How to Request Your W-2 From Your Ex-Employer

by Victoria Lee Blackstone ; Updated March 15, 2018
The filing deadline for Federal Income Tax Returns in April 15.

If you’re playing the waiting game in January to receive a Form W-2, “Wage and Tax Statement” from your ex-employer, you may have to wait until February. The IRS gives employers a January 31 deadline by which they must furnish W-2s to their employees. But if you don’t have your W-2 by the end of the first week in February, it’s time to contact your ex-employer and request it.

Where is My W-2?

There are many reasons why you might not receive a W-2, including administrative glitches and simple oversights. It’s also possible that you may have moved since your job ended with your former employer. If you didn’t have your mail forwarded by submitting a change-of-address form at your local U.S. Post Office branch, your W-2 may have been returned to your ex-employer. Even if you did have your mail forwarded, your W-2 may have gotten lost, which means your ex-employer doesn’t know you didn’t receive it.

Contact Your Ex-Employer

Sometimes, making a simple phone call is all you need to do to get your W-2 form from your ex-employer. This is a good time to confirm that your correct mailing address is on file before the company sends the form to you again. You can also ask if you can pick up a copy of your W-2 to save your ex-employer time and money in mailing it to you.

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My Ex-Employer is No Longer in Business

Your ex-employer may be an “ex” because the company is no longer in business. If that’s the case, or if you have not received your W-2 for any other reason, contact the IRS directly. The IRS suggests waiting until February 15 before you call, at which an IRS staffer will contact your ex-employer on your behalf.

Contacting the IRS

After February 15, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. You'll need to give them this information:

  • Your name, address, phone number and Social Security Number
  • Your former employer’s name, address and phone number
  • Your dates of employment
  • Your estimated yearly tax that was withheld, which you’ll see on your final pay stub

Don't Miss the Filing Deadline

If you have not received your W-2 before the tax filing deadline, you’re still required to file your tax return. You can estimate your wage information from the missing W-2 by completing Form 4852, “Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement.” Use your last pay stub as a best-guess estimate of your wage information, and attach this form to your tax return. If you want to file an extension, which gives you time beyond the filing deadline to file your tax return, submit Form 4868, “Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.” You can download both of these forms at 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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