Does Your W-2 Look Wrong? It Could Be This…

Do you have questions about your W-2? From wage variations to outdated information, W-2s are one of our most-asked-about topics this time of year.

In anticipation of your questions, our payroll department put together a short list of FAQs to answer everything you’ve been meaning to ask about your W-2.

How do I get my W-2 if my address changed?

w-2 info look wrong

Your paper W-2 may have already been mailed to your former address. Although we don’t have control of the mail system, we strongly suggest you try to track it down to protect your personal information.

The good news is you can log into the Stratus System to access your digital W-2. You can also avoid this from happening in the future by requesting only a digital W-2. To do this, log into the Stratus System, click the green $ sign, go to Taxes (W2 Info), then click the blue Edit button. From here, select “Please provide my W2 Electronically.”

While you’re in there, remember to update your address!

Why do my year-to-date (YTD) earnings on my last paycheck of last year not match the wages in Box 1?

If you made any pre-tax contributions last year, your YTD earnings will not match Box 1 of your W-2. That’s because your YTD earnings include all gross wages paid during the year: hourly wages, bonuses, commissions, stipends, tips, reimbursements, severance, vacation pay, and any other form of compensation.

However, the wages shown in Box 1 of your W-2 is only the amount of earnings subject to federal taxes. This number is derived by subtracting all your pre-tax deductions from your YTD earnings.

For example, if you contributed to a health plan, retirement plan, or had a Health Savings Account (HSA), Health Reimbursement Account (HRA), or a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), those dollars are pre-tax. While it may appear you made less money than you thought, remember this is just the amount of income that will be taxed. And it’s good to have fewer wages be taxable! (Unless you like paying taxes.)

Why are the amounts in Box 1 wages and Box 3 Social Security wages different?

If wages listed in Box 3 of your W-2 are more than the amount listed in Box 1, you may have contributed to a retirement account and/or some other benefit offering that was exempt from federal income tax but not exempt from payroll (FICA) taxes. In this case, wages listed in Box 3 (Social Security) and Box 5 (Medicare) will be higher than Box 1.

The state I had taxes withheld in is not the state where I live or worked. What should I do?

Although remote work has skyrocketed recently, this question is nearly impossible to answer on a general basis because state and local tax laws vary from place to place. If you live in one state and work in another, you may have to pay income taxes to both states. However, some states offer a credit on resident returns to offset a nonresident state tax liability.

If you recently moved, please log into the Stratus System to ensure your address is current. If your taxing state needs to be adjusted, please contact our payroll department (talk or text 801-984-1328 or email payroll@stratus.hr).

Why did I not have any Federal Tax withheld?

If no federal taxes were withheld from your paycheck, you may have claimed “exempt” on your W-4 tax withholding form. Log into the Stratus System to verify your filing status by clicking the green $ sign and then Taxes (W2 Info). Under your personal information listed here, scroll down to a section called “W-4 Info.” Click to review your W-4 information. (You can also view your withholding status via Stratus.hr Mobile.)

Because taxes are based on withholdings and pre-tax deductions, it’s also possible your earnings weren’t high enough for federal taxes to be withheld. You can adjust your W-4 withholdings anytime via the Stratus System or Stratus.hr Mobile.

If neither of these scenarios apply to you, please contact our payroll department (talk or text 801-984-1328 or email payroll@stratus.hr).

My name is spelled wrong on my W-2. What should I do?

If your name is misspelled on your W-2, please contact our payroll department (talk or text 801-984-1328 or email payroll@stratus.hr). You will need to have the correct spelling on your W-2 when you file your taxes.

My name on my W-2 doesn’t reflect my legal name. What should I do?

If you had a life changing event that required a legal name change, please contact our payroll department (talk or text 801-984-1328 or email payroll@stratus.hr). Be prepared to provide a copy of your Social Security card to Stratus.hr for verification. You will need to have the correct name on your W-2 when you file your taxes.

My Social Security number is not correct on my W-2. What should I do?

If your Social Security number is wrong on your W-2, please contact our payroll department (talk or text 801-984-1328 or email payroll@stratus.hr). Be prepared to provide a copy of your Social Security card to Stratus.hr for verification. You will need to have the correct number on your W-2 when you file your taxes.

How do I get my W-2 if I do not work for my company anymore?

You can still log into the Stratus System to access your pay and W-2 information, even if you no longer work for a company partnered with Stratus.hr. If you encounter any issues when logging in, please contact Support (talk or text 801-984-1045 or email support@stratus.hr).

Where can I learn more about each box on my W-2?

For more detailed information about your W-2, please log into the Stratus System, click the green $ sign, go to Taxes (W2 Info), and click the blue “Explain My W2” button. If you have any other questions or need more clarification about your W-2, please contact our payroll department (talk or text 801-984-1328 or email payroll@stratus.hr).

How can I avoid having to process W-2s for my employees next year?

We’re glad you asked! If you’re tired of handling mundane administrative tasks (like issuing W-2s) and considering a more efficient option like HR Outsourcing, we’d love to help. Simply complete the form below and one of our Stratus.hr Business Development Reps will be in touch with you shortly.







    Celeste Houston, Vice President - Payroll

    Author Celeste Houston, Vice President - Payroll

    Celeste is a Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) and has worked in the PEO industry since 1998. She has created remarkable relationships with her clients and colleagues and will forever hold the title of our company's first ever Employee of the Year.

    More posts by Celeste Houston, Vice President - Payroll