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Your W-2 Form

The W-2 form is your wage and tax statement provided by your employer. The W-2 form provides information regarding taxable wages paid to you, and the taxes withheld from those wages for the calendar year specified on the W-2 form.

Employees need the W-2 form for filing personal income tax returns. The following information is designed to help employees understand the boxes listed on the W-2 form.

Note: Foreign national employees who have wages exempt from income tax under a tax treaty will receive form 1042-S to report the exempt wages. Some, however, will receive a W-2 form in addition to the 1042-S.

  1. Wages, tips, and other compensation
  2. Federal income tax withheld
  3. Social security wages
  4. Social security tax withheld
  5. Medicare wages and tips
  6. Medicare tax withheld
  7. Social security tips
  8. Allocated tips
  9. Advanced EIC payment
  10. Dependent care benefits
  11. Non-qualified plans
  12. Box 12
  13. Retirement plan
  14. Other
  15. State
  16. State wages, tips, etc.
  17. State income tax
  18. Local wages, tips, etc.
  19. Local income tax
  20. Locality name
Identity Information - Employee and Employer
  • a. "Employee's social security number": Contains the employee's social security number as listed with Cornell's Payroll office. If the listed number is incorrect or begins with 999, contact Payroll immediately at (607) 255-5194
  • b. "Employer's identification number (EIN)": Contains the employer's assigned state identification number used for payroll tax reporting purposes
  • c. "Employer's name, address, and ZIP code": Contains the address of Cornell's Payroll office
  • d. "Control number": Contains the number assigned to Cornell by the IRS for tax-reporting purposes
  • e. "Employee's first name and middle initial; Last name; Suff.; Employee's address and ZIP code": Contains the employee's name and address as listed in the PeopleSoft system

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1. Wages, tips, other compensation

Contains federal, taxable wages paid within the stated calendar year. The amount is calculated as follows:

Year to date earnings (from your last check received in December)
LESS...

  • Tax-deferred retirement deductions (Box 12E and 12G)
  • Select benefit deductions for health insurance payments, dependent care, and medical expense reimbursements
  • NYS tax-deferred retirement (Box 14)
  • Parking fee deductions (no separate box on W-2 form)
  • Taxable benefits (e.g., some educational benefits, some moving expenses, etc.)

Note: Box 1 should agree with Federal Taxable Gross, YTD information stated on the last paycheck for the calendar year.

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2. Federal income tax withheld

Contains the federal income tax amount withheld from your earnings. If you did not file a W-4 form, the default withholding status is single, claiming zero, regardless of your marital status. Your current status is stated on your pay stub in the box labeled "Tax Data."

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3. Social security wages

Social security wages are not always identical to the federal taxable gross wages reported in Box 1. Employee contributions to a retirement plan are exempt from income taxes, but subject to social security taxes.

Note: Full-time students working for Cornell are exempt from social security taxes under the "student exemption" rule.

Some employees in the federal retirement system are exempt from social security/Old Age Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) taxes, but subject to Medicare taxes.

Foreign Nationals who are nonresident aliens based on the substantial presence test are exempt from social security taxes.

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4. Social security tax withheld

Contains the social security tax withheld from your earnings for the "Old Age Survivors and Disability Insurance" (OASDI) component of social security taxes.

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5. Medicare wages and tips

Contains the total wages and tips subject to the Medicare (hospital insurance) component of social security taxes. The Medicare wage base is not subject to a cap (limit).

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6. Medicare tax withheld

Contains the Medicare tax withheld from your earnings for the Medicare component of social security taxes. The rate is 1.45% of the Medicare wage base (listed in Box 5).

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7. Social security tips

This box is for informational purposes only. The tip income is reported in this box is already included in boxes 1, 3 and 5.

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8. Allocated tips

Contains tips allocated to an employee based on the IRS rules and regulations for tip reporting.

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9. Advanced EIC payment

Contains the total amount of advanced earned income credit (EIC) received in the calendar year.

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10. Dependent care benefits

Contains the before-tax deduction that is withheld based on the Select Benefits Program calculations for dependent care. This amount is not included in Box 1.

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11. Non-qualified plans

Is not currently used by Cornell.

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12. Various codes defined

Box 12 Codes:

  • Code C: Cost of group-term life insurance of $50,000
  • Code D: Elective deferrals for a retirement under section 401(k)
  • Code E: Elective deferrals for retirement under section 403(b)
  • Code J: Nontaxable sick pay
  • Code P: Nontaxable moving expense reimbursements paid directly to an employee

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13. Retirement plans

The "Retirement plan" box will be checked if you are an eligible participant in one of Cornell's retirement plans.

Note: Do not check the "Statutory employee" box even if you work for a Cornell statutory (contract) college.

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14. Other

Contains New York State (NYS) retirement deductions under IRS Section 414(h).

Caution: Follow instructions for NYS income tax return carefully. NYS generally classifies the amount as taxable.

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15. State

Identifies the state to which the wage report applies.

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16. State wages, tips, etc.

Contains the amount of state wages reported to the state listed in Box 15.

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17. State income tax

Contains the amount of state income tax withheld and reported to the state identified in Box 15.

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18. Local wages, tips, etc.

Contains the amount of local wages reported to the locality identified in Box 20.

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19. Local income tax

Contains the amount of local income tax withheld from earnings and reported to the locality identified in Box 20.

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20. Locality name

Contains the locality that receives the report, if applicable.

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