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What to Do If You Didn’t Receive Form W-2

Tax Forms Tax Information
A man realizes he is missing Form W-2 as he sorts through his tax documents

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Gathering all your tax forms is crucial to filing an accurate income tax return. But what happens when the tax deadline is approaching, and some tax documents, such as your Form W-2, are missing? Here’s what you need to know and the steps you should take to ensure you file on time.

When should I receive my Form W-2?

During tax season, you should receive IRS Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, by Jan. 31. You’ll receive separate W-2 forms from each employer you worked for during the year.

Form W-2 requires employers to show the total income they paid you and the total taxes they withheld. This information is key to preparing your federal tax return, and your employer should also provide the same information to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Note: This does not apply to self-employed freelance workers or independent contractors. Instead, you should receive Form 1099-NEC from any clients that paid you more than $600 during the tax year.

What if I didn’t receive Form W-2 from my employer?

It’s usually best to wait until mid-February before taking any action to track down your W-2, just to make sure it hasn’t simply been delayed in the mail. However, if the end of February rolls around and you’re still waiting for a missing form, it’s time to reach out to your employer.

Step 1: Contact your employer.

The first step in tracking down your missing form is to contact your employer’s human resources department and request a copy of your W-2 form. Make sure to confirm that they have your current mailing address, especially if you have recently moved.

Step 2: Contact the IRS.

If you still haven’t received a copy of Form W-2 by the end of February, you can call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1040 for help or visit an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC). All TACs operate by appointment only.

Be prepared to give the IRS the following information:

  • Your name, address with zip code, Social Security number, and phone number
  • Your employer’s name, address, and phone number
  • Your dates of employment for this employer

The IRS will then contact your employer and tell them to send you a Form W-2, reminding them of their responsibilities and the penalties if they don’t comply.

Step 3: File your tax return.

Whether you owe additional taxes or are due a tax refund, you should always file your tax return on time even if you have incomplete information due to missing tax forms.

If, despite all efforts, your Form W-2 is still missing in April, file Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, with your tax return. Use the information from your final pay stub to fill out this form. If you don’t have your last pay stub, just try to estimate the information as best as you can.

You can also request more time to file your federal income tax return by filing Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File. Keep in mind that even if the IRS grants you a tax extension, you still have to pay any taxes you owe by the tax filing deadline (typically April 15).

What if I received my missing W-2 after filing my return?

Sometimes, your long-lost Form W-2 shows up in your mailbox or inbox after you’ve already filed. If this happens and the information on the form differs from the information you reported when you filed, you may need to file an amended tax return. Keep in mind that you might owe more or less tax depending on what your initial estimation was. To amend your return, you’ll need to use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

 This article is for informational purposes only and not legal or financial advice.

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Your max tax refund is guaranteed.

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