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

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

Ready to file your tax return but can’t find your W-2?

If you realized you 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 your prior year W-2, you have three options. After requesting the W-2 , create an account and start preparing your late tax return on Prior Tax.

Option #1: Get your W-2 from previous 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: Get your W-2 from employer’s payroll provider.

Have you asked your employer for your W-2 and noticed that he mentally added the task to the very bottom of his To-Do list? If you know that your employer (or past employer) uses a payroll provider instead of calculating payroll in-office, skip the middleman and give the company a call yourself. When you call, be prepared to verify your SSN or employee number as they may ask for it. While speaking to the payroll provider, you may want to confirm the following:

  • Specify the year of the W-2 form that you need sent to you.
  • Verify the address they have on file for you. This is the address they will mail your W-2 to.
  • Ask how long it will take for them to mail your W-2 form.

Option #3: Get your W-2 from 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 $50 for each request. Checks can be made out 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 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. 

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Updated February 2016

Photo via Helga Weber on Flickr

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54 Responses to “How to Get a Copy of Your 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.

    • Christy says:

      I am in EXACTLY the same situation! my previous company has been sold twice and there are no longer any records of my w-2 from the year 2000. The state of Maryland has estimated I owe them over $14k for state taxes because they say I can’t prove state taxes were withheld from my salary. I have gone to the IRS, The SSA and the State Tax Board as well and have had no luck.

      I just tried contacting the current company to see if by chance, they have information from the previous company, but unfortunately, I came out with the same result. My last ditch effort is to contact ADP in hopes my previous company used them for payroll. I am hoping ADP has the information I need. If so, I will definitely report back. Best of luck. It’s completely frustrating dealing with these government agencies, knowing there HAS to be a copy of my w-2 somewhere and not being able to obtain it.

      • Jessica says:

        Has anyone had any luck with getting their w-2 with this problem?? Same boat.. 2006 w-2 needed for a Texas resident being forced with Lien on my bank account from California, from when I was a military wife. TIA.

        • Debra says:

          Well, I felt i was all alone in this situation of overdue taxes of ancient years. I apparently owe a lot of money to IRS and the Franchise tax board of california for the years of 2003, 2004 and 2005. I called my old job to see if they could send my copies and their business department said they do not hold on to W’2’s from that long a period from employee’s that do not worked their any more. Is that true? Because, this was a nursing facility i worked at and they are still in business. My next question is that I talked with the IRS and Franchise Tax Board about sending me copie’s of my W’2’s from those years and they said they do not have W’2’s from those years because they have nothing to do with keeping employee’s W’2’s for that long a period. Next question, if that’s the case how come they are sending me letters from these years (The Same Years) with to diffent amounts of over $9,000.00 from 2003 and over $7,000.00 for 2004 and that is just IRS need I say more regarding Franchise Tax Board of what I owe them? Because I can. I know about acruing interests on back taxes but how are they informing me of what I owe if they aren”t looking at my w’2’s in which they could send me a copy of so that I can see if I owe them for those years still because I have been moving around a lot due to illness and wanting to be close to family but I also wasn’t at that address anymore to receve those w’2’s I owe. So, is there anyplace that I can write or call for those years of old tax years so that I can start honoring my payments. Which I’m going to have to do anyway to pay them.
          HELP! Debra

  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?

  7. Denisha says:

    I received a letter from the IRS stating that I owed about $1, 000 because I did not file 2 of my w2’s from 2012, and they know I received income from these 2 particular jobs. But the person I let file my 2012 taxes is now deceased, and she never got to return me my paper work, so Im lost and do not know what to do…Can someone please give me some insite on this situation. Because if the IRS claims they were not filed can I file them with my 2014 taxes if I call my previous jobs to get copies??? This tax stuff is so confusing to me….

    • admin says:

      Hi Denisha,

      You can file your 2012 return along with your 2014 return. Your employer should be able to provide you with copies of your 2012 W-2 forms. If not, the IRS will have transcripts that you can request right from their website. These transcripts will provide you with the pay information you need to file.

