Are You Missing a W-2?

Article Highlights:

  • Missing W-2 
  • Contact the Office 
  • Contact the Employer 
  • Contact the IRS 
  • Prepare a Substitute W-2
  • File on Time or Get an Extension 
  • W-2 Withholding 
Have you received all of your W-2s? These documents are essential for completing individual income tax returns, as they include the taxable amount of your wages and the amount withheld for federal and (if applicable) state income tax, along with pension plan and other information that is needed to prepare your return. Employers have until January 31st to provide or send you your W-2 earnings statement covering what you earned in the prior year, either electronically or in paper form. If you have not received your W-2 in a reasonable time frame (allowing for time for mail delivery) after the January 31 due date, follow these steps:

1. Contact This Office - Let this office know that you are missing a W-2. If your appointment is in the near future, we will advise you whether to keep the appointment or change it to another time. Generally, when a W-2 or 1099 is missing, it is best to keep the appointment so that everything else for the return can be completed. You can then mail the missing document to the office or drop it off at a later date. That way, your return can be finished as soon as the missing form becomes available, which will speed up your refund, if you are receiving one.

2. Contact Your Employer - Contact your employer to inquire about if and when the W-2 was mailed. It could be that the employer, especially a former employer, may not have your current address. After contacting the employer, allow a reasonable amount of time for the employer to resend or reissue the W-2. However, if the employer does not respond to your request or has gone out of business, you have two options:

A. Contact the IRS - If you still have not received your W-2 by the end of February, you can call the IRS for assistance at 800-829-1040. However, we recommend that you hold off contacting the IRS until you are certain that you will not be receiving a W-2 from the employer. If and when you do call the IRS, have the following information at hand:
  • Your name, address (including ZIP code), phone number, taxpayer identification number (a Social Security number for most people), and dates of employment

  • Your employer/payer's name, address (including ZIP code), and phone number 

  • If known, your employer/payer's identification number (EIN). If you worked for the same employer in a prior year, the EIN will be on your copy of the W-2 for that year. The IRS will contact the employer/payer for you and request the missing or corrected form. 
B. Prepare a Substitute W-2 Using Form 4852 - Contact this office about having a Form 4852 prepared. You use this option as a last resort after having exhausted your efforts to obtain a W-2 from the employer. With luck, you will have your last pay stub, which will include the information needed to accurately prepare the 4852. If not, other means will have to be used to estimate the amounts, which may result in having to amend your return at a later date if the estimate is subsequently determined to be inaccurate. The following information will be needed to complete the substitute W-2:
  • Your identification number and dates of employment,
  • Your employer/payer's name, address (including ZIP code), and phone number
  • If known, your employer/payer's identification number (EIN). If you worked for the same employer in the prior year, the EIN will be on that W-2.
  • Wages, tips, and other compensation you received during the year
  • Social security wages 
  • Medicare wages and tips 
  • Social security tips
  • Federal income tax withheld 
  • State income tax withheld
  • Local income tax withheld
  • Social security tax withheld
  • Medicare tax withheld
Regardless of the option you choose, you will still have to file your tax return by the April due date or file for a six-month extension. Be aware that if you plan on making an IRA contribution and have not already done so, the extension will not extend the time available to make a contribution. IRA contributions must be made by the April due date of your return.

Even if you don’t receive a W-2, you are still required to file your tax return or request a filing extension by the April due date.

A. If you anticipate that you will ultimately receive the missing W-2, this office can estimate your tax liability and file extensions for you. If you have a substantial refund coming, you may opt to have this office prepare a substitute W-2, enabling you to file without the W-2. Refunds for returns that include substitute W-2s can be delayed significantly while the IRS verifies the W-2 information.

B. If you don’t anticipate receiving the missing W-2, then this office can prepare a substitute W-2, enabling you to file your tax return in a timely manner.

If the reason you have not received a W-2 is because the employer never filed one or failed to remit the money that was withheld from your wages, don’t be concerned. The government is responsible for collecting those funds and will credit you for them, whether it received them or not.

Please call this office if you have questions or need tax-preparation assistance.

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