How to Figure Out W-2 Numbers From a Last Paycheck

by Selena Robinson ; Updated September 11, 2015
Use your last paycheck figures to begin tax planning.

W-2 forms are annual wage and tax statements that employers issue to their workers. Most taxpayers wait to receive these forms before filing their tax information. However, several tax preparation services now allow customers to file their tax returns using the numbers from their last paycheck stub. Learning how to find your W-2 figures on your last paycheck can help you to estimate your expected tax refund or balance due.

Federal Tax Information

Find the section on your paycheck stub that reads "Year to Date Totals" or "YTD Totals". This section contains the total amount of your wages and taxes for the year. Make sure not to use the numbers for the most recent pay period amount only.

Look at the line for year-to-date "Federal Taxable Wages." This number represents the total amount of income you received that is subject to federal income taxes. The amount listed here corresponds to the total that appears in Box 1 of the W-2 form. If you contribute to a pre-tax retirement plan, this amount may vary from your "Gross Taxable Wages."

Locate the line for year-to-date "Federal Taxes Withheld". This is one of the most important tax figures on your paycheck stub, since it reports the amount of federal income tax withheld from your pay for the year. This figure appears in Box 2 of your W-2 form.

Find your annual totals for "Social Security Taxable Wages" and "Medicare Taxable Wages". These numbers report the amount of your pay that was subject to Social Security and Medicare withholding. The figures on these lines appear in Boxes 3 and 5 of the W-2. Next to the taxable wages on the paycheck stub are the amounts of Social Security and Medicare tax withheld from your pay. The withholding corresponds to the numbers in Boxes 4 and 6 on the W-2.

Read any other federal lines on your paycheck stub carefully. If you have deductions taken out of your check for medical insurance, dental insurance or Flexible Spending Accounts, these should not be included in your "Federal Taxable Wages." However, if your employer has reimbursed you for any health benefits, you should add those payments to your total federal wages for the year.

State and Local Tax Information

Locate the number for year-to-date "State Taxable Wages." This information is generally near the bottom of the pay stub. The figure on that line appears in Box 16 of Form W-2 and reports the amount of your wages that are subject to state income taxes.

Look at the line "State Taxes Withheld" to find the amount of state income tax withheld from your pay for the year. This amount corresponds to Box 17 of the W-2 form and shows the total state income tax withheld during the year.

Read any additional year-to-date figures to find out if you are subject to city or local income taxes. If you are, you will see two more lines for "Local Taxable Wages" and "Local Taxes Withheld." These figures appear in Boxes 18 and 19 of Form W-2 and only apply to localities that enforce these taxes.

About the Author

Selena Robinson has been writing professionally since 2009, specializing in areas such as music, business and education. Robinson received an accounting diploma from Ogeechee Technical College in 2001 and worked as a tax accountant for several years before becoming a writer. Her areas of expertise include payroll taxes, small-business taxes, general accounting, personal finance and individual income tax returns.

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