What Is a W2?

A W-2 is a form that states how much an employee earned in wages and how much federal, state and local taxes were withheld from the wages during a year. The W-2 form is also called the wage and tax statement.

The employer sends the form to the Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration and the employee. A W-2 is submitted only if the employer paid the employee $600 or more in wages and withheld taxes such as Medicare, Social Security or income tax. If taxes are not withheld because the employee filed an exemption or claimed one or no allowance on a W-4 form, the employer must still submit the W-2 form. The form must be sent to the employer and IRS by January 31 and to the SSA before March 1 of the following year. The deadline gives employees eight weeks to prepare and submit their tax returns to the IRS.