Lost Your W-2? Here's What to Do
As the 2016 tax deadline gets closer, many U.S. taxpayers are scrambling to find all the documents they need to file their taxes. So, what would you do if you realized that, among all of your files, you’ve either misplaced or have not yet received your W-2 form? Don’t panic. Luckily, there are easy ways to obtain access to your missing W-2 or simply file your return without it.
Help! I Lost My W-2 Form
For most tax filers, the W-2 is a critical piece of information that validates income earned throughout the tax year. The form, also known as the Wage and Tax Statement, is one that your employer sends you near the beginning of each calendar year. By law, businesses are required to mail these forms by Jan. 31 in order to give filers ample time to meet the April 18 income tax filing deadline. Your employer is also required to send a copy of the form directly to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
But what do you do if you can’t find your W-2? According to the IRS, there are many options to consider.
Read More: 6 Biggest Tax Law Changes of 2016
1. Contact Your Employer
If you haven’t received your W-2, it’s not too late to contact your employer; let someone in your human resources department know and inquire if and when it will be mailed. It’s possible that the form was mailed, but had to be returned to your employer due to an incorrect or incomplete address.
2. Contact the IRS Directly
Another option is contacting the IRS directly. The agency suggests contacting it at 1-800-829-1040 if you didn’t receive your form by Feb. 14. When you call, be prepared to provide the following:
- Your name, address, city, state, zip code, Social Security number and phone number
- Your employer’s name, address and phone number
- Dates of employment
- An estimate of wages earned, federal income tax withheld and dates worked for your employer during 2015. These estimates can be acquired by looking at year-to-date information from your last pay stub of 2015.
If you contact the IRS directly when you realize your W-2 is missing, it might be able to locate the form that was already sent by your employer with enough time to forward it along.
3. File Your Return Without It
Whether you have your W-2 or not, the IRS requires that you file your tax return or request a tax extension by April 18. If you have already contacted the IRS about your lost return, the agency asks that you fill out IRS Form 4852, which serves as a substitute for your W-2 form.
You will need to attach Form 4852 to your 1040, estimating income and withholding taxes as well as any tax deductions as accurately as possible. The IRS warns that taking this route could result in a delay in your refund since it will need time to verify the information you’ve provided.
If your W-2 arrives after you’ve already filed your return using Form 4852 and you realize your wage and tax withheld details are wrong, you can amend the return. You will need to file the Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return — Form 1040X — so that you can report the correct information to the IRS.
Read More: 12 Worst Tax-Filing Mistakes First-Timers Always Make — and How to Avoid Them
How Do I Find My Lost W-2 Form Online?
Aside from working with the IRS or your employer, there are a couple websites that could help you locate your W-2 information electronically.
1. Tax Form Management: This outsourced service, formerly W-2 Management from TALX, automates the W-2 process, including printing and distributing original statements and reissuing W-2s. It requires a few steps to gain access to a W-2 if your employer is listed in its system.
To get started, search for your employer’s name or code. After locating your employer, retrieve its ID number. This number, along with some of your personal, secure information such as the gross amount of your last paycheck, will allow you to login. Once you’ve logged in, you can select to view your W-2 online or print it. It’s good to note, however, that not all employers are linked to this service.
2. Rapid Tax: This authorized IRS e-file provider also offers free access to W-2 forms online.
3. Ask Your Employer: You can always check with your employer to see if it has a website already set up that allows you to access your W-2s online.
Read More: 9 New or Improved Tax Breaks for 2016
Where Are the IRS Tax Forms I Need to File My Taxes?
Now that you know who to ask and where to go to find the information you need to file, here are all of the forms mentioned in this article. You can use these forms to ensure you file your taxes before the April 18 tax deadline.
|If you want to …||Then you need …|
|File your tax return with your W-2||Form 1040|
|Use a substitute tax form until you get your W-2||Form 4852|
|File an amended tax return||Form 1040X|
Jamie Young contributed to this article.
This article originally appeared on GoBankingRates.