How to Obtain W-2 Forms If the Company Went Bankrupt

by Victoria Lee Blackstone ; Updated March 15, 2018

Although filing for bankruptcy offers many companies relief from debt, it does not relieve them of the responsibility to provide Forms W-2 “Wage and Tax Statement” to their employees. The IRS allows employers the entire month of January to issue W-2s to their employees, which means if you sit tight, you may still receive your W-2. If your former employer mails your W-2 on January 31, the last day of the issuing deadline, you should receive it during the first week of February. But if the day on your February calendar is closer to Valentine’s Day than Groundhog Day, it’s time to pick up the phone.

Try Calling Your Former Employer

Even though your company went bankrupt, it’s possible that they’re still open in a limited capacity as they navigate the bankruptcy process or transition into receivership. If it’s after February 15, try calling the company. If you're able to reach someone, ask for a copy of your W-2, which should have reached you during the first week of February if your company mailed it by the IRS deadline of January 31. You may be able to go to your former place of business and pick up a copy. If that doesn’t work, or if you cannot reach your former employer, it’s time to make another phone call – to the IRS.

Calling the IRS

The IRS will advocate for you by contacting your former employer and getting your W-2. Call the IRS at 800-829-1040, and a representative will ask you for identifying information, such as your dates of employment, your employer’s name, address and phone number (even if the company is no longer at the address or phone number), and your name, address, phone number and Social Security number. You’ll also need to give an estimate of the taxes that your employer withheld from your paychecks. Refer to your last pay stub to help estimate these figures.

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What About the Tax Filing Deadline?

If the deadline for filing your tax return is fast approaching and you haven't received your W-2, you still need to file a return or request a filing extension. Don’t miss the deadline just because you’re missing your W-2, or you could face a penalty. As a placeholder for your missing W-2, attach a copy of Form 4852 “Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement” to your tax return and estimate your wage and tax figures as closely as possible. If you’d rather request a filing extension, submit Form 4868 “Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return”. You can find both of these downloadable forms on the IRS website at IRS.gov.

Correcting Your Tax Return

When you receive your missing W-2, check its actual figures against the estimated numbers on Form 4852 that you submitted. If the numbers don’t match, you’ll need to file a corrected tax return. Download Form 1040X “Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return” from IRS.gov, and submit your corrected tax return.

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 columns. After studying botany and microbiology at Clemson University, Blackstone was 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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