What To Do If You Didn’t Get a W-2

Didn’t receive your W-2? Here’s what to do.

Missing W-2

Still waiting on the W-2? You’re ready to prepare and file your taxes ahead of time. Yet each day goes by with no W-2 in the mailbox. It’s actually a problem I encountered this year for the first time.

So for those that didn’t get a W-2, we’ve put together this simple guide. Part I of this guide is this–don’t panic. As I tell my Aunt Cookie (yes, that’s her name) when life gets stressful, “it’s going to be ok.”

Now to Part II of our guide. In order to file your taxes, you or course need Form W-2. This form shows the wages you earned as an employee, as well as the taxes and other withholdings from your paycheck. Every employer is required to provide you with this form no later than January 31st of the following year. Before yelling at the human resource director, give it a few days. If you still haven’t received your W-2, follow these steps:

1. Contact your employer. Ask when – and where – the form was mailed. If the address is incorrect, ask them to resend it. Many employers use a third party payroll service such as Paychex. This is the company that will issue the form, and sometimes mistakes are made.

2. Contact the IRS if you don’t receive your W-2 by February 14th (800-829-1040). Be ready to provide the following information:

  • Your name
  • Address
  • Social Security number
  • Phone number
  • Employer’s name and address
  • Dates of employment
  • An estimate of the wages you earned, payroll taxes withheld, federal and state taxes withheld, 401(k) contributions.

You can find this information in the year-to-date section of your final pay stub or leave-and-earnings statement. Note: this is why it’s important to keep these documents and not just throw them away or shred them. If you are missing this document, talk to your human resources department or payroll processor.

3. File your return as you normally would before the deadline (April 15th, 2013) or request an extension without your W-2. However, you will need to attach Form 4852 (Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement) to the return and estimate income and withholding taxes as accurately as possible.

If your employer is no longer in business or filed for bankruptcy, send this form to your local Social Security Administration office. The agency’s office locator can help you find the one nearest 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. This may, however, delay your refund because the IRS must verify the information you provided.

4. If you receive your W-2 after you file your return, you may need to file Form 1040X (Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return) if the information is different from what you reported on your return.

Finally, the IRS has additional information on what to do if you didn’t receive your W-2, which you can find here.

Published or Updated: February 12, 2013
About Rob Berger

Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

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