How to File Taxes Without a W-2 Form

by W D Adkins ; Updated July 27, 2017
The IRS has a substitute if you don't have your W-2 form.

Most taxpayers need W-2 forms to prepare tax returns, but occasionally one goes missing. The Internal Revenue Service wants you to file your taxes on time anyway, so it has established guidelines to follow and a substitute form you can use.

Request Replacement W-2

If you or your spouse has not gotten a W-2 form by January 31, call the employer and ask for another copy. If you don’t get the replacement in a few weeks, contact the IRS at 800-829-1040. Give the IRS your name, Social Security number and contact information. Furnish the employer’s name, phone number and address. Make your best estimate of the wages you earned and payroll taxes withheld. Base the estimate on your final pay stub if you have it.

Use Form 4852

If April 15 is drawing near and there’s no sign of your missing W-2, complete Form 4852, “Substitute for Form W-2.” You can download the form on the IRS website. Enter your personal information and the employer’s name and contact information. Estimate earnings and taxes withheld by that employer. The IRS suggests using your last pay stub. There are spaces to describe what you did to obtain the missing W-2 and how you arrived at your earnings estimate. Prepare the rest of your tax return as you normally would. Attach the 4852 in place of the W-2. If the W-2 eventually shows up and there is a discrepancy, you can file an amended return.

About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, W D Adkins has been writing professionally since 2008. He writes about business, personal finance and careers. Adkins holds master's degrees in history and sociology from Georgia State University. He became a member of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2009.

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