How Can I Do My Taxes Without My W-2s?

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The Form W-2 that you receive from your employer each year makes filing your income taxes much easier because all of the information that you need for your tax return is listed in one place. The Internal Revenue Service receives a copy of every W-2 form issued by an employer, which makes it very easy for the IRS to ensure that you are correctly reporting your income. If your employer does not provide you with a W-2 form before the deadline to file your taxes, you can take steps to file without it.

Contact Your Employer

Employers have until the end of January to provide employees with copies of their W-2s. If you have not received your W-2 form by the first week of February, the IRS advises that you should contact the employer to inquire about the delay. If you’ve moved, your employer might not have your new mailing address. Ideally, your employer will mail you a replacement W-2 so that you'll have it in time to file your taxes.

Contact the IRS

If you are unable to obtain a W-2 from your employer by Feb. 14, you should contact the IRS to inform them of your situation. Call the IRS at 800-829-1040 and be prepared to give the agent your name, address, Social Security number and phone number to verify your identity. The agent will also request the employer’s name, address and phone number; the dates you were employed by the company; your best estimate of the income you earned from the company; and the federal income tax that the company withheld. Use the year-to-date figures on your last pay stub to estimate these amounts.

Filing Deadline

If you are unable to obtain a replacement W-2, you must still file your income tax return by the mid-April deadline (for 2012, the tax filing deadline is April 17). Use Form 4852 to create a substitute W-2 showing the information that would have been included on your original W-2 and attach a copy of this form to your return. You may experience a delay in receiving your refund because the IRS must verify your information on the substitute form.

Amending Your Return

If you receive your W-2 after you have filed your tax return, or if you discover that the numbers you used on Form 4852 were incorrect, you must file an amended tax return to correct the errors. To file an amended return, use Form 1040X. In Part III of the form, state that the reason for the amended return is that you did not receive a W-2 and you are making corrections to reflect new information you did not have before. If the information results in a higher tax bill, you’ll have to pay the difference; if the amended return lowers your tax liability, you will receive a refund.


About the Author

Based in the Kansas City area, Mike specializes in personal finance and business topics. He has been writing since 2009 and has been published by "Quicken," "TurboTax," and "The Motley Fool."

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