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Missing a W2? Here’s What to Do…

missing a w2So – you’re all set to do your taxes.  And then… you realize you’re missing something.  One of your W2’s hasn’t shown up in the mail.  Maybe it was a short-term or a part-time gig, or maybe the business changed hands – or maybe it just got lost in the mail.

Whatever the reason, you’re missing one of the documents that you need in order to prepare your tax return.  So what do you do?

What Do You Do?

Your employer is required to send your W2 earnings statement to you by February 1 for the prior year’s earnings. But sometimes things go awry, and you don’t receive the form. There are four steps to follow to retrieve the required information…

  1. Contact your employer – inquire if and when the W2 forms were mailed out.  It’s possible that the postal service returned it to your employer due to an incorrect or incomplete address.  Even if it hasn’t been returned, your employer should be able to produce a new copy of the form and send it out to you.
  2. Contact the IRS – the IRS receives a copy of all W2 forms filed.  Wait until after February 16, and then you can call the taxpayer assistance line at 800-829-1040.  Make sure you have as much information about the earnings as possible – including your employer’s name and address, your dates of employment, and an estimate of your earnings (you can get this from your end-of-year pay stub).  The IRS should be able to produce the appropriate information for you or direct you to the steps you need to take.
  3. File your return – on time if you can, or with a timely filed extension request, even if you have not received the W2.  If you have taken the first two steps and still have not received the form by April 15, use Form 4852, “Substitute for Form W2, Wage and Tax Statement”.  Attach Form 4852 to your return, using your last pay stub to estimate your earnings and withholding taxes.  Keep in mind that using Form 4852 may delay any refund due to additional processing required.
  4. File an amended return – if you happen to receive your W2 after you’ve filed using Form 4852 and the W2 includes different information than you used to prepare your return.  Use Form 1040X to file this amended return, within 3 years of the original return deadline.

You can find the forms mentioned above on the IRS website.

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