The deadline for employers to send out W-2 forms to their employees is approaching, with many employees having already received them. Some, however, may receive two W-2 forms from the same employer.
The W-2 form (Wage and Tax Statement) is an IRS form that states your income earned and taxes withheld from the prior year. Employers use these forms to report FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) taxes for employees. Employers are required to send these forms to their employees (except for the contracted or self-employed) and IRS at the end of the year and before the end of January in the next year.
What does a W-2 form contain?
Every W-2 has the same fields, regardless of the employer. The form is divided into state and federal sections, as employees are required to file taxes on both levels. Apart from some fields providing employer information, such as employer identification number or state ID, the form mostly contains details relating to an employee’s income from the previous year.
These details include the employee’s total earnings and the taxes withheld from their paycheck (separated into withholding for federal income tax, Social Security tax, and more). Tips earned by the employee, if applicable, are also shown.
Two W-2 forms from the same employer
It's normal for employees to get multiple W-2s if they work several jobs, but some confusion may arise when an employee gets two W-2s from the same employer. In some cases, this may be in error. If that happens, you need to report the issue to the IRS and send only one filled W-2 form.
Another scenario that may warrant multiple W-2s from the same employer is when you work in more than one capacity, with each paid on different pay scales. You’ll also receive two W-2 forms if you work in more than one location for the same employer, you work for an employment agency, or if your employer has changed payroll services or ownership. The point of multiple W-2s from the same employer is to enable you to report all of your income.
How to handle multiple W-2s from same employer
If your W-2s have a different employer identification number (EIN) in Box B, enter each one separately. However, if your W-2s are identical down to the last number and letter, use just one of them. Keep the duplicate with your tax records or destroy it.
You’ll also need to check if the federal wage information found in Boxes 1–14 is identical or blank in one of the W-2 forms, and if the state information in Boxes 15–17 or Boxes 18–20 is different. If the information is different, you’ll need to enter all the information in the W-2 form that’s most complete, and then enter the different state and local information from the other W-2.
If the only difference in the forms is Box 12, use the information in the form that’s almost complete. Enter the different information in Box 12 from the other W-2 on the same screen.