Guidance provided on calculating W-2 wages for Sec. 199A purposes

By Alistair Nevius, J.D.

Editor: Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.

In conjunction with the issuance of the Sec. 199A regulations in T.D. 9847 (discussed above), the IRS issued Rev. Proc. 2019-11, which provides guidance on how to calculate W-2 wages for purposes of Sec. 199A. Sec. 199A(b)(2) uses W-2 wages to limit the amount of a taxpayer's Sec. 199A deduction in certain situations. Sec. 199A(b)(4) defines W-2 wages to mean amounts described in Secs. 6051(a)(3) (generally remuneration paid for services paid to an employee by an employer) and 6051(a)(8) (elective deferrals and deferred compensation) paid by a person claiming the deduction with respect to employment of employees by that person during the year. W-2 wages do not include any amount that is not properly allocable to QBI under Sec. 199A(c)(1) or any amount not properly included in a return filed with the Social Security Administration (SSA) on or before the 60th day after the due date for the return.

The revenue procedure provides three methods for calculating W-2 wages: the unmodified box method, the modified box 1 method, and the tracking changes method. The IRS cautions that using one of these methods does not necessarily calculate the W-2 wages that are properly allocable to QBI and eligible for use in computing the Sec. 199A limitations. After using the revenue procedure to calculate W-2 wages, the taxpayer must then determine the extent to which they are properly allocable to QBI. The IRS also cautions that the revenue procedure cannot be used for determining if amounts are wages for employment tax purposes.

The unmodified box method described in the revenue procedure involves taking, without modification, the lesser of (1) the total entries in box 1 (wages, tips, and other compensation) of all Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, filed by the taxpayer with the SSA or (2) the total entries in box 5 (Medicare wages and tips) of all Forms W-2 filed by the taxpayer with the SSA.

The modified box 1 method involves making modifications to the total entries in box 1 of all Forms W-2 filed by the taxpayer with the SSA by subtracting amounts that are not wages for federal income tax withholding purposes (such as supplemental unemployment compensation benefits) and adding the total amounts of various elective deferrals that are reported in box 12.

Under the tracking wages method, the taxpayer tracks total wages subject to federal income tax withholding and elective deferrals reported in box 12.

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