How to Create a W2 From a Pay Stub

How to Create a W2 From a Pay Stub
••• tax forms image by Chad McDermott from

If you are missing a W2 and it's preventing you from filing your tax return, you can create a W2 from one of your pay stubs. As long as you have the right form and follow directions, that missing W2 can be replicated. There are several reasons why you might need to file a substitute W2. For example, you may have misplaced your W2, or perhaps your employer did not send to you. In some cases, your employer is not required to send you a W2. Also, you may have received your W2, only to find that the information provided was not accurate. In any of these scenarios, there are steps you can take to ensure that you can create W2 forms using your pay stub.


  • In order to create a W-2 using a pay stub, you will first need to ensure that you are using a pay stub which includes as much of your December earnings as possible. This information, combined with IRS Form 4852, will allow you to file your tax return successfully.

Claiming Your W2

First, get in touch with your employer. According to the IRS, employers have until January 31 to send out W2s. However, if it's the middle of February and you still don't have your W2, call your employer and ask if the W2s were mailed and if so, when. If the employer responds that W2s have been mailed and you still don't have yours, ask for a duplicate W2, or prepare to file a substitute form.

Creating Your W2 Using a Pay Stub

Find your pay stub that includes as much of December as possible. Don't use a pay stub that has hours from January included, as it won't have the all the necessary information. The most important thing you need from the pay stub is the year-to-date information. Using the pay stub closest to the end of the year means the year-to-date numbers are the closest to the amount that would show on your W2.

The form used to file a substitute W2 is Form 4852, which can be downloaded from the IRS website. It is also included with most tax preparation software. The form asks for the following: general information, including your full name, your address and your Social Security number; wages, tips and other compensation using the year-to-date information on your pay stub; taxes that have been withheld, including federal tax, Social Security, Medicare tax, state tax and local tax. You will also need to provide an explanation on how you determined the amounts listed previously. You should plan on including a statement regarding how you calculated the amounts you reported above. For example, you could say, "I used the year-to-date information found on my last pay stub for December."

You should also provide an explanation of your attempts to get a duplicate W2 Form 2017 or 2018 edition: Let the IRS know you tried to get a duplicate W2 before you filled out this form. A statement such as, "I called my employer to report that I was missing a W2," or "I called and requested a duplicate because I lost the original" should suffice.

Filing Form 4852 With Your Tax Return

Once you have completed your tax return, file the form just like you would an actual W2. If you mail your return, include the original with your tax return after making a copy. If you file electronically, keep the form in your records and file an electronic copy with your tax return. If you're using tax software, the form should be included in the software. You can also use one of several W2 generators available to help facilitate this process.