If you're an employee, your Form W-2 is the crucial piece of evidence of your income. The IRS legally requires your employer to send a copy back to the IRS and you- free of charge. Your employer has until January 30 to send out employee W-2s to give everyone enough time to prepare for tax season. If you haven't received it by February 14, it's time to sound the alarm.
A minority of people never get their W-2 from their employers. Those people have recourse to request it, but, what if I lost my W2, you ask? The same rule applies. Here's what to do if you don't have your W-2 form by February 14, 2019.
I Lost My W2: Two Ways To Get A New One
Need a new form W-2 or never got one in the first place? You have two options: ask for a new one or contact the IRS. Ideally, you can start by talking to your employer and only raise the issue with the IRS if necessary. Here's how to get started and when to get the IRS involved.
Ask For A W2
If you had a form and lost it, you should be able to ask HR or your accounting office for a new one. Providing a new one is simple, and they are legally obligated to provide it. While your employer may not charge you for your first copy, the rules disappear for a second or third copy. There's no statute preventing your employer from charging an administrative fee for providing a second copy.
It's not the charitable thing to do, but they can. If you never received your W2 form and now have concerns that it was lost in the mail, wait to ask for a copy. Your employer has until the end of January to provide you with your W-2, so don't worry about not receiving yours until at least the end of the month.
Keep in mind that the forms only have to be in the mail by the end of January. You may need to wait for it to be delivered. If it hasn't shown up, contact your employer through HR or accounting. In most cases, they'll send over a new one quickly to your address or via email. It's unlikely your employer chose to withhold it willingly.
Often, failure to provide a W-2 form is the result of a clerical error. They might have skipped yours during printing, or a typo could have derailed it. Additionally, if you moved recently, HR may not have updated your new address in all its systems, so your W2 could be waiting for you at your old address. Check-in at the end of the month to find out what's going on.
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Ask The IRS
It's rare, but sometimes employers don't provide you with a W2. Often, this is the case with an employer who has since gone out of business. Every employer is legally obligated to provide it, so failure to do so may indicate a wider issue in the back office. Don't panic yet. If you can't get one from your employer by February 14, call the IRS.
When you call, the IRS looks up your W2 information according to your identifying data:
- Social Security number
- Employer Identification Number (EIN) if possible
- Date of employment
- Estimate of earnings
- Contact number
If you don't know your EIN or an estimate of your wages, use your payslips to work backwards. Your employer's EIN should be on your paystub. Offering more information allows the IRS to work faster. Once the IRS verifies your identity, they can send over a copy of your W2. Remember, the employer is required to submit a copy to the IRS, so one should already be on file.
Still No W-2? Use Form 4852
Was your employer and the IRS both a dead end? You can still file your taxes even without your W-2. Although the W2 form is the easiest way to complete your taxes, the IRS offers a backstop option: Form 4852. Form 4852 is a substitute for the Form W2. You'll fill out Form 4852 with your wages and the federal taxes amount withheld.
Again, using your paystubs allows you to record your income accurately and avoid questions or additional fees. If possible, file your Form 4852 on, or before the traditional tax deadline. Even if you're waiting on your W2, it's better to submit the form on time. You can work with an accountant to amend your tax statement if you get your W2 later than this and your returns require it.
File An Extension
Don't have your W2 or pay stubs? It's possible to file a tax extension to help you get all the relevant documents together. A tax extension gives you a kosher option for waiting for a W2 or even a tax investigation of your employer if required. Filing an extension is simple. You can use the IRS Free File service to return Form 4868 for a tax extension. If granted, you have an additional six months to complete your tax return.
Keep in mind that you still need to pay taxes owed by the original due date. You have more time to complete an accurate filing, but if you owe federal income tax, you must pay it by April 18.
Don't Panic Over A Lost W2
Getting a second copy of a W2 form is easy - all you need to do is admit "I lost my W2" and then ask for another. If for some reason your tax form disappeared completely, don't worry. Keeping your paystubs allows you to file a substitute form to make sure you complete your taxes on time and as accurately as possible.
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