Can I File Tax Returns Two Times for Two W-2s?

by Patrick Gleeson, Ph. D., Registered Investment Adv
If you receive an incorrect W-2, ask your employer to send you a corrected Form W-2C.

If you are filing as an individual, you cannot file more than one tax return. If you receive multiple W-2s, add those amounts and include the total on your IRS Form 1040. In general, if you receive duplicate W-2 forms for the same amount from the same employer, file only one form and include only the income from that form on your return. If you receive W-2s that are incorrect, there are relatively simple ways of correcting the problem.

Identifying the Taxpayer

The Internal Revenue Service uses a unique number to identify each taxpayer and to distinguish that taxpayer from all others. For individuals, that number is your nine-digit Social Security number. If you earned wages or other compensation from an employer during the tax year, you receive a W-2 form from the employer reporting that income. Another copy of the W-2 reports that same income to the IRS. Because your Social Security number appears on each document each employer submits, even if you have earnings from several employers and each employer reports income separately, all earnings are credited to your account.

Multiple W-2s

Since an employer must file a W-2 for each worker, if you worked for more than one employer during the tax year, you will receive more than one W-2. In some instances, you may receive more than one W-2 from the same employer. Sometimes the additional W-2s are accounting mistakes; in these cases, the amounts are often identical. At other times, each W-2 is valid. This can happen, for example, if you work through a placement or temp agency. Each W-2 is for a separate job, but since it goes through your agency, it has the same Employer Identification Number. If you are unsure about the validity of a W-2, contact the provider's payroll department.

Reporting Multiple W-2s

Add together all earnings, including wages, salaries and tips, as they appear in Box 1 of each of your multiple W-2s. On Line 7 of your IRS Form 1040, enter the total. If one of your jobs was as a household employee and you earned less than $1,800, your employer will not have sent a W-2 for this income. You are still obligated to report this income, as well as any tip income you did not report to your employer.

Incorrect W-2s

If one of your employers sent you an incorrect W-2, contact the employer, explain the problem to the payroll department and ask for a W-2C, the corrected form. If the employer fails to send the corrected form, call the nearest IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center and ask to file a complaint. If the problem is unresolved by the filing deadline, fill out and file IRS Form 4582, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, and include the correct total instead of the incorrect total from the W-2.

About the Author

Patrick Gleeson received a doctorate in 18th century English literature at the University of Washington. He served as a professor of English at the University of Victoria and was head of freshman English at San Francisco State University. Gleeson is the director of technical publications for McClarie Group and manages an investment fund. He is a Registered Investment Advisor.

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