How to read a W-2 form (article) | Tax forms | Khan Academy (2024)

Think of a W-2 form as an annual report card from your employer, only this one's for the IRS. In our upcoming lesson, we'll deep-dive into what this form is really about, why it's essential, and how to make sense of it.

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  • Georgeson Cas

    9 months agoPosted 9 months ago. Direct link to Georgeson Cas's post “So is the first box (1) s...”

    So is the first box (1) showing the gross income? I'm still slightly confused.

    (2 votes)

    • David Alexander

      9 months agoPosted 9 months ago. Direct link to David Alexander's post “Gross income is the total...”

      Gross income is the total amount paid to you BEFORE taxes and other required fees (like FICA and Medicare) are deducted.

      So, If your job pays you $5 an hour and you work 40 hours a week, your gross pay is $200. But taxes, FICA and Medicare deductions are made. You may also pay certain amounts for required state disability insurance, city and state income taxes, and such. Let's say those take $25 per week from you. So, your GROSS income was $200, but your NET income was $175. At the end of the year, your W-2 form will report 52 weeks times $200, a gross income of $10,400.

      (4 votes)

  • Alex

    10 months agoPosted 10 months ago. Direct link to Alex's post “I understand most of this...”

    I understand most of this, but I'm not quite sure about a few things, firstly, where exactly are the Social Security and Medicare wages coming from? Secondly, in the video for this lesson, Khan was talking about how the Social Security wage included the 401K, however, 62,500 + 4,500 ≠ 64,000. Sorry about my confusion, I just really want to know.

    (1 vote)

    • 10 months agoPosted 10 months ago. Direct link to Elvira (Elly)'s post “Box 12 is a miscellaneous...”

      Box 12 is a miscellaneous box. Some employers use it, and some don't, but it essentially contains any information that the employer was recording and bookkeeping. In the specific case of $4,500 recorded in box D, it reflects contributions to a 401(k). However, some employers have multiple offerings for 401(k)s, some of which are before, and some after taxes are taken out, like a ROTH 401(k). The discrepancy may be from that. A portion of 401(k) contribution was taxed and other portion was not. But, your understanding is spot on - most commonly they add up to Social Security wage, but not all the time. Hope that helps.

      (2 votes)

  • Samantha Jean-Louis

    a month agoPosted a month ago. Direct link to Samantha Jean-Louis's post “Do taxes affect your cred...”

    Do taxes affect your credit score?

    (1 vote)

    • David Alexander

      a month agoPosted a month ago. Direct link to David Alexander's post “If you don't pay them, th...”

      If you don't pay them, that will certainly affect your score.

      (2 votes)

  • Kalfus

    7 months agoPosted 7 months ago. Direct link to Kalfus's post “How do you figure out if ...”

    How do you figure out if you overpaid in taxes? I'm assuming you will have to find out the percentage of your money that was supposed to be taken away and do the math yourself.

    (1 vote)

    • David Alexander

      7 months agoPosted 7 months ago. Direct link to David Alexander's post “The W-2 form will show ho...”

      The W-2 form will show how much you earned, and how much of that was withheld for taxes. If you overpaid, then when you file your taxes, you will be eligible for a refund. Adjust your deductions and such so less will be withheld the next year.

      (2 votes)

  • KERRYD

    5 months agoPosted 5 months ago. Direct link to KERRYD's post “What could be a reason wh...”

    What could be a reason why the amount of wages in box 3 is
    \[\$2{,}500\] more than the amount of wages in box 1?

    (1 vote)

  • sherlyn.gomezcolindresa3

    4 months agoPosted 4 months ago. Direct link to sherlyn.gomezcolindresa3's post “How do you figure out thi...”

    How do you figure out things?

    (1 vote)

    • David Alexander

      4 months agoPosted 4 months ago. Direct link to David Alexander's post “You follow the instructio...”

      You follow the instructions. YOu can find instructions on how to figure out a W-2 form at the website of the internal revenue service.

      (1 vote)

  • keegan.gilsdorf

    3 months agoPosted 3 months ago. Direct link to keegan.gilsdorf's post “Information on a W-2 can ...”

    Information on a W-2 can be grouped into two groups: sections (labeled a-f) and boxes (numbered 1-20).
    What information is listed in boxes 1-20?

    (1 vote)

  • keegan.gilsdorf

    3 months agoPosted 3 months ago. Direct link to keegan.gilsdorf's post “If you want to find out h...”

    If you want to find out how much federal tax was withheld from your wages, where would you generally look on your W-2?

    (1 vote)

    • David Alexander

      3 months agoPosted 3 months ago. Direct link to David Alexander's post “Box 2 is the place.”

      Box 2 is the place.

      (1 vote)

  • Ryleigh

    3 months agoPosted 3 months ago. Direct link to Ryleigh's post “Does any information chan...”

    Does any information change depending on whether or not I was working a work-study job for college? Like once I get my W-2 from that job, should I expect less to be filled out or look out for specifics or differences in information?

    (1 vote)

  • espinoroberto156

    4 months agoPosted 4 months ago. Direct link to espinoroberto156's post “How do you figure out thi...”

