What Happens If You Lose Your W2 Form?

by Lance


During tax season, there is a lot of hustle to make sure you have the right documents, forms, and information that will allow you to file taxes in a timely manner. Taxpayers must often wait to receive this information in the mail before proceeding to their tax preparation office or preparing their own files using tax software. One document vital to the tax filings is the W2 form which employers provide to their employees to prove wage earnings and tax statements for individual returns. The employers are required by law to send out the W2 forms before the end of January. Many times the forms can arrive late or not at all. It may also be a possibility that your W2’s were received fine but subsequently lost before filing taxes.  The information on your W2 form is key to completing your tax return especially if you are using tax software such as TurboTax.

Get a New W2

Since time is of the essence and taxes must be filed before the April deadline, it is important that you make the effort immediately to have a new W2 sent to you. You can start by contacting your current or past employer who would have issued the W2 from. Explain your W2 was never received or accidentally lost and request that a new one be mailed to you. Many times as people move, their tax documents will not be forwarded correctly so be sure your employer has your correct mailing address.

If you are unable to contact your employer, which may be the case with previous employers or closed businesses, you can contact the IRS directly. You will need to provide the representative with your employment information, current mailing address, and an estimate of how much money you earned for the tax year. The IRS will be able to guide you based on the information they have received from your employer.

Filing Taxes Without Your W2

If the deadline is approaching, you should still file your tax return on time without the W2. You can complete Form 4852, which is a substitute for the W2 form. You can use past pay stubs to help guesstimate how much money you earned as well as the amount of taxes withheld for the tax year. After you have filed your tax return and you receive a copy of the lost W2, you must amend your federal return as soon as possible.

It can be very easy to lose or misplace an important tax document such as the W2. At the start of each year, you can prevent this from occurring again by establishing a file folder and placing all relevant tax documents, receipts, and paperwork into it for the rest of the year to make tax filing easier. You should also remember to create a list of people and places to contact should you move to a new address within the course of a year. Include on this list current and former employers so you’ll remember to advise them of the changes before tax time rolls around again.  Keeping your tax paperwork organized can make your life a lot easier around tax time.

More resources

2009 Income tax changes

Check out a comprehensive review of all the editions of TurboTax tax software.

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