W-2 Information: Understanding Your W-2

The Form W-2 reflects wages paid by warrants/direct deposit payments that were issued to you during the tax year (January 1 through December 31), regardless of the pay period in which you earned the wages.

Form W-2 contains all wages and tax information for you regardless of the number of State of California agencies/CSU campuses for which you worked during the tax year.

The year-to-date gross on your final paycheck stub (earnings statement/direct deposit advice) may not agree with Box 1 (Wages, Tips, Other Compensation) of your W-2, due to the following items:

  • Retirement
  • Employee paid health
  • Tax Shelter Annuity (TSA) Contributions
  • Deferred Compensation/Savings Plus Program Contributions
  • Dependent Care Account (DCA)
  • Health Care Reimbursement Account (HCRA)
  • Pre-tax Parking Deduction
  • Accounts Receivable Deductions
  • Non-Uniformed State Payroll System (USPS) Adjustments (Including taxable fringe benefits)

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The W-2 form is issued once a year and is mailed by the State Controller's Office directly to the mailing address you have on file with Payroll Services. W-2's are mailed to your mailing address normally by January 20th of each year. Undeliverable W-2 forms are returned to Payroll Services.

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Box 1*
Wages, tips, and other compensation

Normally, this box contains your total year-to-date federal taxable gross pay. For some employees, this box contains the total of the following:

  • Year-to-date federal taxable gross pay
  • Non-Industrial Disability (NDI) Leave, Temporary Disability (TD) and Industrial Disability Leave Supplementation payments are considered wages and are included in Box 1.
  • Year-to-date fringe benefits will be reported in Boxes 1 and 14 (Other). This amount will also be included in Boxes 3, and 5, if applicable.
  • Year-to-date executive life insurance
  • Imputed income

Note: Industrial Disability Leave (IDL) payments are considered employee benefits rather than wages and are not included in Box 1. Additionally, IDL payments are not subject to Social Security or Medicare wages and will not be reflected in Box 3 (Social Security Wages) or Box 5 (Medicare Wages and Tips).

Box 2
Federal income tax withheld

Year-to-date federal income tax withheld.

Box 3*
Social Security (OASDI) wages

Year-to-date wages subject to OASDI, including imputed income.

Box 4
Social Security tax withheld

Year-to-date employee Social Security (OASDI) deduction computed based upon the 2019 rate of 6.2% of wages subject to Social Security. The 2019 maximum wages subject to Social Security is $132,900.

Box 5*
Medicare wages and tips

Year-to-date wages subject to Medicare, including imputed income.

Box 6
Medicare tax withheld

Year-to-date employee Medicare deduction. This amount is based upon the 2019 rate of 1.45% of wages subject to medicare. There is no maximum amount of wages subject to Medicare.

Box C

Employer's name, address and ZIP code

The address of the State Controller's Office for the State of California.

Box 10
Dependent Care benefits

Year-to-date DCA (Dependent Care Account) deductions.

Box 12
Tax Sheltered & Tax Deferred Deductions
  • Employees who had Deferred Compensation (Savings Plus Program) or Tax Sheltered Annuity (TSA) deductions withheld will have their deduction amounts indicated in Box 12 with codes "D" for 401(k), "G" for 457 and "E" for 403(b).
  • Employees who are Part-Time, Seasonal and Temporary (PST) and have contributed to the PST Retirement Plan will have the deduction amount indicated in Box 12 with code "G".
  • The non-taxable Standard Mileage Reimbursement amounts up to the State's allowances will be indicated in Box 12 with Code "L".
  • The non-taxable portion of the Moxing Expense Mileage Reimbursements will be indicated in Box 12 with code "P".
  • The qualified (non-taxable) reimbursement amount of Moving Relocation Expenses will be indicated in Box 12 with code "P".
  • The imputed value of Group Term Life Insurance coverage in excess of $50,000 will be indicated in Box 12 with code "C".
Box 13
Not titled, but used to identify if employee is in a pension plan.

An "X" is indicated in this box for all employees who are members of the California Public Employees' Retirement Plan (CalPERS). Employees in the Alternate Retirement Plan or Part-time, Seasonal and Temporary retirement plan will not have an "X" indicated.

*Box 1 and Box 3 or 5 may not agree due to the following items:

  • Accounts Receivable Deductions
  • Reaching Social Security Maximum Wages
  • Deferred Compensation Deductions
  • CalPERS or PST Contributions
  • Flex Benefit Deductions
  • Tax Sheltered Annuity (TSA) Deductions
  • Pre-Tax Benefit Deductions
  • Pre-Tax Parking Deductions
  • Consolidated Benefits

Any questions concerning Federal or State tax returns must be directed to the local Internal Revenue Service or Franchise Tax Board Office.

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