 31st of each year. If you do not receive your W-2 by this date, you should contact your employer for a copy or to confirm your mailing address.

You need a W-2 form to accurately file your income tax return. The form contains essential information about your income and withheld taxes, which is necessary to determine your tax liability or refund.
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What Is A W2 And Why Do I Need One?
James Wilson

After graduating from McCombs School of Business in Texas, James joined ThePayStubs as a CPA to make sure the numbers we provide our clients are correct. Read More

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