  8. Angie says:

    I understand that you can get a copy of the transcript but is there no way to get a copy of the W-2 from the IRS? Many mortgage companies, will not take the transcript.

    • admin says:

      Hi Angie,

      You will most likely need to contact the employer directly for the W-2. The transcripts will typically suffice but if not, I also suggest contacting the IRS for further instruction on the documents that they can provide to you.

  9. carrie says:

    I haven’t filed my taxes since 2010 and I have worked some every year since but never received any of my w2s. How do I get my w2 for the previous years if I don’t remember every place I worked?

  10. Kourtney says:

    I use to have a different job and different adress , I called them and told them my adress changed so they would send the w2 form to the right place but they can’t change my adress because I no long work their will changingy adress at the post office fix this and what if it is too late ??

    • admin says:

      Hi Kourtney,

      I suggest contacting the post office. They most likely have sent it back to your employer if you no longer live at the old address on file.

  11. Oralia says:

    I found the answer to my question on a previous question. Thanks a bunchs to this site!

  12. runtavious malcom says:

    I was in prision in 2014 and my sister lost my w2 so wat do I do about getting a copy of it now and filing them

    • admin says:


      I suggest contacting the IRS and requesting a transcript. This will provide all information listed on your W-2 that is needed to file a tax return.

  13. Bernadette Hill says:

    please help me get my w2 forms i lost them back in 2012 i really need to get another copy i worked for company called fieldworks for politics getting potions sighned and i lost them in the process of moving so piease help me and thank u have a bless day

    • admin says:

      Hi Bernadette,

      You have two options. You can either contact your employer who may still have a copy with their pay roll department OR you can contact the IRS and request a transcript from that year. A transcript will have any information listed on a W-2 form that is needed to file a tax return.

  14. lisa schlotthauer says:

    I’m helping a friend out .. How do I retrieve w2s. From 2012, 2013, 2014 years can’t remember all places worked and need to file for court ?

    • admin says:

      Hi Lisa,

      The simplest and least expensive route to take would be to contact all past employers for those year. However, there is another way to locate your W-2 information by contacting the IRS. You will need to submit three transcript requests (one for each year). Keep in mind that there is a fee for each W-2 that you request.

  15. Getter Done says:

    Trying to assist in catching up tax filings which as well as I can figure out go back to 2010. Have the W-2 forms and am ready to go but wanted to see if there is a way to confirm that the last filing done was actually for the 2009 tax year…can’t find a copy in any searching that’s been done. A divorce happened and paperwork is askew! Would appreciate any and all help but feel as thought I’d like to have confirmation of last file date before I proceed.

    • admin says:


      Not a problem! What you will need to do is request a transcript on the IRS website. You can choose to view the transcript online or receive a copy by mail. The transcript will show any tax return transactions made for those years along with other pertinent information that may be useful to you before proceeding to file prior year tax returns.

  16. Vicky Kozak says:


    I am helping a friend file back taxes and we need to request W-2’s for 2009-2010-2011. We have the following ones 2012-2013-2014 ready to file at the tax accountant. I see that the IRS charges $57 for each year, but the form 4506 that I printed out says it is $50 for each year. I want to make sure that we send in the correct amount. Also she needs to request 1099’s will the IRS supply all information from those years for that cost?? Please let me know.

    Thank you

    • admin says:

      Hello Vicky,

      When completing any forms for the IRS, you are responsible for the amount due on the most recent year of that form. In your case, it looks like the IRS is only charging $50.00 per request. The transcript that they provide you with will include all income earned by you and reported by your employer. As long as your employer reported the income that you earned on your 1099 form to the IRS, then that amount will be seen on the transcript that you receive.

  17. Paola says:

    Hello, I just received a letter from the IRS saying I have to pay $3,900 in taxes. These are the taxes that my former employer withheld. I called the IRS and they said they never received a W-2 from my former employer. I did receive one, but I lost it and my employer wont send me another. What else can I do?

