Where is my W-2? How can I get a copy?
If you ever find yourself, or one of your employees asking this question about a former employer, you have options.
Most workers receive their Form W-2 in the mail (or through an employee self-service portal) by the end of January. If you are not familiar with this form, the Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, shows the income and taxes withheld from an employee’s pay for the year. This form is needed in order to file a complete tax return with the IRS each year.
So, what happens if you do not receive your W-2?
The first step is to reach out to the employer. Keep in mind, employers are required to issue a W-2 form to any employee who worked in the calendar year. Even if the employee is no longer employed as of December 31. Typically, a Payroll or Human Resources contact in the organization is the best individual to reach out to, however, the employee’s manager can likely point them in the right direction as well.
What if your employer will not provide you with a copy of your W-2 form?
Call the IRS. If you cannot get a copy from your employer, you may call the IRS after Feb. 27. The IRS will send a letter to the employer on the worker’s behalf. The worker will need the following when calling the IRS:
- Name, address, Social Security number and phone number;
- Employer’s name, address and phone number;
- The dates worked for the employer; and
- An estimate of wages and federal income tax withheld for the year (Use a final pay stub for these amounts).
If you have not received a W-2 form before the filing deadline, do not think you will get a free pass. If you have not received your W-2 form, you will need to complete Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage, and Tax Statement. You should estimate your wages and taxes withheld as accurately as possible. To request more time to file, use Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File. You can even e-file a request for more time, using IRS Free File. However, keep in mind that an extension of time to file a tax return is not an extension of time to pay the taxes owed.
Once you do receive a W-2 form, hold on to it. Whether you save a paper a copy of the form, or you store it electronically, make sure to store it with your financial records for future reference.
Need more information? Check out the Internal Revenue Service website.
Need a better way to distribute W-2 forms to your employees? Check out the Greenshades Year-End Forms Solution.