How to fill out an IRS Form W-2

Form W-2 is an IRS document through which employers report wage and salary information for employees. This form must be completed by employers and it is such an important part of many people’s tax-preparation process.

If you are an employer and do not know how to fill out this document or have any questions about it, here we will show you how to fill out the W-2 form step by step.

What is the Form W-2?

As mentioned before, the W-2 form is an IRS document used to report taxes and wages on behalf of the employer. This form shows important information about employee earnings, amount of taxes withheld from their paycheck, employer fringe benefits and other important details.

In simple words, it is the form that the IRS uses to keep track of the work income that an employee earned during the previous year.

Who must complete the W-2 form?

The IRS requires employers to complete a Form W-2 for each employee to whom they pay a wage, salary, or any other compensation as part of the employment relationship.

This form should be mailed out by January 31st of each year and employees must use it to prepare their tax return.

When to download IRS Form W-2?


As an employer, you must download Form W-2 if your employees earn more than $600 a year, or if you withheld a certain amount of money for Social Security or Medicare. If you are wondering where to download Form W-2, you can do so by clicking here.

Remember that you must complete a form for each employee and submit it before January 31 of each year. If you can’t do it before the deadline, you can request a 15-day extension to send Form W-2 to your employees, or ask the IRS for a 30-day extension by sending a letter via fax.


If you work as an employee and don’t receive a W-2 form by early February, you should contact your employer and request the document as soon as possible. Your employer may provide an electronic version for you to use until you receive the paper version in the mail.

How to fill out W-2 form step by step

Whether you fill out W-2 forms on your own, use payroll software, or have a tax preparer, it’s important that you know how to complete IRS Form W-2.

First, you need to download the form and fill in the boxes on the left with the employee’s and employer’s information as follows:

a)      Enter the employee’s Social Security Number.

b)      Enter the Employer Identification Number (EIN).

c)      Enter your name and tax address of the employee.

d)     Enter your control number.

e)      Enter the name of the employee.

f)       Enter the employee’s address.

Understanding W-2 boxes

On the right side of the form you will see some boxes with numbers that you should complete with the corresponding information. Below we explain what you should fill in according to each box.

Boxes 1- 10

  • Box 1, 7 and 8: you should place the employee’s annual earnings from wages and tips in box 1. This box includes all taxes that have been withheld, but does not include deductions for the Individual Retirement Account (IRA). In box 7 you should enter all social security tip income you reported to your employer, while in box 8 you should enter tip income allocated to you by your employer.
  • Box 2, 4 and 6: these boxes are dedicated to federal income taxes, Social Security taxes, and Medicare taxes that you have paid to the Administration during the current fiscal year.
  • Box 3: Here is where you should indicate the amount of income that is taxed for Social Security.
  • Box 5: this box is where you should enter your wages subject to Medicare tax.
  • Box 9: this box has been left blank since 2011 when the government eliminated the pay-as-you-go option for the Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • Box 10: you should enter the amount of deductions for child care expenses that the employee receives, if applicable.

Boxes 11-14

  • Box 11: if the employee has withdrawn anything from a 457(b) plan or non-qualified retirement plan, you should place that dollar amount in this box.
  • Box 12: filling out this part of the form usually takes a little longer, since different codes have to be entered, depending on the payments and benefits the worker receives. There are 26 codes from A to Z and AA to EE, which are found on the back of the form.
  • Box 13: this section has its own three boxes, which you must check to indicate that your employee is part of your retirement plan, received sick pay from a third party, and is a legal worker.
  •  Box 14: in this box you can include any other deductions that you have omitted.

Boxes 15-20

  • Box 15: you should enter your state ID number in this box.
  • Box 16: this box is dedicated to the employee’s total earnings that are subject to state income tax withholding.
  • Box 17: the amount of state income tax that has been withheld should be placed in this box.
  • Box 18: all income subject to local taxation must be included here.
  • Box 19: here you should enter the amount of local taxes that have been withheld.
  • Box 20: Finally, you should enter the specific name of the place to which the local taxes are linked in box 20.

Frequently Asked Questions

When must the W-2 form be submitted?

The IRS requires the employers to send their employees a Form W-2 no later than January 31 following the close of the fiscal year.

How many forms W-2 do I need to file?

Employers must submit 6 copies of Form W-2:

  • 3 copies for the employee to present in the tax return.
  • 1 copy for the employer (Copy D).
  • 2 copies for the State.

What should I do if I have not received my W-2 form on time?

If you haven’t received your W-2 form by early February, contact the IRS at 800-TAX-1040. The IRS will contact your employer and request the missing form.