What Happens If My W-2 Is Incorrect?

by Victoria Lee Blackstone ; Updated March 15, 2018
Incorrect W-2s make it a challenge to file your taxes.

If your employer mails Form W-2 Wage and Tax Statement to its employees, you may be eagerly checking your mailbox as you await the arrival of your form, particularly if you’re anticipating a tax refund. Having a W-2 in hand puts you one step closer to filing your tax return and spending that refund. You may even be ready to sit down and prepare your tax return the day your W-2 arrives. However, if you realize that your employer entered incorrect information on your W-2, your mood may go from elation to frustration in a single breath. If your Form W-2 is incorrect, the remedy may be as close as a phone call away.

Call Your Employer

Acknowledging that W-2 mistakes happen may not console you when a W-2 error affects you personally, but if you immediately go to the source – your employer – the error may be a simple bump in the road toward filing your tax return. Your employer will void your W-2, and if he’s already sent a copy to the Social Security Administration, he’ll also issue a Form W-2c Corrected Wage and Tax Statement.

Call the IRS

Allow your employer time to correct your W-2, but if the error isn’t resolved by the end of February and you're still waiting for a corrected W-2, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. An IRS representative will speed up the process by contacting your employer and requesting the corrected W-2. It will save time and perhaps a second phone call if you have the following information in front of you when you call the IRS:

  • Your name, address, phone number and Social Security number
  • Your employer’s name, address and phone number
  • Your employer’s identification number (EIN), which is on the original W-2

Don't Miss the Filing Deadline

You don’t get a free pass to skip filing your return if you still haven’t received your corrected W-2 by the filing deadline even if you called the IRS to intervene on your behalf. Your phone call to the IRS should result in the representative sending you Form 4852 Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, but you can also download this form from IRS.gov. This is the form that you submit with your tax return in the absence of your correct W-2.

What to Do When You Receive a Corrected W-2

When you receive a corrected W-2, make sure all the information is indeed correct. If you've already filed your tax return and submitted Form 4852 with it, you'll need to correct any estimating errors you may have made by filing a corrected return. You can download this return – Form 1040X Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return – from IRS.gov.

About the Author

Victoria Lee Blackstone is a horticulturist and a professional writer who has authored research-based scientific/technical papers, horticultural articles, and magazine and newspaper articles. After studying botany and microbiology at Clemson University, Blackstone was hired as a University of Georgia Master Gardener Coordinator. She is also a former mortgage acquisition specialist for Freddie Mac in Atlanta, GA.

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