Vision Payroll

January 2, 2011

2010 Form W-2 Tips, Part 4, Box 3 Social Security Wages

This is one in a continuing series on the 2010 Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, which employers must generally furnish to employees no later than January 31, 2011. 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 3, social security wages.

Social Security Earnings Help Determine the Amount of Social Security Benefits

Box 3 shows the amount wages paid subject to social security tax. It does not include social security tips reported in box 7 or allocated tips reported in box 8. Wages should be reduced by amounts withheld for non-taxable benefits elected under §125 plans, certain clergy housing allowances, and third-party sick pay after the end of six calendar months after the calendar month that the employee last worked for the employer. For 2010, the combined total of boxes 3 and 7 cannot exceed $106,800. Since social security benefits are based on the amount of social security wages reported to the Social Security Administration (SSA), it is important that employees periodically review their social security earnings record and provide the SSA with the Form W-2 to update any incorrectly posted earnings records.

Box 4, Social Security Tax Withheld Is the Next Topic

The next topic in this continuing series will be Box 4, social security tax withheld. Contact Vision Payroll with any questions on the 2010 Form W-2.

December 28, 2010

2010 Form W-2 Tips, Part 2, Box 1 Wages, Tips, Other Compensation

2010 Form W-2 Tips, Part 2, Box 1 Wages, Tips, Other Compensation
2010 Form W-2 Tips, Part 2, Box 1 Wages, Tips, Other Compensation
This is one in a continuing series on the 2010 Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, which employers must generally furnish to employees no later than January 31, 2011. 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 1, wages, tips, other compensation.

Box 1 May Include Several Adjustments To Gross Wages

Box 1 shows the amount employees must enter on line 7 of Form 1040, US Individual Income Tax Return. It may be, but is not necessarily, equal to gross wages. Common adjustments that increase or decrease gross wages include the following:

  • Employee elective deferral to qualified retirement plans such as §401(k) plans, SIMPLE plans, and §403(b) plans (decrease).
  • Amounts withheld for non-taxable benefits elected under §125 plans (decrease).
  • Taxable non-cash fringe benefits, such as personal use of company automobile (increase).
  • Certain clergy housing allowances (decrease).
  • Reported tips (increase).
  • Expense reimbursements paid under a non-accountable plan (increase).
  • Accident and health insurance premiums for so-called 2% S corporation shareholders (increase).
  • Cost of group-term life insurance in excess of $50,000 (increase).

Box 2, Federal Income Tax Withheld Is the Next Topic

The next topic in this continuing series will be Box 2, federal income tax withheld. Contact Vision Payroll with any questions on the 2010 Form W-2.

January 2, 2010

2009 Form W-2 Tips, Part 4, Box 3 Social Security Wages

This is one in a continuing series on the 2009 Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, which employers must generally furnish to employees no later than February 1, 2010. 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 3, social security wages.

Box 3 shows the amount wages paid subject to social security tax. It does not include social security tips reported in box 7 or allocated tips reported in box 8. Wages should be reduced by amounts withheld for non-taxable benefits elected under §125 plans, certain clergy housing allowances, and third-party sick pay after the end of six calendar months after the calendar month that the employee last worked for the employer. For 2009, the combined total of boxes 3 and 7 cannot exceed $106,800. Since social security benefits are based on the amount of social security wages reported to the Social Security Administration (SSA), it is important that employees periodically review their social security earnings record and provide the SSA with the Form W-2 to update any incorrectly posted earnings records.

The next topic in this continuing series will be Box 4, social security tax withheld. Contact Vision Payroll with any questions on the 2009 Form W-2.

December 28, 2009

2009 Form W-2 Tips, Part 2, Box 1 Wages, Tips, Other Compensation

This is one in a continuing series on the 2009 Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, which employers must generally furnish to employees no later than February 1, 2010. 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 1, wages, tips, other compensation.

Box 1 shows the amount employees must enter on line 7 of Form 1040, US Individual Income Tax Return. It may be, but is not necessarily, equal to gross wages. Common adjustments that increase or decrease gross wages include the following:

  • Employee elective deferral to qualified retirement plans such as §401(k) plans, SIMPLE plans, and §403(b) plans (decrease).
  • Amounts withheld for non-taxable benefits elected under §125 plans (decrease).
  • Taxable non-cash fringe benefits, such as personal use of company automobile (increase).
  • Certain clergy housing allowances (decrease).
  • Reported tips (increase).
  • Expense reimbursements paid under a non-accountable plan (increase).
  • Accident and health insurance premiums for so-called 2% S corporation shareholders (increase).
  • Cost of group-term life insurance in excess of $50,000 (increase).

The next topic in this continuing series will be Box 2, federal income tax withheld. Contact Vision Payroll with any questions on the 2009 Form W-2.

January 23, 2009

Question of the Week: Why Did My FIT Withheld Go Down?

This week’s question comes from Greg, a part-time accounts payable clerk. I made almost the same amount of money in 2008 as I did in 2007, but the amount of my federal income tax (FIT) withheld is significantly lower. Why did my FIT withheld go down? There are several reasons why your FIT withheld could be significantly lower, even though your income was almost the same.

