When you work and are considered an employee of a company, as opposed to an independent contractor, in January of each year you will receive a W-2 form from your employer. The W-2 form contains the information you need to file your taxes and must be included with your return if you file on paper. If you lose your W-2 form, you can request a copy from your employer who is legally required to fulfill that request.
Understanding the W-2
A W-2 form is issued to you by your employer so you have the information you need to file your taxes. This information is also filed with the IRS. To verify your income, the IRS needs your employer's Tax ID number, which is on your W-2, as well as the legal name of your employer and his legal address. It also includes your gross wages, taxes you have paid, bonuses and commissions you received and the dollar value of fringe benefits, such as use of a company car.
Employer Sends to the Address on Record
Your employer must send you copies B, C and 2 by January 31 of the year following the tax year the W-2 represents. It must be sent to the address on record with your employer, so be sure you notify your employer if you move. If you correct your address with your employer, he must reissue it to the new address with the words REISSUED STATEMENT on it. If your employment ends before December 31, you can request a copy of the W-2 and your employer must furnish it to you within 30 days of your termination or receipt of your last paycheck, whichever is later. If your W-2 is returned as undeliverable, your employer must retain your W-2 for four years unless it can be reproduced electronically through April 15th of the fourth year.
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A Replacement Might Cost You
If your employer issued your W-2, sent it to the correct address and it contained no errors, then he has performed his duties in accordance with IRS regulations. If you subsequently lost your W-2 statement, your employer must reissue it. The reissued W-2 will have the words REISSUED STATEMENT on it. The IRS does not prohibit your employer from charging you a fee to reproduce the document.
Penalties for Noncompliance
If your employer fails to send you a W-2 statement, he may be charged a penalty if he cannot demonstrate a reasonable cause for the failure. If important information, such as your taxpayer identification number or address are incorrect he may also be subject to a penalty. The penalty for failure to file on time is $50 per W-2 if you file correctly within 30 days of the filing due date; $100 per form if it is not filed by August 1, and $260 per form if it is not filed until after August 1 or at all. Correctly filing a W-2 includes mailing it to the employee on time.