What Do I Do If I Lost My W2 & Records to File Income Taxes?

What Do I Do If I Lost My W2 & Records to File Income Taxes?
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If you lost your tax forms or other tax records, you’ll have to replace the missing documents with estimated amounts so that you can file your tax return. Fortunately, you’ll be able to replace your W-2 with little effort. To start the reclamation process for any lost tax records, first make a list of what you’re missing and then begin piecing everything together.


  • If you lost your W-2, your first step is to contact your employer to have another one reissued. In the event that you are unable to retrieve a new copy or your employer is unresponsive, you should contact the IRS directly to request their assistance. If you need to file taxes before you are reissued a copy, then you can use IRS Form 4852 to file.

Where To Get IRS Forms

The quickest way to replace your lost W-2 is to contact your employer and request a copy. If your employer fails to produce a copy, call the IRS at 800-829-1040, and a staff member will contact your employer on your behalf to request your W-2. If you don't receive the copy by the deadline to file your tax return, complete IRS Form 4852, "Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement," and attach it to your return. Estimate your wage and tax information as accurately as possible. You can always correct your return, if necessary, by filing Form 1040X, "Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return," when you receive your W-2.

How To Get a Copy of Your 1099 From the IRS

Your income may come from sources other than employer wages, such as dividends, unemployment compensation or Social Security benefits. These and other income sources are documented on the Form 1099 series, such as 1099-DIV (dividends), 1099-G (unemployment) and Form SSA-1099 (Social Security). If you lost your current year's 1099, then you will need to contact the issuers of these forms directly and request to be sent copies to verify the compensation you received. You can also contact the IRS directly by phone for further guidance if you cannot get in touch with the form's issuer.

Income Adjustment Documents

The IRS allows certain adjustments to income, which lower your taxes, so you'll want to make sure that you replace these lost tax records. For example, if you made IRA contributions, or if you paid mortgage interest, contact your IRA plan administrator or mortgage lender and request documentation of the money you paid.

Using Expense Records

You can lower your taxes even more if you include credits for IRS-allowable expenses, such as childcare costs and charitable contributions. Ask your childcare provider to provide you with copies of your payment for services, and ask charitable institutions to provide you with copies of your donations.

Choosing to File an Extension

If the tax records you have lost are substantial and you're faced with the time-consuming process of putting your document portfolio together again, you can request an extension of the filing deadline. From the IRS website, download Form 4868, "Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return." After you complete this form, you can print and mail a paper copy to the address listed on the form, or you can file the form electronically by following the directions in the form to access the IRS e-file program. Whether you mail or e-file this form, use the same deadline you'd use to file your tax return. Typically April 15 is the deadline, but the IRS allows for weekends and holidays; for example, the filing deadline for 2018 is April 18.