Note: This is a printed version of https://isc.uw.edu/your-pay-taxes/year-end-tax-resources/about-irs-form-w-2. Please visit this page on the ISC website to ensure you're referencing the most current information.
About IRS Form W-2
The IRS Form W-2 Wage and Tax Statement (PDF) reports all taxable wages paid to and taxes withheld from an employee during the calendar year, from the January 10 payday through the December 25 payday. It includes details of employee and employer contributions to a variety of tax-related benefits such as retirement and savings plans, medical and dental, flexible spending account and others.
The Federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) also requires employer‐sponsored medical and dental costs to be reported on both the W-2 and 1095 forms.
W-2 Frequently Asked Questions
If you DID NOT opt out of paper tax forms, your paper W-2 was mailed on January 25. to the home address you have listed in Workday. Note that your electronic W-2 also became available in Workday on January 25.
Refer to the Accessing Prior Year Tax Forms section of the Year End Tax Resources page.
Your one University of Washington W-2 reflects your wages and taxes paid for ALL of your positions at the University of Washington, UW Medical Centers and Harborview.
At the University of Washington, a Stipend is an Earning Type used to pay a scholarship or fellowship. There are three Stipend Earning Types used by the University: STP, SFP, and SWB. Stipends are not considered wages, so are not reported on the W-2. However, that does not mean that the Stipend isn’t taxable. Student Fiscal Services (SFS) assess UW Stipend Earnings. For students, any stipend earnings are reported on Form 1098-T. Non-students will receive a Stipend Letter, mailed in late January.
If your name and/or SSN in Workday does not match up with the information on your Social Security card, you will need to submit a copy of your Social Security Card to the ISC’s Payroll department, either in person at the ISC (UW Tower, Floor O-2) or via secured fax line at 206-543-8137 (important security note: please do not ever include your Social Security Number in an email). Once the information is validated, the ISC will make any necessary corrections.
Box 1 is your reportable taxable income for the calendar year, and is the amount you will enter on the wage line of your tax return per IRS rules; it includes your gross wages minus any pre-tax items such as medical and health premiums, FSA/DCAP contributions and retirement amounts. Box 3 is the amount of your total reportable wages subject to Social Security taxes; retirement plans are not considered pre-tax items for the purposes of Social Security, so Box 3 may be larger than Box 1. Box 5 is the amount of your total reportable wages subject to Medicare taxes; as there is no cap for Medicare taxes the way there is for Social Security taxes, Box 5 may be larger than Box 1 and Box 3.
Box 1 is not usually the same as your gross wages; it is simply the amount of your taxable wages, as determined by the IRS. Box 1 will not include amounts such as your pre-tax benefits, elective deferrals, mandatory retirement contributions or any other amount not subject to taxes.
Box 2 is the amount of Federal Withholding Tax you chose to withhold from your paychecks when you completed your W-4 during the onboarding process. Each employee determines their own amount of withholding. If Box 2 is empty on your W-2, it means either you claimed exempt on your withholding or your calculated withholding elections exceeded your salary, so no amount was withheld from your paychecks.
You can update your withholding elections at any time; for guidance, visit the Update Federal Withholding Elections User Guide.
Many student employees are exempt from paying Social Security and Medicare taxes and their earnings aren’t subject to tax. Box 3 and Box 5 will be empty or reduced if you qualified under these student FICA exemption rules.
You can find more information about student exemptions on the Tax Office’s FICA page, as well as in the Calculating Federal FICA and Other Mandatory State Taxes section of the ISC’s Tax Withholding Information For US Citizens page.
Box 3 is the amount of your total reportable wages subject to Social Security taxes. Box 5 is the amount of your total reportable wages subject to Medicare taxes. As there is no cap for Medicare taxes the way there is for Social Security taxes, Box 5 may be larger than Box 3.
The IRS had included Box 9 on the W-2 as part of a “Verification Code” pilot program. However, because of new wage and income reporting requirements, the IRS has discontinued the pilot for the 2019 tax year – as a result, Box 9 is no longer used.
