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How to Find Your Gross Pay on Your W-2 Form

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Gross wages are the amount a company pays an employee before any deductions are withheld. On a W-2 tax statement, an employee's federal taxable gross wages appear in Box 1, which is located near the top-center of the form.

Gross Pay Meaning

Gross pay is the starting point for determining a person's tax obligation. It is the amount of all gross installments of payroll distributed to the worker throughout the year. In a traditional employment setting, employers withhold amounts for federal and state taxes, Social Security, Medicare, and pretaxed insurance and retirement contributions. Net income is the actual take-home pay a person receives after deductions are withheld.

Identifying and Using Gross Pay

When a worker files a tax return, information from all W-2s is reported on the standard form. When a professional tax preparer is used, that person pulls the information. Someone who uses an online tax program simply inputs the amount from Box 1 in the corresponding Box 1 in the software. Software programs ask the preparer to input the amount that matches each box on the W-2.


Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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