W Is for Wages – W4 and W2 Forms

Students compute the gross pay for fictional John Dough given his hourly wage and the number of hours worked. They compare gross pay with net pay. They learn what FICA and federal income taxes are. They learn how to complete Form W-4 and also about Form W-2. In the assessment, students re-read the information provided on a W-4 and provide a more easily understood explanation to a friend in an e-mail.


Students will

  • define income, taxes, and wages,
  • explain what the FICA tax is,
  • explain the difference between gross pay and net pay,
  • explain what Form W-4 is used for,
  • explain what Form W-2 is, and
  • rewrite the technical language found on a W-4 form

Grade Level

Middle School – High School


  • Visual 2.1
  • Handouts 2.1 and 2.2, one copy of each for each student and one copy of each for the teacher to use as visuals
  • Handout 2.3, one copy for each student
  • Handout 2.3—Answer Key for the teacher to use as a visual


Whiteboard (SMART/notebook)
Whiteboard (ActivInspire/flipchart)
PowerPoint (pptx)

Get Lesson


For additional related lessons, explore our main category pages:

Categories Earning Money, Tags , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *