My understanding is that to be an "accredited investor" as defined by the SEC, an individual must have $200,000 of earned income two years in a row. If a person has pre-tax deductions from their paycheck (e.g. 401k contributions, health insurance premiums, etc.) which take their total wages (as defined as box 1 of the W-2) below $200k, can that year still be counted as one towards accredited investor status? Suppose in our example the "Medicare Wages" box 5 on the W-2 shows a number greater than 200,000.

1 Answer 1


It depends on who is doing the evaluation

Reminder that "accredited investor" as a definition is to limit to those investors with "resources to evaluate the merits and risks for prospective investment"1. Its also a defense for those doing the offering that they aren't selling to the unsophisticated.

Its really up to who is making the offering and how they or however the evaluators are judging any "accredited investor" documentation. Those evaluators who use IRS tax paperwork may take into account the items you specified on the W-2.

Be aware that the original $1 Million USD Net Worth / $200K USD Income levels were set in 1982 so that the bar has lowered just due to inflation, and that the SEC is changing how it defines accredited investor to include some professional financial certifications.


SEC Accredited Investor page

SEC Press Release - SEC Modernizes the Accredited Investor Definition

American Bar Association - Keeping Current: Staff Issues Guidance on Verifying Accredited Investor Status (2014)

Investopedia - How to Become an Accredited Investor

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