Haven’t Received Your W-2? 4 Steps You Should Follow

Haven’t received your W-2? As we enter the tax season, your W-2 form hasn’t arrived yet, and you planned to file your return early. Don’t Panic. There’s still time to get it before you file! We’ve got some options in this article if you have yet to receive your W-2.

Haven’t Received Your W-2?

What is a Form W-2?

Wage and Tax Statement shows the income and taxes withheld from an employee’s pay for the year and is necessary to file your taxes. 

Don’t confuse this with a Form W-4. That’s for individuals to complete for withholding purposes; a Form W-2 is for employers to complete.

If you don’t have your W-2, reach out to your employer as soon as possible to see if they can provide you with another copy. Employers have until January 31st to send out all W-2s to their employees.

Here are the steps to follow if you haven’t received your Form W-2:

Check with Payroll

Before you start work on a replacement W-2, call your company’s payroll office. Make sure the payroll administrator has your correct address. If he or she does and the form was just dropped into the mail, you should have it soon.

If it hasn’t been sent out yet, you might be able to walk down to the office and pick up your copy in person. And these days many workers can access this form online through a payroll services firm hired by their company.

If, however, the days roll by and the form is indeed lost or your employer is inordinately slow in issuing a replacement, or you worked for a company that went out of business and there’s no one to bug about getting a W-2, what then?

Don’t panic. You can re-create your W-2 on an IRS form and file that instead with your return.

Alert the IRS

Alert the IRS

First, find your last pay stub. You’ll need the information shown there — wages, Social Security and Medicare taxes paid, federal and, if applicable, state and local taxes withheld, any pension or 401(k) contributions — to recreate your missing W-2.

The stub also should show the employer information: company name, address, and possibly the employer identification number, or EIN.

If the EIN isn’t on a pay stub and you received a W-2 from the errant employer in prior years, the tax number will be on the old statements. You don’t have to have the EIN, but it will help when the IRS processes your return.

Armed with this information, call the IRS at (800) 829-1040 for help in obtaining the missing form. The IRS will use the employment data you gathered.

Along with your personal information, such as your Social Security number and dates of employment. This is to remind your boss that you need a substitute W-2.


Form 4852

The IRS will send your boss a special form noting that you did not receive your W-2. You’ll get a copy of that notice along with Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage, and Tax Statement.

You may file using Form 4852 in place of your missing wage statement. That is if even after nudging from the IRS, your employer doesn’t send you a replacement W-2 in time for you to file your tax return,

If you get your official W-2 after filing with the substitute form and its data is different from what you reported on your return, you need to refile. Do this by completing Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Do-it-yourself W-2

If you can’t get through to the IRS, you can download Form 4852 and fill out the replacement wage statement yourself.

This one-page form, plus a page of instructions, walks you through the W-2 re-creation process. You’ll also have to explain how you got the numbers you entered.

Generally from old paychecks describe the efforts you made to obtain your missing W-2. If you’re missing multiple W-2s, you’ll need a separate Form 4852 for each.

After you complete the form, attach it to your tax return in place of your absent W-2. A copy of Form 4852 also should satisfy your state tax collector for those returns.

Be aware, though, that using Form 4852 instead of an original W-2 may delay your refund while the IRS verifies the information you provided.

In cases where an employer has filed for bankruptcy or ceased operations, the IRS suggests you send a copy of Form 4852 to your local Social Security Administration office.

The agency’s office locator can help you find the one nearest to you. This should ensure that you get proper credit for the Social Security and Medicare taxes you paid.

So that your checks will be correct when it comes time to collect these benefits.

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