Understanding Your Taxes
Payroll Services provides you with employer tax statements like the W-2, and can help you adjust your exemptions via the W-4 Tax Data option in Employee Self Service. Payroll Services does not provide tax advising or consultation services. It is recommended that you contact your tax advisor or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), 1-800-829-1040, for specific information and advice.
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Employee & Dependent Education Assistance Taxation
Ohio State employees who take advantage of tuition benefits provided by the university (either for themselves or dependents) should be aware of the tax consequences.
This page provides a summary of IRS regulations related to tuition benefits so that you can plan ahead.
Employee benefit- Based on IRS regulations, you should expect to be taxed on any graduate tuition benefit that exceeds $5,250 in a calendar year. (This also means that the first $5,250 in tuition assistance that the university provides to eligible faculty and staff each calendar year for graduate-level courses is not subject to taxation.)
We recommend that you prepare ahead of time for the tax consequences of your academic coursework. The university cannot provide tax advice to individual employees, so we would encourage you to discuss your particular circumstances with a tax professional.
Dependent benefit- Please note that tuition assistance for dependents, including spouse, or dependent children, who are taking graduate-level courses, is subject to taxation. Dependent undergraduate tuition assistance is taxable to the employee if the dependent is not eligible to be claimed on the employee’s federal tax return for that calendar year. (See questions on the Application for Dependent Tuition Assistance on the Office of Human Resources website).
Additional tax for the tuition assistance benefit is based on the employee's current W-4 on record at the time of taxation. The W-4 can be accessed through Employee Self Service, under Time and Pay, W-4 tax Information.
Biweekly paid employees are taxed over six pay periods for the Spring, Summer and Autumn semesters.
Monthly paid employees are taxed over three pay periods for the Spring, Summer and Autumn semesters.
The months to be taxed for Spring semester: March, April, and May; for Summer semester: July, August and September; and for Autumn semester: October, November, and December. This timeframe may vary slightly depending upon payroll processing dates. An email notice is sent to employees prior to the first pay to be taxed, stating the specific pay periods and the additional taxable income benefit on which they will be taxed.
Paycheck Modeler, located in Employee Self Service under Other Payroll Information, may be used to estimate a net check by adding the tuition assistance taxable amount per pay to the Earnings step, then continuing through the Deductions and Taxes steps to calculate a net pay check. The Taxes step will also allow hypothetical changes to the W-4 exemptions and recalculate the check using the changed information. To request W-4 exemption changes within the payroll system, please use the W-4 Tax Information page in Employee Self Service.
How much additional tax is withheld depends on:
- What your W-4 marital status and exemptions are in the payroll system, which can be updated at any time during the year;
- Your salary; and
- Your education assistance taxable income for the pay period; which may put you into a higher tax bracket for the pay periods that are taxed
Example #1: Check stub for a Monthly paid employee without current Education Assistance in the pay. There is a year-to-date amount from a previous semester where the employee has exceeded the $5,250.00 exempt limit. Gross pay is $6,353.00 and net is $3,963.79.
Example #2: Check stub for the same Monthly employee with Education Assistance taxable income of $4,783.50 added. The gross pay is still $6,353.00, and the net is $2,323.23. The difference in the two net pays is the additional taxes on the education assistance.
Example #3: Check stub for a Biweekly paid employee without current Education Assistance in the pay. There is a year-to-date amount from a previous semester where the employee has exceeded the $5,250.00 exempt limit. Gross pay is $1,920.40 and the net is $1,326.42.
Example #4: Check stub for the same Biweekly employee with Education Assistance taxable income of $2,391.75 added. The gross pay is 1,920.40, and the net is $531.97. The difference in the two net pays is the additional taxes on the educational assistance.
Form W-2 / Year End
Ohio State is required to furnish all employees with a Form W-2 showing their compensation and tax withholding amounts for the calendar year by January 31 of the following year. You will use the W-2 to complete your yearly tax return by April 15.
University employees may choose to access their W-2 statement electronically through Employee Self Service (preferred) or to receive a paper copy mailed to their home address on file.
