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. a. 

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

  2. b. 

    “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. a. 

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

  2. b. 

    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. a. 

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

  2. b. 

    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. a. 

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

  2. b. 

    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, tips, other compensation.”

2. Assumption

Assume the amount shown in box 13 (“Social Security wages”) includes the amount shown in box 16a.

F. Policy - Form W-2's from Government Agencies - Medicare Qualified Government Employment (MQGE) Only

1. Beginning 1983

Federal and other non-covered governmental entities were included for Medicare, and the Medicare portion of the Social Security tax was deducted from the wages of virtually all governmental employees who are not subject to the full Social Security tax.

NOTE:  For State and local employment see RS 01505.025.

2. Form W-2's

These forms will show wages subject only to the Medicare tax in box 13, “Social Security wages,”and the amount of the tax in box 11 “Social Security tax withheld” will reflect the Medicare rate.


MQGE will be annotated on the W-2's in box 16.

NOTE:  There may be some variations with free-form W-2's.

4. No Posting

These wages should not be posted for RSDI purposes.

5. Acceptability

These forms are acceptable for Medicare purposes only.

G. Background - Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)

1. Description

  1. a. 

    The FEIN is a 9 digit number.

  2. b. 

    The first 2 digits, which are generally followed by a dash (-), indicate the Internal Revenue District (IRD) which issued the EIN.

2. State and Local Employment


  1. a. 

    before 1987, had 2 FEIN's:

    • one assigned by IRS (for income tax withholding); and

    • another assigned by SSA (which always began with the same 2 digits, “69”) for SSA's collection of contributions (i.e., Social Security taxes); this is shown in the employer's name and address box (2).

  2. b. 

    from 1/1/87 on, still have 2 FEIN's:

    • one assigned by IRS for the collection of both income and Social Security taxes; and

    • one “69” FEIN assigned by SSA for coverage identification and cross-referral purposes.

  3. c. 

    from 1/1/87 on, will show only the IRS FEIN on W-2's.

3. Uniformed Service FEIN's

To Link to this section - Use this URL:
RS 01403.041 - What Information Must Be Shown on Forms W-2/W-2c - 07/26/2002
Batch run: 07/03/2014