Descriptions of Each Box on Form W-2 (CY2012)
Box 1 "Wages, tips, other compensation": This is federal, taxable income for payments in the calendar year. The amount is calculated as YTD earnings minus pre-tax retirement and pre-tax benefit deductions plus taxable benefits (i.e., certain educational benefits).
Box 2 "Federal income tax withheld": This is federal income tax withheld from your pay based on your W-4. If you didn't file a W-4, the default is "single and 0" regardless of your marital status.
Box 3 "Social security wages": Social security wages are calculated as Federal Taxable Gross (Box 1) plus Retirement Deductions (Box 12). The maximum social security wage amount for 2011 is $106,800.
Box 4 "Social security tax withheld": This is social security tax withheld from your pay. For 2011, the amount should not exceed $4485.60 ($106,800 X 4.2%).
Box 5 "Medicare wages and tips": This is total wages and tips subject to the Medicare component of social security taxes.
Box 6 "Medicare tax withheld": This is Medicare tax withheld from your pay for the Medicare component of social security taxes. The rate is 1.45% of the Medicare wage base.
Box 7 "Social Security Tips": This is total reported tips subject to social security tax.
Box 8 "Allocated Tips": This amount is not included in boxes 1,3,5 or 7. For information on how to report tips on your tax return, see your Form 1040 instructions.
Box 9 "Advance EIC Payments": Enter this amount on the advance earned income credit payments line of your 1040 or 1040A.
Box 10 "Dependent care benefits": This is the pre-tax deduction under the Select Benefits Program for dependent care. This deduction is already reflected in box 1.
Box 11 "Nonqualified plans": This amount is reported in box 1 if it is a distribution made to you from a nonqualified deferred compensation or nongovernmental section 457 plan.
Box 12 "Box 12 Codes": The following codes are applicable to American University:
Code C - Taxable cost of group-term life insurance over $50,000
Code E - Elective deferrals under a section 403(b) salary reduction agreement
Code G – Elective deferrals and employer contributions (including non-elective deferrals) to a section 457(b) deferred compensation plan
Code P - Excludable moving expense reimbursements paid directly to employee. This amount is not reported in box 1.
Box 13: There are three check boxes in Box 13. Boxes will be checked off if any of these situations apply to you as an employee. Statutory employee means that you must report the wages from this W-2 (and any other W-2 forms marked "statutory employee") on Form 1040 Schedule C.
Box 15 "State, Employer's state ID number":
Box 16 "State wages, tips, etc":
Box 17 "State income tax":
Note: Instructions for boxes 13a, 13b, 13c, 14 and 18-20 are included on the web form but not here because they haven't changed for the past few years.