To file your income tax return this year, you must have all necessary documents, including your W-2. The W-2 Tax Form reports your annual wages, tips, commissions, and the amount your employer withheld from your earnings during the year. According to the IRS, your employer must send W-2 forms to employees by the end of January. If you haven’t received your W-2, don’t worry, we’re here to help. Here are a few steps you can take to track down what you need to get started. 


  1. Contact your employer or former employer. Verify that forms were sent by mail and, if they were, make sure they have your address listed correctly. It could just be that the return was sent to an incorrect or incomplete address. Usually they can get you another copy with no hassle, and in many cases you can even get your W-2 online and print a new copy without waiting for the mail.
  2. Contact the IRS. If you don’t have any luck reaching your employer and still haven’t received your W-2 by February 14th, contact the IRS for assistance at 800-829-1040. The IRS will need your name, address, phone number, Social Security Number, dates of employment, and your employer’s name, address and phone number. The IRS will contact the employer on your behalf to request the missing form.
  3. File Form 4852. If you have followed steps one and two and do not receive your W-2 Form, you are still required to file a tax return or request an extension. In this case, you will need to fill out a Form 4852, a substitute form for the W-2, and attach it to your return. To complete this form, you’ll need to know your total wages earned, payroll taxes withheld, federal and state income tax withheld, 401(k) contributions and your employer’s identification number. Unfortunately, your refund could be a bit delayed while the information is verified.
  4. File Form 1040X. If you take these steps and file your return without your W-2, you may need to amend your return once you receive the official forms. For example, if you file using Form 4852 then later receive your W-2 and the information is different than what you reported, you will use Form 1040X to amend. Processing an amended return usually takes about 4 to 6 weeks.


In addition to missing W-2 forms, many taxpayers struggle with tracking down 1099 forms. If you are an independent contractor and performed work for any company that paid you $600 or more, each of them must issue you a 1099-MISC form. Like W-2s, 1099s are also usually distributed before early February. If you haven’t received your 1099 form, contact the issuer for a copy. If you’re unable to reach them, you may be able to obtain the missing data from end of year statements or through online account access. 

Your tax situation should not be ignored if you don’t receive your W-2 or 1099! Dealing with the missing forms before filing is much easier than opening a tax bill with interest and penalties tacked on later in the year. For assistance tracking down your information or understanding what you need to complete your return, contact your local tax preparation office.


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