W2 Forms Deciphering 2024 W-2 Boxes and Instructions

Image of Form W-2 2023

Form W2 Boxes: Detailed Instructions

As an employer, it is mandatory to file Form W2 with the SSA and provide a copy to each employee by January 31st of each year. In addition, depending on your state's requirements, you may also need to file Form W-2 with the state. To ensure accurate completion of the W-2 for the 2023 tax year, familiarize yourself with the W2 instructions. In this guide, we'll explain the purpose of each box and how to complete them.

Understanding the Purpose of Form W-2

Form W-2 is a wage tax form that reports the gross wages paid to employees and the taxes (social security, income, and Medicare) withheld from these employees to the Social Security Administration (SSA).

All Features Included

Purchasing any BoomTax package will give you everything you need to complete your filing.

This includes:

  • Federal E-File
  • State E-File
  • Recipient Copy Download as PDF
  • Official IRS Copy Download as PDF
  • Unlimited Corrections

W-2 Bulk Import

Import many companies in one spreadsheet to simplify data input.

Data Validation

We validate your data against hundreds of IRS rules.

Hands Off E-File

No IRS registration or testing required.

Free Corrections

Make as many changes as needed for free.

Quick Overview of W-2 Boxes and Instructions

Accurately filling out your W-2 is crucial to avoid penalties resulting from incomplete or incorrect information. Therefore, we will guide you through each box of Form W2 and provide the necessary information to be entered.

Employer Information: Name, EIN, Employer Type, and Address

Image of Form W2 Employer Boxes 2023

Box b - Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Input the employer's whole EIN. Do not truncate or mask or use the prior owner's EIN.
Example: 00-0000000

Box c - Employer's name and address

Input the employer's name and complete address, including the ZIP code.

The U.S. Postal Service recommends avoiding commas or periods in return addresses.

Box d - Control number

Optional. This may be used to identify particular forms.

Employee Information: Name, SSN, Address, and Contact Details

Image of Form W2 Empoyee Boxes 2023

Box a - Employee's Social Security Number

Input the employee's whole SSN. Do not truncate or mask.

Box e - Employee's name

Input the employee's full name: first, middle initial, and last name.

It is crucial to report the exact last name of the employee. Do not use titles such as "Dr.", "RN", or "Esq".

Box f - Employee's address

Input the employee's complete address, including the suite/apartment number and ZIP code.

The U.S. Postal Service recommends avoiding commas or periods in return addresses.

Federal Information: W-2 boxes

Image of Form W2 Boxes 2023

Box 1 - Wages, tips, other compensation

Input the total taxable wages, tips, and other compensation paid to your employee for the year. Do not include elective deferrals.

Elective deferrals include employee contributions to a section 401(k) or 403(b) plan.

Box 2 - Federal income tax withheld

Input the total federal income tax amount withheld from your employee's wages for the year. Include the 20% excise tax withheld on excess parachute payments.

Box 3 - Social Security wages

Show the total wages paid (before payroll deductions) subject to employee social security tax but not including social security tips and allocated tips.

Box 4 - Social Security tax withheld

Show the total employee social security tax withheld, including social security tax on tips.

Note: for 2024, the amount should not exceed $9,932.40 ($160,200 × 6.2%)

Box 5 - Medicare wages and tips

Input the employee's wages and tips subject to Medicare tax. In addition, enter any tips that the employee reported, even if there were insufficient funds to collect Medicare Tax.

Box 6 - Medicare tax withheld

Input the total amount of Medicare tax withheld (including any Additional Medicare Tax) for 2024.

Note: The total of boxes 3 and 7 should not be more than $160,200 (the maximum social security wage base for 2024)

Box 7 - Social Security tips

Input any tips the employee reported to the employer. In addition, enter any tips the employee reported, even if there were insufficient funds to collect Social Security Tax.

Box 8 - Allocated tips

(not applicable to Forms W-2AS, W-2CM, W-2GU, or W-2VI)

Input any tips allocated to the employee. Do not include this amount in boxes 1, 3, 5, or 7.

Note: generally applicable to large food or beverage establishment.

Box 9 - Reserved

Box 10 - Dependent care benefits

(not applicable to Forms W-2AS, W-2CM, W-2GU, or W-2VI)
Input the total dependent care benefits provided under a dependent care assistance program. Include any amounts over $5,000 in W2 boxes 1, 3, and 5.

Box 11 - Nonqualified plans

Input the amount of nonqualified plans distributed from the employer.