  1. Inflation creep. Each year, as inflation reduces the value of the dollar, tax tables in Publication 15 (Circular E) are adjusted so that less tax would be withheld on the same amount of income. This is to adjust for the reduced buying power of the same dollar amount of income.
  2. Reduced income. At certain low-income levels, no tax is withheld if the withholding allowances claimed are greater than zero. Even FIT withholding of a few dollars each week can add up to a few hundred-dollar difference at year-end compared to no withholding at certain low-income levels.
  3. Increased withholding allowances. Many employees file a revised Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate or Formulario W-4(SP), Certificado de Exención de la Retención del Empleado. If the number of withholding allowances claimed increases, the amount of FIT withheld will decrease. Instead of receiving a big refund when a Form 1040 is filed, the employee receives a small net pay increase each week. Some employees also file Form W-4 claiming exemption from all FIT withholding.
  4. Claiming Earned Income Credit. Many employees file a new or revised Form W-5, Earned Income Credit Advance Payment Certificate. As in the case of increased withholding allowances, claiming an advance EIC payment will increase net pay received each week, but could reduce the amount of FIT withheld.
  5. Increase in pre-tax deductions. Employees who increase the amount of a §125 election or elect to contribute more money to a pre-tax retirement plan such as a SIMPLE plan or §401(k) plan, could have a significantly reduced amount of FIT withheld on the same amount of gross pay. Since those amounts are deducted before FIT withholding is calculated, the FIT deduction should be reduced.

Employees should work with their CPA to project their FIT liability for the current year then assess their progress toward meeting that liability each quarter. If the projected FIT withholding be less than the annualized projected liability a revised Form W-4 or Form W-5 should be filed or the need to pay quarterly estimated tax payments using Form 1040-ES should be considered. Employers should update the allowances claimed by logging in to their company file or providing Vision Payroll with the updated information.

January 6, 2009

2008 Form W-2 Tips, Part 4, Box 3 Social Security Wages

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 3, social security wages.

Box 3 shows the amount wages paid subject to social security tax. It does not include social security tips reported in box 7 or allocated tips reported in box 8. Wages should be reduced by amounts withheld for non-taxable benefits elected under §125 plans, certain clergy housing allowances, and third-party sick pay after the end of six calendar months after the calendar month that the employee last worked for the employer. For 2008, the combined total of boxes 3 and 7 cannot exceed $102,000. Since social security benefits are based on the amount of social security wages reported to the Social Security Administration (SSA), it is important that employees periodically review their social security earnings record and provide the SSA with the Form W-2 to update any incorrectly posted earnings records.

The next topic in this continuing series will be Box 4, social security tax withheld. Contact Vision Payroll with any questions on the 2008 Form W-2.

December 21, 2008

2008 Form W-2 Tips, Part 2, Box 1 Wages, Tips, Other Compensation

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 1, wages, tips, other compensation.

Box 1 shows the amount employees must enter on line 7 of Form 1040, US Individual Income Tax Return. It may be, but is not necessarily, equal to gross wages. Common adjustments that increase or decrease gross wages include the following:

  • Employee elective deferral to qualified retirement plans such as §401(k) plans, SIMPLE plans, and §403(b) plans (decrease).
  • Amounts withheld for non-taxable benefits elected under §125 plans (decrease).
  • Taxable non-cash fringe benefits, such as personal use of company automobile (increase).
  • Certain clergy housing allowances (decrease).
  • Reported tips (increase).
  • Expense reimbursements paid under a non-accountable plan (increase).
  • Accident and health insurance premiums for so-called 2% S corporation shareholders (increase).
  • Cost of group-term life insurance in excess of $50,000 (increase).

The next topic in this continuing series will be Box 2, federal income tax withheld. Contact Vision Payroll with any questions on 2008 Form W-2.

December 5, 2008

Question of the Week: Why Didn’t My FICA Tax Deduction Stop?

This week’s question comes from Janet, a sales rep: I read before that the wage base for 2008 was $102,000. I’ve made over $104,000, but FICA tax is still being withheld. Why didn’t my FICA tax deduction stop? Answer: Even though your gross wages are over $104,000, the FICA tax deduction doesn’t stop until FICA taxable wages reach $102,000 and FICA tax withheld reaches $6,324. Some wage deductions such as cafeteria or §125 plan deductions reduce the amount of FICA taxable wages. So, even though your gross earnings are over $102,000, FICA tax must be withheld until the maximum withholding is reached. Contact Vision Payroll if you have any questions on the Social Security wage base.

October 6, 2008

IRS Issues Notice on FSA Distributions to Reservists

The IRS recently issued Notice 2008-82 which provides guidance on the recently enacted §114 of the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008 (the HEART Act). The HEART Act amended §125 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (IRC) to allow distributions of unused amounts in a Health Flexible Spending Arrangement (Health FSA, also called a 125 or cafeteria plan) to reservists ordered or called to active duty. In addition to providing guidance on “qualified reservist distributions” or QRDs, the Notice provides a transition rule allowing plans to be retroactively amended for QRDs made before January 1, 2010. Contact Vision Payroll if you have any questions on Notice 2008-82.

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