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Topic 401 - Wages and Salaries

All wages, salaries and tips you received for performing services as an employee of an employer must be included in your gross income. Amounts withheld for taxes, including but not limited to income tax, social security and Medicare taxes, are considered "received" and must be included in gross income in the year they are withheld. Generally, your employer's contribution to a qualified pension plan for you is not included in gross income at the time it is contributed. Additionally, while amounts withheld under certain salary reduction agreements with your employer are generally excluded from gross income, such amounts may have to be included in wages subject to social security and Medicare taxes in the year they are withheld. See Publication 17, Chapter 5, Wages Salaries and Other Earnings, and Chapter 6, Tip Income, for specific information.

Your employer should provide you a Form W-2 (PDF) showing your total income and withholding. You must include all income and withholding from all Forms W-2 you receive on your tax return, and if filing jointly, you must also include all income and withholding from your spouse’s Forms W-2. Attach a copy of each Form W-2 to the front of your tax return as indicated in the instructions. Please note that self-employment income is generally reported on Form 1099-MISC (PDF). For more information on business income, refer to Topic 407 and Publication 334, Tax Guide for Small Business. For information on tips, refer to Publication 531, Reporting Tip Income, and Publication 1244 (PDF), Employee's Daily Record of Tips and Report to Employer. For information on excess social security or railroad tax withholding, refer to Topic 608.

If you receive a Form W-2 after you have filed your return, file an amended tax return, Form 1040X (PDF). For more information on amended returns, refer to Topic 308. Your Form W-2 should be made available to you by February 1, 2016. For information about incorrect Forms W-2 or non-receipt, refer to Topic 154.

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: October 10, 2016