    How do you figure out things

    (1 vote)

    • Samantha Jean-Louis

      a month agoPosted a month ago. Direct link to Samantha Jean-Louis's post “You could ask the company...”

      You could ask the company.

      (1 vote)

How to read a W-2 form (article) | Tax forms | Khan Academy (2024)

FAQs

What is a Form W-2 answers? ›

Form W-2 is completed by an employer and contains important information that you need to complete your tax return. It reports your total wages for the year and the amount of federal, state, and other taxes withheld from your paycheck. It may also contain information about: Tips. Contributions to a 401(k)

How do you read a W-2 for total income? ›

Box 1 of the W-2 shows your taxable wages for federal income tax purposes. To arrive at your total salary using Box 1, add your federal taxable wages shown in that box to your nontaxable wages plus your pretax deductions that are exempt from federal income tax.

How do you read a W-2 to know how much you get back? ›

Box 2 on our W2 is the amount of tax withheld from your wages. However, this does not tell you how much you will get back. On your form 1040, you will see your refund on line 34. If you owe, the amount will be on line 37.

How do I calculate my taxable income on my W-2? ›

Box 1 "Wages, tips, other compensation": This is federal, taxable income for payments in the calendar year. The amount is calculated as YTD earnings minus pre- tax retirement and pre-tax benefit deductions plus taxable benefits (i.e., certain educational benefits).

How to check if W-2 is correct? ›

There are three easy steps to make sure your W-2 is correct:
  1. Check the spelling of your name. No nicknames here — you'll want to ensure your full name is spelled out.
  2. Verify that your social security number is listed correctly.
  3. Double-check that your taxable wages are correct.
Jan 26, 2021

What are two important details in your W-2 form? ›

Also known as a “Wage and Tax Statement,” Form W-2 is a document that reports your annual wages and the amount of taxes withheld from your paycheck and sent to the IRS. It also shows other information such as how much your employer paid for your health insurance and any money you received in dependent care benefits.

Why does my W-2 not match my salary? ›

Your income will be less than your salary if you have pre-tax deductions for a 403(b) or other deferred compensation plan, or if you have pre-tax deductions for your elected benefits, such as health and dental insurance. These pre-tax dollars are subtracted from your annual income for taxation purposes.

Do I claim 0 or 1 on my W4? ›

By placing a “0” on line 5, you are indicating that you want the most amount of tax taken out of your pay each pay period. If you wish to claim 1 for yourself instead, then less tax is taken out of your pay each pay period. 2. You can choose to have no taxes taken out of your tax and claim Exemption (see Example 2).

Do I have to fill anything out on my W-2? ›

Employees do not need to fill out W-2 forms. Instead, employers complete these forms for each individual taxpayer and send them a copy before January 31.

Can I calculate my own W-2? ›

The process of calculating W2 wages involves several steps. The exact steps vary based on individual circ*mstances. They include adding up the gross income, subtracting pre-tax deductions, calculating taxes withheld, and accounting for post-tax deductions. These steps allow individuals to convert last pay stub to W2.

How do you read your W-2 form? ›

The right side of Form W-2 reports wages, taxes withheld, and benefits.
  1. Box 1: Taxable wages, tips, and other compensation. ...
  2. Box 2: Federal income tax withheld. ...
  3. Box 3: Social security wages. ...
  4. Box 4: Social security tax withheld. ...
  5. Box 5: Medicare wages and tips. ...
  6. Box 6: Medicare tax withheld.

What percentage of my paycheck is withheld for federal tax? ›

Federal income tax rates range from 10% up to a top marginal rate of 37%. The U.S. real median household income (adjusted for inflation) in 2022 was $74,580.

How do you get a W-2 form that tells you how much money you earned so you can file a tax return if you were an employee earning wages )? ›

Your employer will issue you a W-2 if you've earned $600 or more in wages within the last year. If you withheld income (no matter the amount) for Social Security, Medicare, or state and federal taxes, you will also receive a W-2.

How to calculate refund from W-2? ›

Every year, your refund is calculated as the amount withheld for federal income tax, minus your total federal income tax for the year. A large portion of the money being withheld from each of your paychecks does not actually go toward federal income tax.

What does the W-2 form tell you how much you ve earned and how much taxes you ve paid in the last year? ›

Form W-2, also known as the Wage and Tax Statement, is a document an employer sends to each employee and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and shows income earned from an employer and the amount of taxes withheld from an employee's paycheck so taxpayers can file federal and state taxes.

How do I check if my W-2 is correct? ›

There are three easy steps to make sure your W-2 is correct:
  1. Check the spelling of your name. No nicknames here — you'll want to ensure your full name is spelled out.
  2. Verify that your social security number is listed correctly.
  3. Double-check that your taxable wages are correct.
Jan 26, 2021

How do you know how much taxes you get back? ›

By using a tax refund calculator, you'll get an idea of how much you might get back or owe. This can help you plan your finances better, whether it's setting aside money if you owe taxes or planning how to use a potential refund. Remember, it's just an estimate, but it can give you a good starting point.

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