Box 12 - W2 Instruction Codes for Compensation and Benefits

Input the appropriate codes and corresponding amounts in this box. The codes and their descriptions are provided below:

Codes and Descriptions:

Single letter codes

Code Instructions


Uncollected social security or RRTA tax on tips


Uncollected social security or RRTA tax on taxable cost of group-term life insurance over $50,000 (for former employees only)


Uncollected Medicare tax on tips (but not Additional Medicare Tax)


Uncollected Medicare tax on taxable cost of group-term life insurance over $50,000 (but not Additional Medicare Tax)(for former employees only)s


Taxable cost of group-term life insurance over $50,000


Excludable moving expense reimbursements paid directly to members of the Armed Forces


Elective deferrals under a section 401(k) cash or deferred arrangement plan (including a SIMPLE 401(k) arrangement)


Non-taxable combat pay (only for military personnel)


Elective deferrals under a section 403(b) salary reduction agreement


Employer contributions to an Archer MSAs


Elective deferrals under a section 408(k)(6) salary reduction SEP


Employee salary reduction contributions under a section 408(p) SIMPLE plan


Elective deferrals and employer contributions (including nonelective deferrals) to a section 457(b) deferred compensation plan


Adoption benefits


Elective deferrals to a section 501(​c)(18)(D) tax-exempt organization plan


Income from the exercise of non-statutory stock option(s) (included in boxes 1, 3, and 5)


Non-taxable sick pay


Employer contributions (including employee contributions through a cafeteria plan) to an employee's health savings account (HSA)


20% excise tax on excess golden parachute payments


Deferrals under section 409A on a nonqualified deferred compensation plan


Substantiated employee business expense reimbursements


Income under a nonqualified deferred compensation plan that fails to satisfy section 409A

*Important Note: Box 12 codes are capitalized on Form W-2.

Double letter codes

Code Instructions


Designated Roth contributions under a section 401(k) plan


Designated Roth contributions under a section 403(b) plan


Cost of employer-sponsored health coverage


Designated Roth contributions under a governmental section 457(b) plan


Permitted benefits under a qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangement


Income from qualified equity grants under section 83(i)


Aggregate deferrals under section 83(i) elections as of the close of the calendar year

*Important Note: Box 12 codes are capitalized on Form W-2.

Box 13 - Checkboxes:

  1. Statutory employee: Mark this box for employees whose earnings are subject to social security and Medicare taxes but not federal income tax withholding.
  2. Retirement plan: Mark this box if the employee participates in any specified retirement plans.
  3. Third-party sick pay: Mark this box if you are a third-party sick pay provider filing a Form W-2 for an insured's employee or an employer reporting sick pay payments made by a third party.

Reminder: More than one box may be selected if applicable.

Box 14 - Other:

Employers use Box 14 to report details such as but not limited to:

  • Withheld state disability insurance taxes
  • Union dues
  • Uniform payments
  • Deducted health insurance premiums
  • Non-taxable income
  • Education assistance payments
  • Clergy members' parsonage allowances and utilities
  • Charitable donations via payroll deductions

Note: use this box for any other information that you want to give to your employee

State & Local Information:

These boxes allow reporting of wages and taxes for two states or localities. They should be entered on separate lines.

Image of Form W2 State & Local Boxes 2023

Box 15 - State Details:

Include the employer's state and state tax identification number.

Box 16 - State Wages, Tips, and Information:

Report State Wages and Tips (only complete if applicable).

Box 17 - State income tax:

Enter State income tax (only complete if applicable).

Box 18 - Local wages, tips, etc.:

Enter Local Wages and Tips (only complete if applicable).

Box 19 - Local income tax:

Enter local income tax (only complete if applicable).

Box 20 - Locality name:

Enter locality name (only complete if applicable).

How to Electronically File Form W-2 with BoomTax?

Import Your Form W-2 Data

You can import your data as Excel, XML, or use files from popular payroll providers like QuickBooks, UKG, ADP, and many more.

Step-By-Step Wizard

We walk you through the process with no complicated jargon. You can also live chat with a real person as you work on your filing for hands-on help.

E-File & Mail Employee Copies

Once your data is loaded, you can e-file and distribute employee copies in minutes.

There is no additional fee for filing prior-year W-2 tax forms with BoomTax; you can e-file at the same affordable rate as current-year forms.

BoomTax is an IRS-approved e-file provider that supports electronic filing for various business tax forms, including Forms W-2, 1099 Forms, ACA Forms, and more.

What are the 2024 deadlines for Form W-2?

  • January 31st, 2024
    Recipient Copies/Paper/E-file

    Form W-2 must be distributed by the employer to the recipient on or before January 31st

    Form W-2 must be mailed or E-Filed to the SSA on or before January 31st

Note: The deadline is typically the next business day if the deadline falls on a weekend or federal holiday.

E-filing vs. Paper Filing

small boomtax logo

  • Immediate real-time IRS updates
  • File 1000s of forms easily at once
  • Validates 1000s of IRS rules
  • Can help with questions in real-time in the chat

Paper Filing

  • It can take weeks to hear a status update
  • Requires unique red ink form
  • Prone to human error
  • No expert to help with questions

Note: SSA recommends that payers utilize the e-file option over paper filing for faster processing and immediate updates.

Ready to e-file your W-2s with ease? and start e-filing now!

We Like Making Customers Happy

Takes Only 30 Seconds