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.
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)
Note: Box 1 should agree with Federal Taxable Gross, YTD information stated on the last paycheck for the calendar year.
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."
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.
Contains the social security tax withheld from your earnings for the "Old Age Survivors and Disability Insurance" (OASDI) component of social security taxes.
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).
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). Includes additional 0.09% if Medicare taxes are above $200,000.
This box contains social security tip wages and is for informational purposes only. The tip income is reported in this box is already included in boxes 1, 3 and 5. When added with Box 3, "Social security wages," this amount should equal Box 5, "Medicare wages and tips."
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.
Limited use for Cornell employees.
Box 12 Codes:
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.
Contains New York State (NYS) retirement deductions under IRS Section 414(h), miscellaneous Tax information for CA and NJ, and United Way and Care Fund deductions.
Caution: Follow instructions for NYS income tax return carefully. NYS generally classifies the amount as taxable.
Identifies the state to which the wage report applies.
Contains the amount of state wages reported to the state listed in Box 15.
Contains the amount of state income tax withheld and reported to the state identified in Box 15.
Contains the amount of local wages reported to the locality identified in Box 20.
Contains the amount of local income tax withheld from earnings and reported to the locality identified in Box 20.
Contains the locality that receives the report, if applicable.
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