The benefits of receiving an online W-2 form are:
- Faster access than through the mail
- Significantly less risk that your W-2 may be lost or stolen, compared with mailed delivery
- Available on demand from any location with internet availability
- Environmental impact
Employers must comply with specific Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations (26 CFR 31.6051-1) to issue electronic W-2s, and employees must provide their consent to receive an electronic W-2 instead of a paper copy.
How to access your W-2 electronically
To access your W-2 online for 2013 and onward, you must provide your consent through Employee Self Service. There is a W-2 Consent section with a Consent Now button. Alternatively you can look for the Tax Information folder under the Time and Pay section and click on the W-2/W-2c Consent link.
Once you have signed up for electronic forms, you can print copies of your W-2s for tax years 2013 and onward at any time. To access our forms, log on to Employee Self Service and under the Tax Information folder in the Time and Pay section, click on the View W-2/W-2c Forms link. The most recent tax year forms will display. To view your tax forms for a different year, click on the View a Different Tax Year link.
Note: If you are a former employee and no longer have access to Employee Self Service, please contact Payroll Services at (614) 292-2311.
- Consent Generally: If an employee does not consent to receive an electronic version of the W-2 form, he or she will continue to be furnished with a paper W-2 form. The “default” position is for employees to receive paper W-2 forms via U.S. mail.
- Scope and Duration of Consent: An employee’s consent to receive a W-2 form in electronic format is effective only for all future tax years until consent is withdrawn. Payroll Services will notify employees each year when the W-2 Forms are available for access online.
- Procedure for Obtaining Paper W-2s After Consent Given: After giving consent, an employee may still request a paper Form W-2 by contacting Payroll Services in writing (either by email to W2@osu.edu or by U.S. mail to (901 Woody Hayes Dr., Blankenship Hall, 2nd Floor, Columbus Ohio 43210). The request for a paper Form W-2 will not terminate consent to receive W-2 Forms electronically in the future.
- Withdrawal of Consent: An employee may withdraw his or her consent at any time. Consent withdrawn by employees is only effective for W-2s not yet issued, and does not apply to previously issued Forms W-2. To withdraw your consent, you may change your selection in Employee Self Service to receive a paper copy or send a request to W2@osu.edu.
- Terminated Employees: All terminated employees regardless of consent will no longer be able to access the electronic W-2. A paper W-2 will be sent to all terminated employees. Terminated employees can contact Payroll Services at (614) 292-2311 for instructions on updating personal information.
- Updating Information for Active Employees: It is the employee’s responsibility to notify Payroll Services of any changes to personal information such as social security number or name by submitting a Change of Record form. Address changes must be made via Employee Self Service. It is Payroll Services responsibility to notify employees of changes to the University’s contact information.
- Hardware and Software Requirements: The hardware and software requirements needed to access, print and retain Form W-2 electronically include an internet connection, web browser, and Adobe Acrobat Reader.
- Inaccessible W-2s or Technical Problems: If an employee consents to accessing an electronic W-2 and is unable to access their form online due to a technical problem, incorrect login or password, or incorrect e-mail address, the employee may request a paper copy.
Form W-4: Employee's Withholding Certificate
Due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released a new federal Form W-4 Employee’s Withholding Certificate for tax year 2020. The new Form W-4 is significantly different than the previous W-4 forms.
Before completing the 2020 Form W-4, please read the instructions that are included with the form. You must complete Steps 1 and 5. Steps 2, 3, and 4 are optional, but completing them will help ensure that your federal income tax withholding will more accurately match your tax liability. Step 1 is for your personal information; Step 2 is for households with multiple jobs; Step 3 is used to claim tax credits for dependents; Step 4 is for other adjustments (additional income such as interest and dividends, itemized deductions that exceed the standard deduction, and extra tax you want withheld).
The IRS has provided the following guidance:
- Employees hired before 2020 are not required to submit new forms; withholding will continue based upon your previously submitted valid W-4.
