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How to read a W-2

Box 1: Wages, Tips, Other Compensation

This is your total taxable wages for federal income tax purposes. This figure includes your regular wages, bonuses, and any taxable fringe benefits (such as education benefits greater than $5,250), rewards and recognition, gifts, taxable moving expenses, as well as the taxable value of group-term life insurance in excess of $50,000 (see box 12, below). Box 2: Federal income tax withheld. This amount represents the total amount withheld from your paycheck for federal income taxes.

Box 3: Social Security Wages 

This represents income subject to Social Security tax. There is a Social Security wage base each year and once you earn up to that amount, you no longer will have deductions for Social Security tax. Social Security wages are reduced by pre-tax deductions such as health/dental/vision insurances, and flex spending but not reduced by your contributions to a retirement plan (403b or 457.) The only applicable exceptions are students working at UVA while enrolled at least half time and attending classes, as well as nonresident alien employees visiting the U.S. for a limited period on F-1, J-1, M-1 or Q-1 visas and performing services to carry out the purpose for which such visas have been issued.

Box 4: Social Security Tax Withheld

This amount represents the total amount withheld from your paycheck for Social Security taxes. The Social Security tax rate is 6.2%, and a matching amount of 6.2% is paid by UVA. The only applicable exceptions are students working at UVA while enrolled at least half time and attending classes, as well as nonresident alien employees visiting the U.S. for a limited period on F-1, J-1, M-1 or Q-1 visas and performing services to carry out the purpose for which such visas have been issued.

Box 5: Medicare Wages and Tips 

This represents income subject to Medicare tax. There is no maximum wage base for Medicare taxes. Medicare wages are reduced by pre-tax deductions such as health/dental/vision insurances, and flex spending but not reduced by your contributions to a retirement plan (403b or 457.) The only applicable exceptions are students working at UVA while enrolled at least half time and attending classes, as well as nonresident alien employees visiting the U.S. for a limited period on F-1, J-1, M-1 or Q-1 visas and performing services to carry out the purpose for which such visas have been issued.

Box 6: Medicare Tax Withheld 

This amount represents the total amount withheld from your paycheck for Medicare taxes. The Medicare tax rate is 1.45%, and a matching amount of 1.45% is paid by UVA. Once you earn $200,000 annually, there is an additional .9% that the employee pays which makes a total of 2.35%. The only applicable exceptions are students working at UVA while enrolled at least half time and attending classes, as well as nonresident alien employees visiting the U.S. for a limited period on F-1, J-1, M-1 or Q-1 visas and performing services to carry out the purpose for which such visas have been issued.

Boxes 7 and 8: Social Security Tips and Allocated Tips.

This is not applicable to UVA employees.

Box 9: Blank; Field not used.

Box 10: Dependent Care Benefits

This amount represents any amount reimbursed for dependent care expenses through a flexible spending account. UVA must report the pre-tax amount paid into a dependent care flexible spending account as part of the university’s Benefits Plan. Only dependent care benefits are reportable in this box.

Box 11: Nonqualified Plans

This amount reports any amounts that were distributed to you from your non-qualified deferred compensation

Box 12: See backside of Form W-2

Box 13

The “Retirement plan” block will be checked if you contributed to any of UVA’s tax-deferred options, or if you were a participant in UVA’s Optional Retirement Plan or the Commonwealth’s defined benefit plan through the Virginia Retirement System (VRS). By checking the “Retirement plan” block, an employer notifies the IRS that an employee’s eligibility for a deductible Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA) is limited.

Box 14. Other 

This box may be used by an employer to report any additional tax information (e.g. taxable auto allowance.)

Box 15: State/Employer’s State ID Number 

This box simply reports the UVA's state and state identification number for taxation purposes.

Box 16: State wages, tips, etc.

This amount represents the total of taxable wages earned in that state.

Box 17: State Income tax 

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

Box 18, 19 and 20Local Wages, Local Income Tax and Locality Name

These boxes apply to out-of-state employees only, whose tax residency states collect local income taxes.