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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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2 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

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