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What to do if you don't get your W-2

If your wage statement gets waylaid, here's a substitute the IRS will accept.

By MSN Money producer Jan 28, 2014 5:18PM

By Kay Bell,  


You're still waiting for your W-2. You know you're getting a refund and you want to file your return, but it's something you can't do until you receive your annual wage statement.


TWoman with paperwork © Comstock Select/Corbishe Internal Revenue Service requires employers to get workers their earnings information by the end of each January, so allow a few days after the 31st for it to show up.


But if your Form W-2 never arrives, you can create your own for tax-filing purposes. Here's the information you'll need:


  • Year's wages.
  •  Payroll taxes withheld.
  •  Federal and state income taxes withheld.
  • Contributions to your company retirement/401k plan.
  •  Employer's tax identification number.


Check with payroll 

Before you start work on a replacement W-2, call your company's payroll office. Make sure the payroll administrator has your correct address. If he or she does and the form was just dropped into the mail, you should have it soon.


If it hasn't been sent out yet, you might be able to walk down to the office and pick up your copy in person.


If, however, the days roll by and the form is indeed lost or your employer is inordinately slow in issuing a replacement, or you worked for a company that went out of business and there's no one to bug about getting a W-2, what then?


Don't panic. You can recreate your W-2 on an IRS form and file that instead with your return.


Alert the IRS 

First, find your last pay stub. You'll need the information shown there -- wages, Social Security and Medicare taxes paid, federal and, if applicable, state and local taxes withheld, any pension or 401k contributions -- to recreate your missing W-2.


The stub also should show the employer information: company name, address and possibly the employer identification number, or EIN. If the EIN isn't on a pay stub and you received a W-2 from the errant employer in prior years, the tax number will be on the old statements. You don't have to have the EIN, but it will help when the IRS processes your return.


Armed with this information, call the IRS at (800) 829-1040 for help in obtaining the missing form. The IRS will use the employment data you gathered -- along with your personal information, such as your Social Security number and dates of employment -- to remind your boss that you need a substitute W-2. 

Form 4852 

The IRS will send your boss a special form noting that you did not receive your W-2. You'll get a copy of that notice along with a Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. If, even after nudging from the IRS, your employer doesn't send you a replacement W-2 in time for you to file your tax return, you may file using Form 4852 in place of your missing wage statement.


 If you get your official W-2 after filing with the substitute form and its data is different from what you reported on your return, you need to refile. Do this by completing Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.


Do-it-yourself W-2 

If you can't get through to the IRS, you can download Form 4852 from Bankrate's site or the IRS website and fill out the replacement wage statement yourself.


This one-page form, plus a page of instructions, walks you through the W-2 re-creation process. You'll also have to explain how you got the numbers you entered -- generally from old paychecks -- and describe the efforts you made to obtain your missing W-2. If you're missing multiple W-2s, you'll need a separate Form 4852 for each.


After you complete the form, attach it to your tax return in place of your absent W-2. A copy of Form 4852 also should satisfy your state tax collector for those returns. Be aware, though, that using Form 4852 instead of an original W-2 may delay your refund while the IRS verifies the information you provided.


And in cases where an employer has filed for bankruptcy or ceased operations, the IRS suggests you send a copy of Form 4852 to your local Social Security Administration office. The agency's office locator can help you find the one nearest you. This should ensure that you get proper credit for the Social Security and Medicare taxes you paid so that your checks will be correct when it comes time to collect these benefits.

More from


Jan 29, 2014 11:15AM
The first thing you can do is not loan the government your money to use interest-free throughout the year. If you want a windfall in the Spring then open a savings account and put the money in there and take it out in the Spring. Then have your employer take the right amount of taxes out of your paycheck. Your refund or what you owe should be minimal.
Jan 29, 2014 8:53AM
If you are filing electronically you probably don't even need the W2, as long as you have your final pay statement.
Jan 29, 2014 8:19AM

"The Internal Revenue Service requires employers to get workers their earnings information by the end of each January, so allow a few days after the 31st for it to show up."   

That's a bunch of crap. I had unemployment from the state of Indiana and they sent me nothing. I couldn't find out how much I was paid or how much taxes was taken out and the IRS said that it was my responsibility, I ended up paying over $500. So don't believe this. GET YOUR W2. Otherwise you'll pay later like me.

Jan 29, 2014 8:23AM
Call the payroll clerk and have her print another one.
Jan 29, 2014 11:57AM
I get all my paystubs and W-2s online.
Feb 1, 2014 6:40PM
The only thing necessary are good paying jobs and health. Everything else is easily replaced.
Feb 1, 2014 10:24AM
Nice thing when you retire is that you no longer belong to the IRS and have to file taxes ever again.
Providing some people can retire today still. I was one of the lucky one's. I still claim my American Citizenship, but you can live better on the dollar in Mexico where our home is now. No taxes there either for us. Just a good living and lower cost factors all around. Drink the drink my friend.....

Jan 29, 2014 1:30PM
What to do with no W-2? Stay home and ****.
Jan 28, 2014 9:48PM
Smile and go get your food stamps and monthly check, then head on down to your local 4 way stop with your sign and get the heavy lunch crowd.
Feb 1, 2014 9:09AM
You will get audited, this a red flag.

Only on MSN would an article this moronic appear!   Beam me up Scotty!


Sep 9, 2014 8:06AM
Very useful information you've got here. I personally experienced this and have to look for another way to get another copy of the form. I found a blank copy through and the best thing about it is that I was able fill it out online using their service, here's the link beautiful service with many advanced features such as e fax subscription, digital signatures, unlimited secure online document storage, customizable templates, PDF converter, a library of 10 million tax and legal forms, and much more. They also have iPad, iPhone and android application with full functionality. They provide technical support 24/7 and the best part is the 100% money back guarantee. All you have to do is ask the support team. You can avail the software for free if you invite a couple of friends to try it out using this link
Jan 28, 2014 7:35PM
everyone should pay for taxes on the essentials....key word.., roads, state taxes that keep you save and protected..not 1000 children tax breaks because you popped out too many you cant afford ...
Feb 1, 2014 10:10AM

1.      The IRS is a PRIVATE COMPANY based in PUERTO RICO and is NOT licensed to do business in the states.

It is merely a Collection agency for another Private Company – the IMF.

They hide behind three curtains, the IRS, The Treasury, and the Federal Reserve PRIVATE BANK.

The Federal Reserve PRIVATE BANK controls our treasury, and the FED is the IMF’s

Do you have an adhesion contract with this Private Company called the IRS?

Where is the law that says a person cannot have a private two-party contract?

Why does the Federal Reserve Note (an IOU) say for all debts PUBLIC and PRIVATE ?
(Because under the 4th amendment, I have a right to privacy)

The 16th amendment was never ratified by 2/3 of Congress or the States.

The 16th Amendement was established during martial law and under emergency powers, under the stewardship of a PRIVATE COMPANY acting as a legitimate Government “For the People, By the People”.

Income tax began in America in 1913 due to the Contract (Federal Reserve act) with the PRIVATE BANK.

The Corporation and all their “Agencies” (Private Companies) were created by the TRUSTEES (Public Servants)

They are Liable for ALL DEBTS owed to the IMF.


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