What is the difference between an income tax return and a W2 (wage statement)?
The income tax return (or Form 1040) is the document that is submitted to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) every April in order to pay federal taxes. It shows how much income a person (or a married couple, if filing jointly) has made during the year and how much tax he/she owes. A blank copy of an income tax return looks like this:
W2s, or wage statements, show the income a person has made from each employer he/she has had over the past year. If a person has more than one job, he/she will receive separate W2s from each job. Each individual (even if filing taxes as a married couple) receives individual W2s. A blank copy of a W2 looks like this:
Why does the Consular Officer sometimes ask for both forms?
Sometimes the Consular Officer will ask an applicant for the petitioner’s income tax return and W2s. The reason for this is that your sponsor may have filed his/her income tax return jointly with his/her spouse. The income tax return shows only the total income that both the husband and wife have earned. If your sponsor signed an affidavit of support form (Form I-864), but his/her spouse did not sign a household member form (Form I-864A), the Consular Officer may want to see how much your sponsor made individually. In this case, the Officer would need to see your sponsor’s W2s, showing all the income he/she personally made over the last year.
See our blog post “Affidavits of Support” for more information about I-864s and tax returns.