After discussing the basics of W2 preparation and Boxes 1 through 11, now let’s look at the remaining Boxes.

The Form’s Boxes 12 through 20
Bookkeepers and tax preparers often get confused about the right codes and amounts to use in these boxes. We hope to bring clarification.

Box 12

Many times, Box 12 of the W2 will be blank.  Where there is no taxable compensation difference between Federal and Social Security or Medicare taxable compensation, and the totals of Boxes 1, 3, 5 are the same amount, Box 12 will normally be blank.

However, different situations require entries in Box 12 and the bookkeeper needs to be aware of that.  Codes to be used, and general information about each code, is supplied for your assistance:

  • “A” – Uncollected Social Security or RRTA tax on tips.
  • “B” – Uncollected Medicare tax on tips.
  • “C” – Taxable cost of group-term life insurance over $50,000 (included in Box 1, 3 and Box 5.)
  • “D” through “H” and “S” –  elective deferrals and employee contributions to the following qualified retirement plans:
  • “D” – 401K plans and SIMPLE 401K plans.
  • “E” – Section 403(B) plans.
  • “F” – Section 408(k)6 SEP plans.
  • “G” – Section 457(b) deferred compensation plans, including employee and employer contributions.
  • “H” – Section 501(c)(18)(D) tax-exempt organization plans.
  • “S” – Employee’s contributions to Section 408(p) SIMPLE plan.
  • “J” – Nontaxable sick pay. (Not included in Boxes 1, 3, or 5.)
  • “K” – 20% excise taxes on excess golden parachute payments.
  • “L” – Nontaxable substantiated employee business expense reimbursements paid.
  • “M” and “N” – Uncollected Social Security or RRTA tax, and Uncollected Medicare tax (respectively), on taxable group-term life insurance over $50,000.
  • “P” – Excludable, and nontaxable, moving expense reimbursements paid directly to the employee.
  • “Q” – Nontaxable combat pay.
  • “R” – Employer contributions to the employee’s Archer MSA, if applicable.
  • “T” – Adoption Benefits not included in Box 1 but paid.
  • “V” – Income from exercise of non-statutory stock options, also included in Boxes 1, 3, and 5 as appropriate.
  • “W” – Employer contributions, and employee’s cafeteria-plan contributions, to a HSA.
  • “Y” – Section 409A nonqualified deferred compensation plan deferrals.
  • “Z” – Income from Section 409A nonqualified deferred compensation plans.
  • “AA” – ROTH contributions under 401K plans.
  • “BB” – ROTH contributions under 403B plans.
  • “DD” – Non-taxable Employer-sponsored health coverage.
  • “EE” – ROTH contributions under governmental 457b plans, not including those under a tax-exempt organization’s 457b plan.

Box 13

If one of these apply (Retirement plan, Statutory Employee, or Third-party Sick Pay) to this employee, check the appropriate box here.

Box 14

Box 14 allows for additional information that may be helpful, but is not required.  An example would include a minister’s housing allowance, which is not reported in Box 1, but reporting it here in Box 14 with a brief description benefits the minister.
Note: Please remember that ministers are one type of employee whose Box 3 and Box 5 wages should always be left blank, due to their dual-status designation.

The remaining boxes (Box 15 through 20) are used to report applicable state and local identifying information, wages, and taxes withheld. Each bookkeeper should ensure the W2’s meet all state and local requirements, as the tax payer and the tax preparer rely on the W2s to prepare the tax returns.