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To prepare your tax return, you'll need a form W-2, or Wage and Tax statement, from each organization your worked for during the previous year. Tax-filing season starts officially on Jan. 29 this year, and your employer has until the end of January to mail out your W-2.

If you don't receive the form by mid-February, contact your employer to inquire if and when it was mailed. It is possible your employer has an old or incorrect address listed for you, or that your employer sent the form electronically to your email inbox. Request that the W-2 be resent if you don't unearth it in your email, and ask when you can expect to receive it.

Contact the IRS if your employer is not being cooperative. Call 800-829-1040 and be prepared to provide the following:

  • Your name, address, Social Security number, phone number
  • Employer’s name, address, and phone number
  • Dates of employment
  • An estimate of the wages you earned and the federal income tax withheld (You can use your final pay stub of 2017 to figure this out.)

Even if you do not receive your W-2 form before the tax filing season ends, you still must file your taxes or request a six-month extension by the tax-filing deadline. That deadline is April 17 in 2018, because the traditional filing date, April 15, falls on a Sunday this year—and then Emancipation Day celebrations in D.C. happen the following day, on April 16. If you've contacted both your employer and the IRS and are not filing for an extension, fill out Form 4852, the substitute for the W-2. Attach the form to your return, estimating income and withholding taxes as accurately as possible. There will likely be a delay in processing your refund, if you're due one, as the agency will need to verify your estimates.

If you receive your missing W-2 after you've filed your return using Form 4852, and the information is different from what you reported, you will have to amend your return by filing Form 1040X.