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How to Get a Copy of W-2 Form for Prior Years

How to Get a Copy of W-2 Form from Prior Years

Are you ready to file a prior year tax return but can’t find your W-2 from that year?

If you realized you have a lost a prior year W-2, there’s still hope. The process to get a copy of a W-2 can be fairly simple. In order to receive a copy of the prior year W-2, you have two options. After requesting the W-2 and once you receive it, you can start filing your late tax return on Prior Tax.

Option #1: Contact your Employer

The easiest way to get a copy of a lost W-2, is to contact the employer who issued it.  The payroll department of your employer (or former employer) should be saving important tax information, such as W-2s. Ask for the W-2 to be sent to you.  This process is pretty simple and shouldn’t take much time.

Option #2: Contact the IRS

If contacting the employer who issued the W-2 is not an option, contact the IRS and request form 4506. This alternative will take time and money. However, it’s better to receive the copy of the W-2 and file your prior year tax return rather than doing nothing and not filing.

What you should know when requesting previous year W2 forms from the IRS:

  • The IRS keeps copies of past W-2s (and all tax documents under your Social Security Number) from the last 7-10      years.
  • The W-2s are not available from the IRS until one year after they were filed.
  • You will need to fill out Form 4506 (be sure to write clearly and sign).
  • The service fee is $57 for each W-2 requested. Checks can be made to “The United States Treasury”.
  • The address to send form 4506 and check to will be listed on the second page of the form. Be sure to send both the form 4506 and check to this address.
  • You will have to wait up to two months (or perhaps longer) for the IRS to process your request and send you the copy of your form W-2.

Get Started Filing Your Prior Year Tax Return

It’s pretty clear that contacting your employer (or previous employer) for the copy of your W-2 is the best option. However, maybe you never want to speak to a previous employer again or instead, have no way in contacting the employer. Whatever the case may be, the IRS will issue you copies of the W-2 for previous years.

Once you receive the copy of the W-2, you can then use the information provided and start filing the previous year tax return. 

Photo via Angela Hartwig on Flickr

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12 Responses to “How to Get a Copy of W-2 Form for Prior Years”

  1. Angel Hoskey says:

    I need to get a copy of my 2012 w2, unable to get a response from the employer. Looking to get a new house and the mortgage company requires this form. How do I securely get this document?

    Thank You

  2. Querida says:

    I need a copy of my W-2 or just the amount the state took from from the previous year. Where can I get that from

  3. George says:

    I need a copy of my 2003 tax return, and there is nowhere get it.
    Searched the IRS Website and registered for a transcript and they only have them back to 2004, in my case.
    So, the IRS does not have a copy of my 2003 W-2.
    I met with the State Tax Board and they only have a “Third Party” document (which they refuse to show me), and the NC DOR says it shows the income and no deductions taken out, which is of course completely incorrect and inaccurate.

    If anyone knows how to get one, please let me know. But, also please do not suggest I go to the IRS Website, or The Social Security Administration, or the State Tax Board. I have been to all, and have exhausted those avenues.

    The employer from that year sold the business 8 years ago. So, that avenue is gone.

    The State Tax Board is stating I owe the taxes they already collected but just didn’t credit into the system. They have nothing but a “Third Party” source that only states income and nothing else, and I have no w-2 to prove that the taxes were paid.


    • admin says:

      Hi George,

      Since you have contacted the IRS, the SSA and the State Tax Board, the only other option may be to contact whoever prepared your return for you in hopes that they may possibly have a record for you.

  4. joseph carney says:

    i need a copy of my w2 forms can you send me a copy on my email please

    • admin says:

      Hi Joseph,

      As stated in the article, you will need to contact either your employer or the IRS for a copy of your W-2 form. Unfortunately, we do not have access to that information.

  5. John says:

    Hello, I got a new job this year and left my old one. I had recently contacted my former employer for this year’s W-2 and he has not sent it to me and it has been over 2 months since I requested it. I have also sworn into the Navy and will be leaving soon which is why I would like to have it early. What can I do if my former employer continues to neglect my request?

    • admin says:

      Hi John,

      If your former employer is refusing to issue you a W2, you can file an IRS substitute W-2 form on your own (Form 4852), using the information from your records. The IRS will then review your information and handle the rest from there.

      You can use this form for any of the missing documents in the title of the form.

  6. nick says:

    Hi, my problem involves me attempting to buy a house, I need a w2 from 2012, only problem is my former employer is refusing to issue one, and after calling the IRS they did no recieve a copy from my former employer, what are my options for retrieving my w2?

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