It’s easy to lose your W-2 and just as simple to file without it.
E-filing your tax return these days is pretty straightforward. You just plug in the numbers on your W-2 to the online tax application, take the credits and deductions you’re entitled to, and VOILA! Couldn’t be simpler.
But what happens if you don’t have a W-2? Suddenly things get a lot more complicated. Don’t worry. There are steps to take to make sure you get your tax return to the IRS.
Contact your employer
First thing’s first. Make every attempt to get the actual document itself. If your employer didn’t send you one, or sent you one that was incorrect, contact them and request that they send you the right one.
Employers are required to have W-2 forms issued to their employees by January 31. If you still don’t have it by then, it’s time to take additional action. At this point you should call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 and tell them about your missing W-2. They will call your employer and tell them to send you the W-2.
You may need to fill out IRS forms
If this still fails to get you a W-2, the IRS will tell you to file Form 4852 [Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, or Form 1099-R, Distributions from Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, etc.].
As stated above, you should only complete this form if you absolutely can’t get the original W-2, or if the original is incorrect. Once you complete Form 4852 you should submit it along with your prepared tax return.
Just as a warning, don’t attempt to avoid or evade your tax liability by improperly taking advantage of Form 4852. You could face some pretty severe penalties including:
- accuracy-related penalties at 20% of the tax that should have been paid
- civil fraud penalties at 75% of taxes that should have been paid
- a $5,000 civil penalty for filing a frivolous return
Consequences when you file taxes without a W-2
Many people trying to get their refund as soon as possible assume that they can file a tax return without a W-2 using the information from their last pay stub. While technically you can do this, it’s not a good idea. Why not? Well, if it turns out that you file using your pay stub and the information you enter doesn’t match the information on the W-2 on file with the IRS, you will have to file an amended return, which will end up costing you time and money.
If you’re trying to file a prior year return and you’re missing the W-2 from that year, you can retrieve a transcript of your W-2 from the IRS and use that to complete your return.
Then, once you’re ready you’ll be able to save time by preparing your taxes online with PriorTax! The user-friendly tax application makes filing taxes easy!