Depending on where you live or work in the US, you may have to file both federal and state tax returns. An easy way to tell if you’re on the hook for a state tax return is to see if you have income in boxes 15-20 on your W-2 form.
Boxes 15-20 on the W-2 contain state and local level data. Here’s what each box contains:
- Box 15 - This has your employer’s state and state tax ID number. If you work in a state without income tax, this may be blank. If you worked for the employer in more than one state, you may see one than one box filled out.
- Box 16 - This shows the total number of taxable wages you made.
- Box 17 - This will show how much was withheld in state taxes throughout the year.
- Box 18 - This shows your taxable wages eligible for any other state, local, or county taxes.
- Box 19 - If box 18 is filled out, then this box will show the amount withheld for these other state, local, or county wages.
- Box 20 - This shows the name of the other state or county where taxes were withheld.
In general, if these boxes are all blank, you don’t have to worry about a state tax return. There are some exceptions though — some states without income tax may require you to file tax returns depending on your investment earnings and other specific tax situations. Likewise, if information is entered in these boxes, you’ll likely need to file a state tax return.
If the information on your W-2 looks incorrect, reach out to your employer and ask for a corrected W-2.