Month: October 2019

How to Decode Box 1 of Form W-2

Here’s help for understanding how your compensation is handled on Form W-2

Box 1 of Form W-2 shows the employee’s total compensation that is subject to taxation for the year. Per an article published by Forbes, “This tends to be the number most taxpayers care about the most.” Consequently, there’s no room for error.How to Decode Box 1 of Form W-2

Below are inclusions and exclusions for Box 1 plus a brief explanation of the differences among Box 1, Box 3 and Box 5.

Learning these differences can help you decode your W-2 more easily.

What goes in Box 1?

All taxable wages, tips and other compensation should go in Box 1. This includes:

  • Hourly earnings, including overtime and premium pay, and salaries.
  • Vacation, sick, PTO and holiday pay.
  • Bonuses, commissions, prizes and awards.
  • Noncash payments, such as taxable fringe benefits.
  • Tips the employee reported to the employer.
  • Business expense reimbursements made under a non-accountable plan.
  • Accident and health insurance premiums for 2%-or-more shareholder employees if the company is an S corporation.
  • Taxable cash benefits under a Section 125, or cafeteria, plan.
  • Employer and employee contributions to an Archer Medical Savings Account.
  • Employer contributions for qualified long-term care if coverage is provided through a flexible spending arrangement.
  • Group-term life insurance that exceeds $50,000.
  • Taxable education assistance payments.
  • Any amounts you paid toward the employee’s portion of Social Security and Medicare taxes.
  • Designated Roth 401(k), 403(b) and 457(b) contributions.
  • Payments to statutory employees who are excluded from federal income tax withholding but not from Social Security and Medicare taxes.
  • Insurance protection cost under a compensatory split-dollar life insurance arrangement.
  • Taxable employer and employee health savings account contributions.
  • Taxable amounts paid to a nonqualified deferred compensation plan.
  • Taxable moving expenses and expense reimbursements.
  • Compensation made to former employees who are on active military duty.
  • All other forms of taxable compensation, such as fellowship grants and scholarships.

What’s not in Box 1?

Box 1 should not contain:

  • Expense reimbursements — such as for transportation, lodging and meals — made under an accountable plan.
  • De minimis fringe benefits. These are occasional benefits with a value no more than $100.
  • Pretax contributions made to a retirement plan.
  • Pretax benefits, such as health insurance, flexible spending account and HSA offered under a Section 125 plan.
  • Other nontaxable wages and pretax benefits.

What are the differences among Box 1, Box 3 and Box 5?

  • Box 1 = Total taxable wages for the year.
  • Box 2 = Total federal income tax withheld from Box 1.
  • Box 3 = Total wages subject to Social Security tax.
  • Box 4 = Total Social Security tax withheld from Box 3.
  • Box 5 = Total wages subject to Medicare tax.
  • Box 6 = Total Medicare tax withheld from Box 5.

The total wages for Box 3 and Box 5 may differ from the amount in Box 1 because not all taxable wages are subject to the same taxes. For example, some wages are subject to federal income tax but not to Social Security and Medicare taxes, and vice versa. To accurately compute Box 1, Box 3 and Box 5, you must know which federal taxes should be withheld from the taxable wage in question.

We’ve got your back on taxes and compensation

If you’re interested in learning more about what you can and cannot deduct, or other ways to manage your taxescontact KRS today for a complimentary initial consultation.

 

Estate Planning for Those Under 40

The earlier you start planning, the more choices you’ll have

Get started on estate planning while you're young saves hassles laterWe all live as if we have decades ahead of us, dealing with the present — we can’t know the future. And that’s why now is a great time to get a jump on estate planning.

Do your family and loved ones know what accounts you have, where your financial information is and what your wishes are? Now is the time to tell them. If you start now, your plan will help keep your loved ones from becoming stressed if you suddenly become disabled or pass away.

Learning about estate planning

You can begin to educate yourself about estate planning. For instance, what should you be looking for in an estate planning attorney? You can interview several to see whom you feel most comfortable with. You can also explore estate planning strategies: Some organizations have free small-group events to share an understanding of the basics of estate planning.

You can start formulating how you’d want to be memorialized — how about creating a recording to share with your loved ones to help them by making the tough decisions in advance?

Getting started on your plan

Estate planning isn’t just for wealthy people — you don’t have to wait until you build up more savings. You may have a child or spouse who is financially dependent on you, so you don’t want to ignore your estate plan. Take these steps to be proactive:

  • Designate beneficiaries.
  • Designate a health care proxy to make medical decisions for you if you can’t.
  • Review asset titling — titling assets jointly with rights of survivorship is an easy way to ensure that your property passes to your heirs without delay.
  • Consider establishing a trust — in many ways these can be even more effective tools than wills.
  • Do some tax planning — although the federal estate tax affects only the wealthiest people, there are other tax issues, including state estate taxes.
  • Select guardians to care for minor children.
  • Plan ahead — an accident can result in an inability to make legal decisions; a durable power of attorney will name someone to act in your place if you are incapacitated.

Documents for your plan

Among the documents that are part of an estate plan, consider a will, life insurance, and a power of attorney. You can think of a will as a road map outlining how your property will be distributed if you’re disabled or die. Meet with an attorney and tell her or him what your assets are, who you want to leave them to, and that you want it all to be simple.

In crafting a will, name a trusted friend or family member as the executor to help shepherd your estate through any court-supervised process, such as probate. You may want to consider life insurance, particularly because you haven’t accumulated lots of money yet. You’d want your family to have assets to live on. You can choose a less expensive option such as a term policy for a set number of years.

We’ve got your back on estate planning

It’s never too early to start thinking about estate planning. KRS CPAs offers unbiased financial and tax guidance to help you realize your specific goals and vision. Contact KRS managing partner Maria Rollins at [email protected] or 201.655.7411 to discuss your situation.