Things to Know About W2s

If you've worked for any length of time, you know one of the rites of winter is the arrival of the W-2 form. All of those dollars that do -- and don't -- show up on your take-home pay are accounted for on the W-2. Your employer has to send you a W-2 so you have all the numbers necessary to file your income taxes for the previous year. The Social Security Administration also gets a copy to help determine your Social Security and Medicare wages, and it eventually goes to the Internal Revenue Service.

Can a W2 Be Handwritten?

The Social Security Administration scans the images of your earnings into a computer and transfers them to the Internal Revenue Service. That practice means W-2s must be typed in black ink, and must be in 12 point Courier font. If your employer does give you a handwritten W-2, you can still use the information when you file. If there is a problem with the form, your employer will have to deal with it -- not you.

Can You Send a Copy of Your W2s With Your Taxes?

When you paper-file your taxes, or send them through the mail, the IRS expects you to toss in Copy B of your W-2. If you file electronically, the IRS doesn't need the form, but you should show your W-2 to the person preparing your taxes. If you do your own taxes using a computer program, put in all of the W-2 information and keep the form with your records. You'll get a letter from the IRS if it needs to validate the form.

Can Pay Stubs Be Used in Place of W2 Forms to File Taxes?

Waiting for your W-2 can make anyone anxious, especially if you think you'll have a nice refund. It could be tempting to use the numbers on your last pay stub to file, but those may not be accurate. If you don't get your W-2 within the first few days of February, call your employer and ask for another copy. If it's still not in your hands by Feb. 14, call the IRS. If you must file your taxes using your last pay stub, send it in with Form 4852, or a Substitute for Form W-2. However, if you're still thinking about that nice refund, this may not help you. The IRS will need to verify the information with your employer, and that could hold up the processing schedule.

How Much Must You Make to Get a W2?

As of 2012, if your income from an employer topped $600, that employer owes you a W-2. If you made less than that, you'll only get one if the boss withheld income taxes. If you claimed exempt, your employer probably didn't withhold taxes. Even so, you should still get a W-2 to show what taxes would have been held back if you had not claimed exempt.

Can You File Your Taxes as Single if Your W2s Are in Your Maiden Name?

Once you tie the knot, the IRS views you as married for the entire year even if you said your vows on Dec. 31. The name on your W-2 has nothing to do with your filing status. Although you can't claim single once you're married, you can still file separately from your hubby using the married filing separately status. This lets you separate your income from your spouse's, and leaves you liable for only your portion of the tax. If you live in the same house as your partner, you must file either jointly or separately.


About the Author

Angela M. Wheeland specializes in topics related to taxation, technology, gaming and criminal law. She has contributed to several websites and serves as the lead content editor for a construction-related website. Wheeland holds an Associate of Arts in accounting and criminal justice. She has owned and operated her own income tax-preparation business since 2006.