- Employees hired before 2020 who wish to adjust their withholding after January 1, 2020, must use the new form. NOTE: Once a new form W-4 is submitted, you will not be able to revert your withholding to be based on allowances.
- Employees hired on or after January 1, 2020, will be required to use the new forms.
- Employees hired on or after January 1, 2020, who do not submit a valid W-4 form will be treated as a single filer with no adjustments.
If an employee has not completed a 2020 W-4:
- Since there was such a major change on the 2020 Form W-4, the marital status is the only field that is carried forward on Employee Self Service.
If an employee has completed the 2020 W-4:
- Entries from your most recent 2020 W-4 are carried forward and display as selected (Step 3 will display a total amount only).
Even though the IRS does not require all employees to complete the revised form and even if your tax situation has not changed, we recommend you perform a “paycheck checkup” to see if you need to make adjustments to your current withholding. To conduct the checkup, you can use the IRS’s Tax Withholding Estimator.
The IRS has also published Frequently Asked Questions that you may find helpful as you complete the form.
Please note that Ohio State cannot provide guidance on completion of the new W-4 or any related tax implications. We recommend that you contact your tax consultant with any questions you may have.
Reasons to Recheck Your W-4
You should pay particular attention to your withholding if you received a big refund check the previous year or if you had to make a tax payment that was more than you could comfortably pay. Also check your withholding if you had a significant change in your life this year, like marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, or retirement. There is a good chance you're not having enough withheld if you have more than one job, if your spouse works, if you have income not subject to withholding, such as rent, dividends, interest or capital gains, or if you owe other taxes like self-employment or household employment taxes.
How to Find Out if You Are Withholding Enough
With the help of current pay stubs and a copy of last year's tax form, you can check to see if you are withholding the right amount using the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator.
How to Adjust the Amount of Withholding
You can adjust the amount being withheld from your paycheck by changing your W-4 tax information through Employee Self Service.
General Tax Information
Claiming Exempt on W-4 - Expiration of exempt
A Form W-4 claiming exemption from withholding is effective when it is submitted to the employer and only for that calendar year. To continue to be exempt from withholding, an employee must submit a new Form W-4 via Employee Self Service by February 15. If the employee fails to submit a new Form W-4 by February 15, we will begin withholding as if the employee had checked the box for Single or Married filing separately in Step 1(c) and made no entries in Step 2, Step 3, or Step 4 of the 2020 Form W-4.
NOTE: If the employee provides a new Form W-4 claiming exemption from withholding on February 16 or later, it will be applied to future wages, we will not refund any taxes withheld while the exempt status wasn’t in place.
Working Outside Ohio
Work location: State or Locality cannot be changed or removed via Employee Self Service.
State tax for the work location is required to be withheld. If you are not working in Ohio a form with information regarding your work location will be needed.
- Working in Ohio but claiming permanent residency reciprocity for Kentucky, Michigan or West Virginia. Complete the IT-4NR.
- Working in Ohio but claiming permanent residency reciprocity for Indiana or Pennsylvania. Complete the IT-4NR and the appropriate state form since your state of residency tax will be withheld.
Work localities: Employees should see a Work Locality listed for each physical location in which they work. These localities cannot be changed or removed via Employee Self Service. If you do not see the correct work localities or if any work localities are missing please contact Taxoffice@osu.edufor assistance.
Working remotely in the State of Ohio
This form must be signed by an authorized person from your Department.
Working outside the United States:
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further assistance.
Work Locality Taxation
If you are a nonresident alien, use the Glacier program to help you understand tax questions.
Glacier is a web-based computer program that provides a "beginning to end" tax compliance solution. Once the university determines that you are a nonresident alien, you will receive an email to your osu.edu email address directing you to the Glacier website with a password for entry. After asking a few simple questions, the Glacier program will guide you through the tax filing process. Glacier does the following:
- Makes tax residency, withholding and income tax treaty determinations
- Manages all paperwork
- Maintains data
- Provides you with next steps
- Files appropriate reporting statements with the IRS
If you are a nonresident alien and you have not received Glacier information, please contact the Tax Office at email@example.com.