When you work for a business that closes before the end of a calendar year, you must receive your final paycheck within the time frame specified in state employment laws. However, according to the Internal Revenue Service, your former employer has until Jan. 31 of the following year to send your annual W-2 wage and tax statement. While most employers comply with this requirement, help is available to get your W-2 when a former employer does not comply.
If your last place of employment has closed, it may be difficult to obtain a copy of your W-2. If you are unable to contact your previous employer, you can notify the IRS, who will try to contact the business and, in the event they cannot reach them, provide you with Form 4582 for your tax return .
Before the Business Closes
Get contact information from the business owner before the closing date, make sure the business has your contact information and save your final pay statement. If the business uses a third-party payroll service, find out if the payroll service company or the former owner will be issuing W-2 statements. All of this information is vital to ensuring you receive your W-2 on time. If the former owner does not instruct the payroll company to issue W-2s and you can't contact the owner, it will be difficult or impossible to get a status update for a missing W-2 statement.
Get Help From the IRS
Although a former employer must send W-2 statements by Jan. 31, the IRS won’t step in until after Feb. 14. If you do not receive a W-2 by this date and attempts to contact a former employer fail, contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. Once you provide the required information, the IRS will try to contact the employer and send you Form 4582, Substitute for Form W-2. If the IRS is unable to contact your former employer or you do not receive the form in time to file your income tax return by the due date, fill out Form 4582 and send it in with your tax return.
Gather Payroll Information
Before you contact the IRS for help, gather the information the IRS will need to assist you. This includes your name, Social Security number and contact information, as well as your former employer’s name, contact information and, if possible, employer identification number, which you can find on a previous year’s W-2. You’ll also need annual wages earned and the total federal income tax withholding amount, which you can find on your last pay statement. Finally, you’ll need the dates your employment began and ended.
About Form 4582
In addition to providing wage and federal income tax withholding information, you’ll need to include information about state income tax, local income tax (if applicable), Social Security and Medicare tax withholding. The form also requires that you explain previous attempts to get a missing W-2, such as contacting your former employer or the payroll service. If you haven’t saved your final pay statement, it’s best to wait as long as possible to file your return with Form 4582. Otherwise, you’ll need to estimate these amounts. If you receive a W-2 after filing and it differs from what you estimate, the IRS says you must also file an amended tax return.
Based in Green Bay, Wisc., Jackie Lohrey has been writing professionally since 2009. In addition to writing web content and training manuals for small business clients and nonprofit organizations, including ERA Realtors and the Bay Area Humane Society, Lohrey also works as a finance data analyst for a global business outsourcing company.