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I'm not familiar with US or how its tax system works

Some countries provide forms similar to US' W-2. Here's how it works in one country I'm familiar with.

On the form there's a government website written and a code is written. There's a note saying "enter that code into that site to verify this form is accurate". This way information provided can be verified easily and there's no need for apostille etc.

W-2 has something similar on it? A verification code/QR etc

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  • For what purpose?
    – littleadv
    Sep 10 at 20:29
  • If you are worried that your form is fake, why can't you go to the IRS website to download the real Form W-2?
    – Flux
    Sep 10 at 20:40
  • I don't have a W-2 form dude. I don't know how US works. The question I wrote above is not clear enough for you?
    – user119056
    Sep 10 at 20:40
  • "Here's how it works in one country I'm familiar with ..." — Which country is that? Could you give a concrete example of such a form? I would like to read it.
    – Flux
    Sep 10 at 20:47
  • You don't need to verify a W2 to pass the butter in the US. You can pass the butter regardless of your employment status, it's a free country.
    – littleadv
    Sep 10 at 23:47

3 Answers 3

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Some countries provide forms similar to US' W-2.

The W-2 form is issued by your employer. The government only knows the numbers are real because the employer provided a copy to the IRS and to the employee. Then the employee used the numbers on their tax form. (The employee used to send a copy of the W-2 to the IRS but most tax returns are filed online). The employee knows the numbers are correct because they should match the items on their paychecks.

There's a note saying "enter that code into that site to verify this form is accurate".

Some tax software allows the tax payer to download the w-2 and 1099 numbers from web service. I know that when I do this for my W-2 a key piece of information is the unique control number on the W-2. This number is assigned by the payroll processor. It isn't my name, my employee number, or my social security number. I only know this number because I have a hard copy or soft copy of the W-2 for that year.

This way information provided can be verified easily and there's no need for apostille etc.

Very few people need to see a W-2. The tax payer does, the IRS/state tax authority needs to see the numbers. The employer does see it because they produced it. I assume that a landlord might want to see proof of income, or a bank might want it to approve a loan. But there are other ways to prove income. Showing current bank statements or paycheck stubs is more timely.

If you wanted to prove your income from previous years, you could get a tax transcript from the IRS. I have no idea what information on it would be used to confirm its authenticity.

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  • Did I understand you correctly? A 3rd country (e.g consulate who's reviewing your visa application) can't verify if the information on your W-2 is correct. This is how US tax/documentation system works, unlike the country I mentioned in my post.
    – user119056
    Sep 10 at 21:29
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There is an online tool for viewing your own prior transcripts. Note it is only for personal use:

Caution: This service is for individual taxpayers to retrieve their own transcripts for their own purposes. Use by any other entities is prohibited.

The closest thing the IRS currently offers for third party verification is a 4506-T form, which allows a third party (or you) to, with your permission, request to see parts of your tax returns, including your W2.

A W-2 form is given to you by your employer. Only you and your employer know if the information is correct. Once you receive it you should look it over, and perhaps match it up with the last paystub of the year to make sure the numbers make sense.

Your employer also submits the W2 information to the IRS, and so do you when you file your taxes. Any difference between what the IRS receives and subsequently records, and what you report will eventually be caught after you file if the numbers don't match up. As far as I know there isn't a way to see what the IRS recorded based on what your employer sent them, but it would be extremely rare for the numbers to be different than what you received on your W2.

To your point though, it's possible that what the IRS receives from the employer, and what they record could be different if they type (or scan) it in wrong. I've never actually experienced this with a W2 employee, but it did just happen to me last year with a contractor that I submitted a 1099 for, where the IRS errantly added an extra "0" and thought the contractor should have declared 10X more than they did. Surely this is rare, but it could happen, and unfortunately I don't think there's anything you can do about this before you file.

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  • Did I understand you correctly? A 3rd country (e.g consulate who's reviewing your visa application) can't verify if the information on your W-2 is correct. This is how US tax/documentation system works, unlike the country I mentioned in my post.
    – user119056
    Sep 10 at 21:28
  • @user119056 Ah- I see what you're getting at. Not online but there is a form that you can request to have copies be mailed. I updated the answer.
    – TTT
    Sep 10 at 21:46
  • @user119056 side note, I'm guessing that a Visa application might want to know whether you are employed right now, and a W2 doesn't actually prove that. Perhaps it would be faster and easier for a 3rd party to contact your employer's HR department to confirm, though that may not be "official" enough. Oftentimes mortgage lenders in the US do both- they have you fill out a 4506-T and they also call your current employer to verify you still work there. At least my mortgage lender did this.
    – TTT
    Sep 10 at 21:53
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    "As far as I know there isn't a way to see what the IRS recorded based on what your employer sent them" I believe you can check it from the Wage and Income Transcript from the IRS, but the information might only be complete after the tax filing season is over.
    – user102008
    Sep 11 at 15:57
  • @user102008 great find! I didn't know about that. (Perhaps it's relatively new.) Unfortunately that cannot be used by third parties. I updated the answer to reflect this.
    – TTT
    Sep 11 at 16:25
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Looking at your comments, you're interested in the concept of employment verification in the US.

In the US W2s are not issued by the government, but rather by your employer (through their payroll provider), and are not public but are only known to the employer, you, and the IRS.

For a third party to verify the correctness of the W2 you provide to them, they'd need a confirmation from either of the other two parties. The IRS can provide such a confirmation if you agree to provide a signed form 4506 (or 4506-T) to the third party. Sometimes the third party may just ask you to just provide them a copy of your tax return or the IRS transcript directly (forging either is a felony).

Alternatively the third party can contact your employer. For that they can either call the HR department directly or use another intermediary to which employers report information, if your employer participates. For example, Equifax has such a service. Your permission would be required, and is usually granted via a code for such an intermediary, or an HR letter that you yourself request from your HR to provide to the third party, on which the information is provided. The third party then calls the HR to verify the letter. The HR in the US will not confirm your salary without your prior permission, but they will be able to confirm the fact of your being employed without your permission or even knowledge.

Another way to confirm your information is through credit reports, however these don't usually include your salary and may not always include your correct or up to date employer.

If you're in the US and you're applying for a visa or a mortgage, you'll usually be required to provide an employment verification letter (that HR letter I mentioned earlier) and the consulate or lender will call the HR department to verify it's authenticity. And yes, they do call.

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