    • admin says:

      Hi Paola,

      This is a tricky situation as your former employer should be facing penalty fees for not submitting employee W-2 forms on time. The IRS insists that you contact them directly in this case. I suggest digging up any and all pay statements that you can find from when you worked with that employer. This will help your case with the IRS.

  18. krys says:

    my husband may need to verify employment for a company that is no longer in business- he will need this to get the job he’s been offered. how long is it going to take and does it really cost $57? Is it something that the bg company NexisLexis shouln’t be requesting?

    • admin says:

      Hi Krys,

      Many companies will accept a transcript over the actual tax return copy which costs $57. The transcript is free of charge and will arrive by mail within 5-10 days. Yo can visit the IRS transcript page HERE.

  19. Folu says:

    I am about to file for my fiancé and parts of the documents needed at the immigration is my W2 but can’t find my 2013 w2 form.My employer can’t help me with that told me to call the IRS,i see that getting the W2 takes months.Do you know if it’s okay to give immigration office the transcript of just get the W2.

    • admin says:

      Hi Folu,

      In most situations, a transcript from the IRS will be sufficient documentation. After taking a look at the immigration website, an IRS transcript is listed as an acceptable form of documentation referring to you and your spouse. You can apply for a transcript by mail on the IRS website page and it should arrive within 5-10 business days.

  20. Victor says:

    Last year I did not file my taxes I do not have my w2 how do I go about recieveing the w2 so I can file last year taxes

    • admin says:

      Hi Victor,

      The quickest way to retrieve a copy of your W-2 form is to ask your employer or their payroll provider for a reissued statement.

      If that doesn’t work, you can order a copy of your W-2 from the Social Security Administration. They’re free if you need them for a Social Security-related reason; otherwise it’s $37 per W-2.

      You also have the option to retrieve wage and income transcripts from the IRS free of charge. They’re not exactly copies of your W-2, but they contain everything on your W-2 except the state and local information.

  21. Awilda says:

    Hi, how do I go about retrieve my state tax informing from a previous year 2012? I got the transcript from the IRS but it doesn’t have state tax info. I need it to file.
    Thanks in advance.

    • admin says:

      Hi Awilda,

      You can obtain the state information that is reported on a W-2 by going to your state’s revenue agency government website. You didn’t mention which state you need so I will provide New York’s as an example HERE. It may look a bit different depending on your state but they all provide the same basic services. As you will see on the NY site, they now allow you to print your transcript from their site instead of having to wait for it to be mailed to you. This is a fairly new feature so it may not be available for all states. If you had more than one state on your 2012 W2, simply go to the website for each state you need.

  22. seana says:

    I filed my 2015 taxes I got a letter in the mail saying they are holding my taxes because I didnt file in 2013.I dont have the w2s for that and the company well was a telemarketing place they gave me the run around.I just need the info off of my w2s the income and what they took out. How do I get that without paying a arm and leg for it.

    • admin says:

      Hi Seana,

      You can request a copy of your W-2 Form from the Social Security Administration HERE. It is a free service if your reason is Social Security-related and $37 each for unrelated reasons. You can also request a copy of your W-2 form from the IRS for free.

  23. PAULA says:


    • admin says:

      Hi Paula,

      The address to mail your request to the IRS is listed on page 2 of the IRS Form 4506. It depends on which state you live in so be sure to see the address with corresponding state.

  24. Melanie says:

    My boyfriend has not filed his taxes for the past 4 years. He does not have a copy of his w2 and has had several jobs that he cannot even remember where he worked. Is there a database or something that I can find his w2 from previous years? help, I’m overwhelmed! Thanks

    • admin says:

      Hi Melanie,

      As long as your boyfriend’s employer’s submitted W-2 information to the IRS (which they are required to do), then he can call the IRS and they will be able to assist. To contact the correct representatives, he will need to call 800-829-1040 and verify his identity.

  25. Sabrina greene says:

    I just want to get my w-2 forms from 2012 and 2013 so I can file them.

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