Although filing for bankruptcy offers many companies relief from debt, it does not relieve them of the responsibility to provide Form 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.
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.
- IRS: Publication 17: Form W-2
- IRS: Missing Form W-2? IRS Can Help
- IRS: Form 4852, "Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement"
- IRS: Form 4868, "Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return"
- IRS: Form 1040X, "Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return"
- IRS: Telephone Assistance
Victoria Lee Blackstone was formerly with Freddie Mac’s mortgage acquisition department, where she funded multi-million-dollar loan pools for primary lending institutions, worked on a mortgage fraud task force and wrote the convertible ARM section of the company’s policies and procedures manual. Currently, Blackstone is a professional writer with expertise in the fields of mortgage, finance, budgeting and tax. She is the author of more than 2,000 published works for newspapers, magazines, online publications and individual clients.