How to Retrieve Previous W-2 Statements

by Denisa Gipson ; Updated July 27, 2017
The IRS and past employers are both good sources for obtaining previous W-2 forms.

A W-2 statement is a form that employees receive at the end of each year showing how much money they earned, and how much they paid in taxes and had withheld for savings plans. These are needed in order to file your taxes for the previous year. Typically, an employer sends these out in January.

Step 1

Go online to the IRS website (www.IRS.gov.) You can fill out a form to obtain W-2 information or your tax return for the years you need.

Step 2

Search the IRS website to get the form. You have 2 different forms to choose from. The first form, searchable by "Form 4506-T", gives W-2 information only. It is not the actual W-2, as the IRS does not keep separate copies of W-2s. This option is free.

The second form, searchable by "Form 4506", is your entire return for whichever year(s) you choose. This contains your W-2, however there is a fee associated for each previous year that you want to obtain.

Step 3

Print the form and follow the instructions on how to fill it out. The general instruction sheet included with the form tells you where to mail the form. Allow at least 60 days for the IRS to process your request.

Tips

  • If you need the W-2 statements sooner, try contacting your past employers. They should keep them on file, as long as it hasn't been more than 10 years.

Warnings

  • Be sure you are mailing the form to the correct office. If you do not, your application could be delayed even further.

About the Author

Denisa Gipson is a writer from Northwest Indiana who has been writing professionally since 2009. She specializes in how-to articles, and her interests range from parenting to pets. She has written articles for eHow and Answerbag. She holds a Bachelor of Science in computer science from Davenport University.

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