2018 Explanation of your W2

W-2 Box Descriptions for Employees

It’s important for every employee to understand their W-2. Below you’ll see information to help you understand the W-2.

If you have specific questions, please see the IRS Instructions for Forms W-2 (2018) or check with your employer.

Journey Employer Solutions produces your W-2 on your employer’s behalf utilizing the information provided to us.  If you have specific questions regarding amounts on your W-2, please contact your employer or CPA.  If necessary, your employer will contact Journey on your behalf.  Journey is not permitted to modify W-2 information without your employer’s  consent or instruction.  Discuss any discrepancies with your employer and have them contact Journey regarding the issue rather than reaching out to us directly.  This is the most efficient way to get your issue resolved.

A – Employee’s Social Security Number (SSN)

Double check to confirm your W-2 shows your correct social security.

B – Employer Identification Number (EIN)

This is your employer’s unique tax identification number. What a SSN is to a person, an EIN is to a business.

C – Employer’s Name, Address, & Zip Code

This identifies the name and legal address of your employer.

D – Control Number

This is an optional field for employer use.

E/F – Employee’s Name, Suffix, Address, & Zip Code

This identifies your full name as shown on your Social Security card and mailing address. Please confirm this is printed correctly.

1 – Wages, Tips, Other Compensation

This is the total of your total federal taxable wages, tips, and other compensation and taxable fringe benefits.

This can include, wages, bonuses, prizes, awards, back pay, executive life insurance, taxable employee business expense reimbursements, commissions, severance, dismissal pay, vacation pay, non-cash fringe benefits, and/or non-qualified moving expenses.

This does not include 401(k), 403(b) employee contributions, federal exempt wages, medical contributions, health care and dependent care contributions, and/or other pre-tax contributions.

2 – Federal Income Tax Withheld

This is the amount withheld for federal income taxes throughout the year from your paycheck. How you fill our Form-W4 and how much you are paid, determines how much tax is withheld. If you feel your withholdings are not accurate, please consult with a CPA.

3 – Social Security Wages

This is the total amount of wages subject to the Social Security tax. For 2017, you can be taxed up $127,200. Any income beyond that gross pay will not be taxed social security.

4 – Social Security Tax Withheld

This is the amount of Social Security taxes withheld from your paycheck. For 2018, the Social Security tax is 6.2% of your income, which means the amount should equal to 6.2% of the wages listed in Box 3. The highest figure that can be shown in Box 4 is $7,886.40 ($127,200 maximum wage base times 6.2%).

5 – Medicare Wages & Tips

This is the total wages, tips, and other compensation subject to Medicare taxes. Medicare generally doesn’t include any pre-tax deductions and will include most taxable benefits. There is no cap for Medicare taxes, means the figure in Box 5 may be the largest number on your Form W-2.

6 – Medicare Tax Withheld

This is the amount of taxes withheld from your paycheck for the Medicare tax. In 2018, the Medicare tax has a flat rate of 1.45% of your total Medicare wages listed in Box 5. Unlike Social Security, where there’s a max that you can be taxed on, Medicare can have an additional tax when you reach a higher income. Please see your CPA if this affects your household.

7 – Social Security Tips

This is the amount of tip income you reported to your employer.

8 – Allocated Tips

If you work for a food or beverage establishment, this box reports any tip income allocated to you by your employer. This amount is not included in Boxes 1, 3, 5, or 7.

9 – Verification Code

If you are e-filing and if there is a code in this box, enter it when prompted. Valid characters are the letters A-F and the digits 0-9. This code assists the IRS in validating the W-2 data submitted with your return. The code is not entered on paper-filed returns.

10 – Dependent Care Benefits

This is the total amount of any dependent care benefits paid to you or incurred on your behalf by your employer. Amounts less than $5,000 are non-taxable benefits, and any amount more than $5,000 is reported as taxable wages in Boxes 1, 3, and 5.

This would possibly include employer provided day care costs, employer reimbursed day care costs, or benefits from the pre-tax contributions made by the employee under a section 125 dependent care flexible spending account.

11 – Non-qualified Plans

This is the amount distributed to you from non-governmental section 457(b) plan or non-qualified deferred compensation plans (taxable amount is located in Box 1). Please note that this is not the amounts contributed by you (that is in Box 12).

12 – Deferred Compensation & Other Compensation

Box 12 will report a code followed with an amount. Some of these codes have already been reported elsewhere on the W2, though others have not been reported on your W-2. Here are the codes for Box 12:

Code A – Uncollected Social Security or RRTA tax on tips.

Code B – Uncollected Medicare tax on tips.

Code C – Taxable benefit of group term-life insurance over $50,000. Already included as part of your taxable wages in Boxes 1, 3 (up to the Social Security wage base), and 5.

