You know you’ll be getting a tax refund and you’d like to file your return, but you can’t do this until you get your W-2, or your annual wage statement. What do you do if your W-2 is lost?
Be a little patient and give yourself some time. It could be that your W-2 is not lost, but still in transit or still at your company’s payroll office. Although the Internal Revenue Service requires companies to send their earnings information by January 31st, many companies use the regular post to send their W-2s. Wait several days after January 31st, and your W-2 might come in the mail. You can also give your company’s payroll office a quick call and make sure that the payroll department mailed it to the right address. If they did and they just sent it out, you should be getting your W-2 soon. If they haven’t sent it out yet, you can pick up your W-2 in person.
However, if your employer did lose your form, or you worked for a company that went bankrupt with nobody to ask about where to get your W-2, don’t panic – this can be easily replaced.
First, look for your last pay stub. All the information in there—your wages, the Medicare and Social Security taxes paid, and any taxes withheld, or any 401(k) or pension contributions, will be needed to replace your W-2. Your pay stub should also show your employer’s information, the company’s name, address, and your employer’s identification number or EIN. The EIN isn’t necessary, but it will make things easier when the IRS processes your papers.
Now that you have this information, give the IRS a call at (800) 829-1040. The data you just gathered will be used to remind your company that you need a W-2 form. They will then send your company a special form that indicates that you did not get your W-2. This notice will also come with a Form 4852. If your employer fails to send you a replacement W-2, you can file your return using the Form 4852.
If you receive your W-2 after filing using the Form 4852, and the data is different from what you submitted during your return, you’ll have to re-file the form again. You can do this by filling out the Form 1040X Amended US.
You can also fill out a replacement W-2 statement yourself. The IRS website has a Form 4852 that you can download, as well as a page of clear instructions that will guide you throughout the W-2 process. You will also need to explain how you got the figures you entered as well as the steps you took to get a replacement W-2. If you are missing several W-2 forms, you will need a separate Form 4852 for each missing W-2.
In situations where your employer has ceased operations or filed for bankruptcy, you can send your Form 4852 to the nearest Social Security Administration Office. This will ensure that you get the right credit for all taxes you paid, so your checks will reflect the right amount when the time comes to collect these benefits.