That little piece of paper called a W-2 provides essential information you need to file your tax return. If it doesn’t show up and causes you to be late filing, you stand to pay a stiff penalty if you owe the Internal Revenue Service money. If you are due a refund, you can’t get it until you file. Fortunately, the IRS has a procedure for you to follow if your employer failed to provide you with a W-2 or it is lost or damaged.
W-2 Due Date
An employer might fail to provide your W-2 for several reasons. For example, if you moved, your personnel file might not have been updated with your new address. The IRS says your employer must furnish your W-2 by Jan. 31 to allow you time to prepare your tax return. If it has not shown up by the deadline or if the information is incorrect, notify your employer immediately and ask for a new W-2.
The IRS says to wait a couple of weeks after you request a replacement W-2. If your employer hasn’t sent it by Feb. 14, notify the IRS. Be prepared to provide your employer’s name, address, phone number and employer identification number. Use your last pay stub to make an estimate of your wages and taxes withheld and give this information to the IRS along with your address, phone number and Social Security number. The IRS will contact your employer and try to resolve the problem.
Alternative Filing Procedure
If tax time starts getting close and you still don’t have a W-2, the IRS has a way to file your return on time without it. Go to the IRS website and download Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. Complete this form using your last pay stub and any other information you have. Use Form 4852 to prepare your tax return and get it filed by the deadline, which is April 15 for most people.
Your employer may eventually provide the missing W-2. If you’ve already filed your taxes using the 4852 form, check your figures against the W-2. If there is a discrepancy, file an amended tax return using IRS Form 1040X. If you overpaid your taxes, the IRS will send you a refund. If you underpaid, send in the unpaid taxes with the 1040X amended return.