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How to Fill Out W-2 Form for an Employee

The W-2 form is a mandatory tax form for employers to provide to their employees no later than January 31 of the following year. Although W-2 is a simple form and requires inputting existing information from personnel records and payroll, many employers struggle to fill out the form. Therefore, we have crafted a complete guide for you in which we will discuss all the steps you have to take on how to fill out a W-2 form for an employee. So, let's head straight to it!

How to Fill Out W-2 Form: Step-by-Step Approach

W-2 is a one-page form that is divided into multiple fillable sections in different boxes with lettered and numeric field labeling. So, we will explain how to fill out a W-2 form for an employee by separating the lettered and numeric fields for easy understanding.

fill out w-2 form

Before we delve into the detailed steps of filling out a W-2 form for an employee, I'd like to introduce you to an ideal PDF editor that can significantly enhance the efficiency of this process: UPDF. UPDF is a comprehensive PDF editor that automatically recognizes fillable form fields, making it easy for you to fill them in. Furthermore, it offers a quick way to complete forms by allowing you to copy and paste information into the form fields. Let's begin by downloading UPDF and then proceed with the steps for filling out the W-2 form below. Or, you can learn more about it in the next part.

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1.     Lettered Fields (a-f)

There are a total of six lettered fields in the W-2 form, mainly located on the left side of the W-2 form. The purpose of these fields is to provide identification information about the employee and the employer. Let's go through each of the field's one-by-one:

fill out w-2 form letter fileds

Field a: Employee's Social Security Number

This field requires you to enter the 9-digit social security number of the employee for whom you are creating the W-2 form.

Field b: Employer Identification Number (EIN)

This field requires entering the IRS-provided 9-digit unique Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Field c: Employer's Name, Address, and ZIP Code

Enter your full name, complete business address, and ZIP code in this field.

Field d: Control Number

This field is optional. Here, you have to add the unique W-2 number of the employee as per your company's record that your payroll software has generated.

Field e & f: Employee's Name, Address, and ZIP Code

This field requires entering the employee's full name, address, and ZIP code.

2.     Numerical Fields (1-20)

After filling in the lettered fields, you should start filling in the 20 numerical fields. These fields are located on the right side of the W-2 form and continue to the bottom. These fields provide wage tax information (right-side columns) and state/local tax information (bottom columns). Let's go through each of the field's one-by-one:

fill out w-2 form numerical fields

Field 1: Wages, Tips, Other Compensation

This field requires you to enter all the employee's taxable income, including any tips, bonuses, or other compensations.

Field 2: Federal Income Tax Withheld

This field is about the federal income tax you withheld from the wage of the concerned employee and remitted to the IRS. It mainly depends on the count of withholding allowances designated on the W-4 form.

Field 3: Social Security Wages

This field requires the total wage of the employee subject to Social Security tax. The number should not be higher than $160,200, as this is the Social Security tax limit in 2023.

Field 4: Social Security Tax Withheld

This field requires you to enter the amount you withheld from the Social Security wages/tips of the employee. An employee's Social Security tax portion is 6.2% of his/her wage. However, it should not be above $9,932 for 2023.

Field 5: Medicare Wages and Tips

Enter the employee's total earnings from Medicare wages and tips. It is the same as Social Security wages (field 3) but has no $160,200 limit.

Field 6: Medicare Tax Withheld

This field requires you to enter the amount you withheld from the employee's Medicare. The Medicare tax share of employees is 1.45% of their wages.

Field 7: Social Security Tips

Enter the tips that the employee has earned and reported. Make sure that Field 7 + Field 3 = Field 1.

Field 8: Allocated Tips

You will use this field if you are running a large food or beverage company. If the reported tips by the employee fall below the percentage rate approved by the IRS, you are allowed to compensate employees via allocated tips. However, these tips are not part of the taxable income, so you don't have to mention them in the fields 1, 3, 5, or 7.

Field 9: Advance EIC Payment

This box always remains blank.

Field 10: Dependent Care Benefits

This field allows you to enter the amount you compensated to the employee for the expenses of the dependent care.

Field 11: Nonqualified Plans

Enter any amount you gave to employees from a non-qualified deferred compensation plan or non-government Section 457 pension plan. Make sure this amount is included in Field 1.

Field 12: Deferred Compensation

The IRS recognizes many different types of deferred compensation, which can lower the employee's taxable amount. Each deferred compensation has its own tax code. So, you can use this field to report deferred compensation with relevant codes. For example, if the employee is elected for a $1,000 retirement plan, the entry will be "D | 1,000.00". You can add up to 4 codes in one W-2 form.

Field 13: Checkboxes for Statutory Employees, Retirement Plan, and Third Party Sick Pay

This field requires you to tick the three checkboxes as per your scenario:

  • Statutory Employee: It represents an employee who works with your company but does not get compensation as a regular payment (more like a 100% commission-based employee).
  • Retirement Plan: If the employee has access to 403b or 401k at work, you need to tick this checkbox.
  • Third Party Sick Pay: If the employee has received some compensation from outside, such as an insurance company, tick this checkbox.

Field 14: Other

This field allows you to enter any other compensation you provided to the employee that does not fall under any other W-2 form box.

Field 15: State ID Number

The State ID number is similar to EINs, mainly meant to recognize your business for tax purposes. It is valid for a particular state only.

Field 16: State Wages, Tips, etc.

Enter the employee income that is taxable at the state level.

Field 17: State Income Tax

This field requires you to enter the state income tax amount you withheld over the year from the employee's checks.

Field 18: Local Wages, Tips, etc.

Enter the employee income that is taxable in your locality.

Field 19: Local Income Tax

This field is used if the localities where you do business demand employees to pay local income tax.

Field 20: Locality Name

Enter a short description of the town or city that withheld taxes.

That's it! This is how to fill out W-2 form for an employee. All you need is access to personal information and payroll data to fill in all the entries on the form.

Bonus Tip: How to Fill Out the W-2 Form Effortlessly for All Employees Within Minutes

Filling out the W-2 form is straightforward and requires reentering the personnel and payroll data entries. Since it is the employer who should fill out the W-2 form, the process can become overwhelming if there are dozens of employees. For that, you need powerful software that makes it easy and quick to fill out W-2 forms. This is where UPDF comes to the rescue.

UPDF is a powerful PDF editor tool that provides an easy-to-use and fast interface to fill W-2 forms with ease. It can intelligently access the entry areas in the W-2 form and allow you to simply type the information instead of spending time entering the details manually.

The below steps reflect how easy it is to use UPDF for filling out the W-2 form:

  1. Download and launch UPDF on your system.

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  1. Open the IRS W-2 form file with UPDF.
  2. Click Prepare Form and then click "Form Field Recognition" under the "Settings" icon from the top bar. This will let the tool recognize fillable entries. Afterward, get back to the "Reader" mode.
w-2 form field recognition with updf on windows
  1. Click the form entries one by one and fill out the details. Once done, you can share or print instantly.
fill out w-2 form updf

In short, UPDF saves significant time and effort in filling out the W-2 form. Besides that, it also offers other PDF-related features to assist in almost all PDF activities, such as editing text/images, annotating, converting, compressing, merging, organizing, and many more. So, download UPDF and use it right away to fill out the W-2 form.

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Video Tutorial on How to Create, Fill, and Sign PDF Forms


This guide has discussed in detail how to fill out W-2 form for employees step-by-step. It is recommended to start by filling in the lettered fields (a-f) and then head for the numerical fields. Furthermore, you can expedite the process by using UPDF, which provides a seamless and fast way to fill entries and print them on the go.

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