A tax return is a form (or set of forms) used to report your income from all sources and the tax due on said income; whereas, a W-2 is a form that your employer uses to report wages paid to you. You should include the information from the W-2 on your tax return, along with information related to any other income you earned during the year.
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Mr. Yoak is licensed to practice law in Florida. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. You are strongly advised to confer directly with an attorney to insure the proper advice is received and the appropriate action is timely taken.
The W-2 is a return which is filed by an employer to report amounts paid to an employee (along with amounts withheld or paid to others on the employee's behalf). Your tax return is the place where you report your income (including, but not limited to, the income shown on your W-2) to the federal or state government. For most individuals, the federal income tax return filed will generally be in the 1040 series (1040EZ, 1040A, 1040). Since you are confused, I strongly suggest that you seek the help of an experienced tax preparer, so that you can make sure any returns you are required to file can be determined, prepared, and filed properly and on time.
This answer is not intended to provide you with specific legal advice regarding your situation, or to create any attorney-client relationship. The intent is only to provide general information. You should be aware that you cannot rely on this answer to provide you with any protection against tax penalties. You should always consult your own attorney in order to obtain legal advice.
Your personal tax return is an IRS Form 1040. The W-2 is a form used by your employer to report (to you and to the IRS) your wages. So the W-2 is important to your return, but does not take the place of your return.