Code D – Non-taxable elective salary deferrals to a 401(k) or SIMPLE 401(k) retirement plan.

Code E – Non-taxable elective salary deferrals to a 403(b) retirement plan.

Code F – Non-taxable elective salary deferrals to a 408(k)(6) SEP retirement plan.

Code G – Non-taxable elective salary deferrals and non-elective employer contributions to any governmental or non-governmental section 457(b) retirement plan.

Code H – Non-taxable elective salary deferrals to a 501(c)(18)(D) tax-exempt plan. This amount is included in Box 1 wages. You will deduct this amount on your Form 1040.

Code J – Non-taxable sick pay. This amount is not included in taxable wages in Boxes 1, 3, or 5.

Code K – Excise tax (equal to 20%) on excess “golden parachute” payments.  See form 1040 instructions.

Code L – Non-taxable reimbursements for employee business expense reimbursements.

Code M – Uncollected Social Security or RRTA tax on taxable group term life insurance over $50,000 for former employees.

Code N – Uncollected Medicare tax on taxable group term life insurance over $50,000 for former employees.

Code P – Excludable moving expense reimbursements paid directly to a member of the U.S. Armed Forces (not included in box 1, 3, or 5)

Code Q – Non-taxable combat pay. See instructions for form 1040 for details on reporting.

Code R – Employer contributions to an Archer Medical Savings Account.  Report on Form 8853.

Code S – Non-taxable salary reduction contributions under a 408(p) SIMPLE retirement plan.

Code T – Employer-paid adoption benefits. This amount is not included in Box 1 wages. Complete form 8839.

Code V – Income from the exercise of non-statutory stock options. This amount is already included as taxable income in Boxes 1, 3 (up to the Social Security wage base), and 5.

Code W – Employer contributions to your Health Savings Account. Employer contributions, including amounts the employee elected to contribute using a section 125 (cafeteria) plan, to your Health Savings Account. Report on Form 8889, Health Savings Accounts.

Code Y – Salary deferrals under 409A non-qualified deferred compensation plan.

Code Z – Income received under 409A non-qualified deferred compensation plan. This amount is already included in taxable wages in Box 1, and is subject to additional tax.  See Form 1040 for instructions.

Code AA – After-tax contributions to a Roth 401(k) retirement plan.

Code BB – After-tax contributions to a Roth 403(b) retirement plan.

Code DD – The cost of non-taxable health insurance provided through your employer. The amount reported with Code DD is not taxable.

Code EE – After-tax contributions to a Roth 457(b) retirement plan offered by government employers.

Code FF – Permitted benefits under a qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangement.

Code GG – Income from qualified equity grants under section 83(i).

Code HH – Aggregate deferrals under section 83(i) elections as of the close of the calendar year.

13 – Checkboxes

There are three checkboxes in Box 13. Boxes will be checked if any of these situations apply to you as an employee.

Statutory employees are subject to FICA (Social Security and Medicare tax), but not federal income tax. What classifies as a Statutory Employee? Click here to learn more. (Links to a new page about this)

Retirement Plan box is checked if you are eligible to participate in your employer’s retirement plan. This plan could be a 401(k) plan, 403(b) plan, SEP-IRA, SIMPLE IRA, or other type of pension plan.

Third-Party Sick Pay would be checked if you received sick pay under a third-party policy from an insurance company. Receiving sick pay directly from your employer in your paycheck, does not apply here.

14 – Other

This box may contain information such as: travel reimbursement, taxable relocation expenses, union dues withheld, uniform payment deductions, non-excludable moving expenses, auto allowance, educational assistance payments, and/or Social club membership.

15 – State Code & Employer’s State Id Number

This reports your employer’s state and state tax identification number where state withholding was required. Your employer may be multiple lines of information in Box 15.

16 – State Wages, Tips, Etc.

Box 16 on your W2 reports the amount of taxable wages earned in that specific state. You may have multiple lines of information in Box 16 if you worked in multiple states.

17 – State Income Tax

This is the total amount of state income taxes that were withheld from your paycheck for the wages reported in Box 16.

18 – Local Wages, Tips, Etc.

Many local regions do not require you to report wages, so this is often blank. If you are in a local region where they require to report the total wages subject to the local, city, or other state income taxes, if will be located in Box 18.

19 – Local Income Tax

This is the total local, city, or other state income taxes withheld from your paycheck.

20 – Locality

Box 20 provides a brief description of the local, city, or other state tax being paid, if there is a local tax needed to report.


Journey is here to ensure payroll taxes are paid accurately and on time. Journey does not provide tax advice for your specific W2, and does not advise on filling out your specific W4. If you have specific questions, please ask a local CPA or Accountant.