The IRS requires employers to include the cost of employer-sponsored health coverage on the employee’s W-2. This amount is reported with Code DD. This amount is not taxable.
Box 12 includes the amount of elective deferrals and various other types of compensation. The IRS has not designated an official code for mandatory contributions to retirement plans, and therefore the amount would not be displayed in Box 12.
Additionally, because contributions to UWRP are considered mandatory contributions and not elective deferrals*, UWRP contributions have been taken into account in Box 1 and are not itemized in Box 12. Your year-to-date totals can be found on your payslip.
*The 2.5% UWRP contribution is an an elective deferral, and will appear in Box 12 as Code E.
Form W-2 Breakdown
|Box 1||Wages, Tips, Other Compensation||This is reportable federal taxable wages (total gross wages less all pre-tax items such as: medical premiums, dependent care, limited flexible spending, health savings account, parking, and Retirement plans PERS, UWRP, VIP, Deferred Comp, LEOFF & TRS). This amount does include taxable employer provided benefits, such as tuition assistance benefits, gift certs, etc.|
|Box 2||Federal Income Tax Withheld||Total amount of Federal tax withheld, including additional withholding.|
|Box 3||Social Security Wages||Total amount of reportable wages less pre-tax items which are not subject to Social Security taxes such as: medical premiums, dependent care, limited flexible spending, health savings account, parking. Retirement plans are not pre-tax items for Social Security tax purposes and are included in the reportable total. There is an annual maximum of Social Security wages subject to tax.|
|Box 4||Social Security Tax Withheld||Total amount of Social Security tax withheld. There is an annual maximum of this tax each year.|
|Box 5||Medicare Wages and Tips||Total amount of reportable wages less pre-tax items which are subject to Medicare taxes such as: medical premiums, dependent care, limited flexible spending, health savings account and parking. Retirement plans are not pre-tax items for Medicare tax purposes and are included in the reportable total. There is no yearly limit for Medicare wages.|
|Box 6||Medicare Tax Withheld||Total amount of Medicare tax withheld. There is no yearly limit for Medicare tax withheld.|
|Box 7||Social Security Tips||Not applicable to the UW.|
|Box 8||Allocated Tips||Not applicable to the UW.|
|Box 10||Dependent Care Benefits||Total amount of dependent care withheld. Excludible amount allowed under Internal Revenue Code Section 129.|
|Box 11||Nonqualified plans||Not applicable to the UW.|
|Box 12||“See instructions for box 12”||
Any contributions to PERS & UWRP*, LEOFF & TRS plans are mandatory contributions, not elective deferrals and will not be itemized in this box. They are exempt from taxation and have been accounted for in Box 1.
(*The 2.5% UWRP contribution is an an elective deferral, and will be Code E)
|Box 13||Retirement Plan||This will be checked if enrolled in any basic retirement plan.|
|Box 15||Name of State and Employer state ID number||For Employees working/residing outside of Washington State only. Employee’s tax residence state.|
|Box 16||State Wages, Tips, etc.||For Employees working/residing outside of Washington State only. Total of reportable state taxable wages.|
|Box 17||State Income Tax||For Employees working/residing outside of Washington State only. Total amount of state tax withheld, including additional withholding.|
|Box 18||Local Wages, tips, etc.||For Employees working/residing outside of Washington State only. Total reportable state local wages.|
|Box 19||Local Income Tax||For Employees working/residing outside of Washington State only. Total amount of local tax withheld.|
|Box 20||Locality Name||For Employees working/residing outside of Washington State only. Locality code.|
*On March 17, 2021, the IRS amended their guidance issued in January 2021 on how employers should report sick and family leave wages paid under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
Previously, employers were to report qualified FFCRA wages paid in 2020 in Box 14 of the 2020 Form W-2; employees who had qualified FFCRA wages paid in 2020 would have seen FFCRA amounts listed in Box 14 on the 2020 Form W-2 made available in January 2021.
However, in April 2021, in accordance with the new IRS guidelines, employees who had qualified FFCRA wages paid in 2020 were sent revised Form W-2s that display zero for FFCRA wages in Box 14 of the 2020 Form W-2.