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Global Work Glossary

Lost in a maze of global employment jargon? Find your way out with our handy collection of work and HR terminology

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# A B C D E F G H I J L M N O P R S T U V W X Y Z

W-2 Employee

What is a W-2 Employee?

A W-2 employee is someone who is classified as an employee by their employer for tax purposes and thus receives a Form W-2 annually. This form reports the employee’s annual wages and the amount of taxes withheld from their paycheck. W-2 employees are distinct from independent contractors, who receive a Form 1099 and are responsible for their payroll tax obligations.

Key Features of W-2 Employment

W-2 employees typically work according to schedules set by their employers and use tools and equipment provided by the employer. They receive benefits such as healthcare, retirement contributions, and paid leave. Employers of W-2 employees are responsible for withholding income taxes, Social Security, and Medicare contributions from their wages.

Tax Implications and Responsibilities

The primary tax implication for W-2 employees is that their employer automatically withholds payroll taxes from their wages. This includes federal and state income taxes, as well as Social Security and Medicare contributions, which are shared between the employee and the employer. At the end of the year, W-2 employees use the information on their W-2 form to file their tax returns.

Benefits of W-2 Status

Being a W-2 employee offers stability in terms of regular wages, employment benefits, and legal protections such as unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation. This status also simplifies the tax filing process for the employee, as much of the tax documentation and withholding is handled by the employer.

W-2 employees form the backbone of the traditional workforce, offering employers a stable and manageable way to maintain a compliant and well-regulated employment structure. For employees, this classification provides the security of consistent income and the benefits of a structured tax system and employment benefits.

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