If you are missing or have not received your W-2, you’ll need to try to get it as soon as possible, or take other steps required by law, in order to file your income taxes.
By law, all employers are required by January 31 to report employee income and employment taxes withheld from employees on the official Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return (Form 941).
Failure to report wages can result in criminal and civil sanctions outlined by the IRS. And as an employee, you have a right to report the issue to the IRS.
Tax evasion is a serious crime and you will still be personally responsible for paying taxes on wages you earned over the tax year – even if your employer fails to report those wages to the IRS.
But here are some tips on what to do if your employer has not sent your W-2:
Request a W-2 As Soon as Possible
Some employers may simply forget to send an employee a W-2 but the organization may still have withheld employment taxes. Alternatively, an employer may have sent you the W-2 to a wrong address – or perhaps your old address if you’ve moved.
In either case, if your W-2 hasn’t arrived by Jan. 31, you will simply need to request a W-2 be sent (or re-sent) to you and make sure that the numbers are accurate.
So start by contacting your employer’s accounting department immediately to ask for a W-2 be mailed or emailed to you. The amount on the W-2 will be the one you will be using to file your federal income tax return, so review all of your final pay stubs for the tax year to make sure the numbers match.
When to Notify the IRS
If your employer still hasn’t sent your W-2 by February 14, it’s time to notify the IRS about the situation.
Call the IRS for assistance at 800-829-1040. Be prepared to tell the IRS agent you speak to your name, contact information, and Social Security number. You will also have to advise the IRS of:
- Your employer’s name, address, city and state, including zip code and phone number
- Your dates of employment
- An estimate of your earnings and of federal income taxes withheld. (You can get an estimate from your last pay stub).
After you notify the IRS about your missing W-2, follow up with your employer and ask them – yet again – to send your W-2 form. Then, hopefully, you should receive it in a week or so.
What to Do When Your W-2 is Still Missing
In some circumstances, unfortunately, employers may be totally negligent in sending your W-2.
According to the IRS, even if you do not receive your W-2, you are still required to file your tax return or request an extension to file by the April 15 tax deadline.
So if you haven’t received your missing W-2 by the April 15 tax filing due date, and you’ve already contacted your employer and the IRS about it, you are allowed to use IRS Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement.
Just go ahead and attach Form 4852 to your federal income tax return, estimating your income and withholding taxes as accurately as possible. Unfortunately, there may be a delay in any refund due to you, while the IRS verifies the information.
If your employer finally sends your missing W-2, but you receive it after you’ve filed your return using Form 4852, you’ll probably find that the income figures you initially submitted don’t match up with your W-2. If that’s the case, don’t panic.
You must simply Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.
File an Anonymous Report
Sometimes, it may be appropriate to take other steps when you are missing a W-2. You can file an anonymous report against your employer by mail, or online. Use IRS Form 39490A to report any type of suspected fraud activity.
You will need to provide as many details as possible about the situation, including your Social Security number, contact information for the employer, details about the violation, and an estimated amount of the payment that may have been unreported or underreported.
Don’t forget to include your contact information – particularly your home address – so that the IRS can follow up if necessary.
File an Official Report
If you think your employer has purposely failed to report your wages or you have requested a W-2 without any response, that’s another reason to report the issue to the IRS.
The IRS encourages employees who know that their employer is not reporting their income or withholding taxes to contact the IRS immediately to file an official report.
Again, you can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 and ask for instructions on reporting an employer. Take the time to review your pay stubs so you know how much actually went unreported.
If the IRS decides to investigate the incident further, you may need to provide proof of income. The IRS will need an accurate figure of how much you earned over the year, and you will need to confirm that all taxes have been paid.