TN 13 (07-90)

RS 01403.041 What Information Must Be Shown on Forms W-2/W-2c

A. Policy - IRS Requirements

1. General

All employee wage and tax statements and correction statements (whether or not the wages shown on such statements are subject to income tax withholding) must be made on:

  1. Forms W-2/W-2c printed and distributed by the Department of the Treasury (through IRS); or

  2. “free-form W-2/W-2c's” prepared by employers but approved by IRS (usually computer - prepared).

2. Forms W-2/W-2c

Both forms show items by sequential number and item description. See exhibits in RS 01403.100 (Form W-2) and RS 01403.105 (Form W-2c).

3. Free-Form W-2/W-2c's

These forms must contain all information as on IRS W-2/W-2c's forms and have the same item descriptions; however, they do not have to be numbered nor in the same sequence, if numbered.

EXCEPTION:  This does not apply to Copy A which must meet certain specifications to be machine-read.

4. Social Security

This box on these forms should show the amount of employee Social Security tax applicable to the Social Security wages even if the employer has paid the employee's share of Social Security tax.

5. Wages, Tips, Other Compensation

This box on these forms should include an employee's gross income for income tax purposes (1978 on) which could include amounts not subject to withholding (e.g., remuneration paid to statutory employees—RS 02101.300).

NOTE:  Prior to 1978, this description was generally labeled “total wages for income tax purposes.”


  1. Prior to 1983, “Social Security” item descriptions were shown as FICA—for the Federal Insurance Contributions Act.

  2. Prior to 1978, no wage entry had to be shown in the total FICA wages box if FICA wages were the same as total wages for income tax purposes.

7. Military W-2's for 1988 On

If they include compensation for inactive duty training, they should have a remark in block 16 (e.g., “includes drill pay”) if the amount is included in block 13, Social Security wages. See RS 01404.200 ff.

B. Policy - Agricultural Forms

1. Prior to 1978


2. 1978 On

Accept if:

  1. there is an entry in the box showing Social Security wages; and

  2. the box showing Social Security tax withheld is consistent with the Social Security wage amount.

C. Procedure - Agricultural Forms

1. Determine Consistency

Use guidelines in RS 01403.042. See also RS 01404.300.

2. Tax Withheld

Forms W-2/W-2c may not have entries in “Federal income tax withheld” since agricultural wages are not generally subject to Federal income tax withholding.

3. Caution

If the W-2 does not show total cash Social Security wages of $150 or more, you may need to request further information with Form SSA-7011-F4 and SSA-1002 (i.e., there may be a question of coverage). For further instructions see RS 01403.037 B., RS 01402.210 ff., and RS 01901.010.

D. Procedure - Form W-2's Which Show Tip Income

1. Determine Consistency

  1. Add wages to tips and use consistency guidelines in RS 01403.042.

  2. Note that employers may report taxes not withheld in box 16 on Form W-2. See RS 01404.300.

2. Form W-2's

Only those tips that were reported to the employer are shown which, when added to wages, do not exceed the maximum taxable amount. See RS 01404.300.

3. Allocated Tips

These are not wages (tips) for Social Security purposes.

4. Lag and Pre-Lag Development

See RS 01404.001 ff.

E. Policy - Form W-2's with Fringe Benefits

1. Beginning 1986

Form W-2's contain a box (16a) with the item description: “Fringe benefits incl. in Box 10.”

NOTE:  Box 10 is described as “Wages