This is one in a continuing series on the 2008 Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, which employers must generally furnish to employees no later than February 2, 2009. Forms mailed on the due date are considered furnished if properly addressed. Employers unable to meet that deadline may file a request for extension of time to furnish the forms. Today we review Box 2, federal income tax withheld.
Box 2 shows the amount employees must enter on line 62 of Form 1040, US Individual Income Tax Return. Employers determine the amount of withheld federal income tax each pay period by the amount of taxable wages, the pay frequency, and the number of withholding allowances claimed on Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. Spanish-speaking employees may complete Formulario W-4(SP), Certificado de Exención de la Retención del Empleado. Employers may use either the percentage method or the wage bracket method to calculate the amount of tax to withhold. Both methods are explained in Publication 15, (Circular E) Employer’s Tax Guide. Employers should not accept “reverse withholding” where employees write checks to the employer to pay withholding tax. Employees should make such payments using Form 1040-ES. Also, any amounts that employers pay toward an employee’s withholding to “gross-up” non-cash payments such as taxable fringe benefits must also be included as wages in boxes 1, 3, 5, and 7 as required.