What To Do If You Haven’t Received Your W-2

by Ron Haynes

Employers are required to send W-2 wage statements to their employees no later than January 31 of each year. Many employers send W-2s earlier (some by a couple of weeks) in order to allow employees to complete their tax return as early as possible. That W-2 is critical to completing your tax return … without it you’re sunk. But what if you don’t receive yours on time? What if you’re hearing your co-workers talk about completing their tax return and you’re still waiting on that uniquely shaped envelope that contains your W-2?

What to do if you are missing your W-2

If the January 31st deadline passes and you still haven’t received your W-2 from your employer, take these steps:

1. Ask your employer or employers when the W-2 was mailed. If it was mailed, it may have been returned due to an incorrect or incomplete address. After contacting your employer, allow a week to ten days for the W-2 to be resent and go through the mail system.

2. Ask your employer if the W-2 can be reprinted while you wait. One year mine didn’t arrive on time and our payroll clerk simply printed one for me on the spot. Another alternative is to ask if it can be emailed to you as a PDF.

invest, investor, investing, lending

TurboTax vs H&R Block: which one is better?

3. Call the IRS for help. If your employer claims to have sent your W-2 and cannot reprint it or email it and you still haven’t received your W-2 by February 14, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. When you call, you’ll need to provide:

  • Personally identifiable information such as your SSN
  • An estimate of the wages you earned
  • The amount of federal income tax withheld during the year
  • The dates you worked for that employer during the tax year

This information should be based on the year-to-date numbers from your final pay stub for the year or your leave-and-earnings statement if you are no longer employed with this employer.

4. REMEMBER! You still must file your tax return or request an extension to file by the deadline, even if you do not receive your W-2. If you have not received your W-2 by the tax due date, and have completed steps 1 and 2, you may use Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. Attach Form 4852 to your return, estimating income and withholding taxes as accurately as possible. Understand that any refund you’re owed may be delayed while the information you provided is verified.

5. You may have to amend your return. If you may receive your missing W-2 after you filed your return using Form 4852, and the information may be different from what you reported on your return. If this happens, you must amend your return by filing a Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Have you received your W-2?


About the author

Ron Haynes has written 988 articles on The Wisdom Journal.

The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.