About the W-2 Forms

Form W-2 is an Internal Revenue Service tax form used in the United States to report wages paid to employees and the taxes withheld from them. Employers must complete a Form W-2 for each employee to whom they pay a salary, wage, or other compensation as part of the employment relationship.

Every employer engaged in a trade or business who pays remuneration, including noncash payments of $600 or more for the year (all amounts if any income, social security, or Medicare tax was withheld) for services performed by an employee must file a Form W-2 for each employee (even if the employee is related to the employer) from whom:

  • Income, Social Security, or Medicare tax was withheld.
  • Income tax would have been withheld if the employee had claimed no more than one withholding allowance or had not claimed exemption from withholding on Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate.

Form W-2 Reporting of Employee Social Security Tax Deferred (Notice 2020-65)

Instructions for Employers

On August 8, 2020, a Presidential Memorandum was issued, directing the Secretary of the Treasury to use his authority pursuant to section 7508A of the Internal Revenue Code to defer the withholding, deposit, and payment of certain payroll tax obligations. In response to the Presidential Memorandum, Treasury and the IRS issued Notice 2020-65 on August 28, 2020.

The Notice allows employers the option to defer the employee portion of Social Security tax from September 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020, for eligible employees who earn less than $4,000 per bi-weekly pay period (or the equivalent threshold amount with respect to other pay periods) on a pay period-by-pay period basis. To pay the deferred amount of the employee portion of Social Security tax, the employer will withhold the amount of Social Security tax deferred from the employees’ paychecks from January 1, 2021, through April 30, 2021.

If you deferred the employee portion of Social Security tax under Notice 2020-65, when reporting total Social Security wages paid to an employee on Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, include any wages for which you deferred withholding and payment of employee Social Security tax in box 3 (Social security wages) and/or box 7 (Social security tips). However, do not include in box 4 (Social security tax withheld) any amount of deferred employee Social Security tax that has not been withheld.

Employee Social Security tax deferred in 2020 under Notice 2020-65 that is withheld in 2021 and not reported on the 2020 Form W-2 should be reported in box 4 (Social security tax withheld) on Form W-2c, Corrected Wage and Tax Statement. On Form W-2c, employers should enter the tax year 2020 in box c and adjust the amount previously reported in box 4 (Social security tax withheld) of the Form W-2 to include the deferred amounts that were withheld in 2021.

How To File and Submit

All Forms W-2c should be filed with SSA, along with Form W-3c, Transmittal of Corrected Wage and Tax Statements, as soon as possible after you have finished withholding the deferred amounts. See the 2021 General Instructions for Forms W-2 and W-3 (to be published in January 2021) for more information about completing and filing Forms W-2c and Forms W-3c. Forms W-2c should also be furnished to employees, and you may direct your employees to (or otherwise provide to them) the Instructions for Employees, below, for instructions specific to this correction.

Similarly, when reporting total Railroad Retirement Tax Act (RRTA) compensation include any compensation for which you deferred withholding and payment of the employee Social Security tax equivalent of Tier 1 RRTA tax under Notice 2020-65 in box 14 of the 2020 Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. However, do not include in box 14 any amount of deferred employee Tier 1 RRTA tax that has not been withheld.

Employee RRTA tax deferred in 2020 under Notice 2020-65 that is withheld in 2021 and not reported on the 2020 Form W-2 should be reported in box 14 on Form W-2c for 2020. On Form W-2c, employers should adjust the amount previously reported as Tier 1 tax in box 14 of the Form W-2 to include the deferred amounts that were withheld in 2021. See the 2021 General Instructions for Forms W-2 and W-3 (to be published in January 2021) for more information about completing and filing Forms W-2c and Form W-3c, Transmittal of Corrected Wage and Tax Statements. Employee copies of Forms W-2c should be furnished to employees, and you may direct your employees to (or otherwise provide to them) the Instructions for Employees, below, for instructions specific to this correction.

Instructions for Employees

If you had only one employer during 2020 and your Form W-2c, Corrected Wages and Tax Statement, for 2020 only shows a correction to box 4 (or to box 14 for employees who pay RRTA tax) to account for employee Social Security (or Tier 1 RRTA tax) that was deferred in 2020 and withheld in 2021 pursuant to Notice 2020-65, no further steps are required. However, if you had two or more employers in 2020 and your Form W-2c for 2020 shows a correction to box 4 (or to box 14 for employees who pay RRTA tax) to account for employee Social Security (or Tier 1 RRTA tax) that was deferred in 2020 and withheld in 2021, you should use the amount of Social Security tax (or Tier 1 RRTA tax) withheld reported on the Form W-2c to determine whether you had excess Social Security tax (or Tier 1 RRTA tax) on wages (or compensation) paid in 2020.

If the corrected amount in box 4 of the Form W-2c for 2020 causes the total amount of employee Social Security tax (or equivalent portion of the Tier 1 RRTA tax) withheld by all of your employers to exceed the maximum amount ($8,537.40) of tax that you owe, or increases an already existing excess amount of employee Social Security tax (or Tier 1 RRTA tax withheld), then you should file Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to claim a credit for the excess Social Security tax (or Tier 1 RRTA tax) withheld. See the instructions to line 10 of Schedule 3 in the 2020 Instructions for Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR for more information.

2020 Forms W-2 Reporting of Qualified Sick Leave Wages and Qualified Family Leave Wages Paid Under P.L. 116-127

Employers must report the amount of qualified sick leave wages and qualified family leave wages paid to employees under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, P.L. 116-127, on either 2020 Forms W-2, box 14, or on a separate statement. This provides employees who are also self-employed with amounts they may need to figure their qualified sick leave equivalent or qualified family leave equivalent credits. To find out more information on how to report these amounts, see Notice 2020-54.

Sample 2020 Forms W-2, W-2AS, W-2GU, and W-2VI revised to correct alignment of the “VOID” and “box 13” checkboxes

The “VOID” and “box 13” checkboxes on the sample 2020 Forms W-2, W-2AS, W-2GU, and W-2VI available on IRS.gov, January 14, 2020, were slightly out of alignment. Revised sample forms became available on February 5, 2020. You can find the exact measurements in Pub. 1141, General Rules and Specifications for Substitute Forms W-2 and W-3.

IRS printed Forms W-2, W-2AS, W-2GU, and W-2VI are correct and you may use them for filing

*Information shard from the Internal Revenue Service

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