Filing your income tax is a mandatory requirement for any US citizen earning the minimum income threshold for their age bracket. Even if you did not earn enough to necessitate filing your income tax, you may still wish to file for various reasons, such as obtaining a federal stimulus check.
The W-2 form is an important document for filing your income taxes, as it is your employer’s report of your annual wages and amount of taxes withheld from your paychecks. This form makes it much easier to calculate whether you owe taxes to the IRS, or if a refund on overpaid taxes is due to you.
In this article, we are going to share with you how you can obtain your W-2 form from a previous employer.
Check for your W-2 electronically
Many employers are now issuing Form W-2 electronically. If your employer has an online portal where you are able to access paycheck information, check to see if your W-2 form is available for download directly from the employer’s portal.
Your employer may also email you a link to download the W-2 form, but it may get sent to your spam folder, so check there as well.
Your employer may also send your W-2 electronically to the IRS, and tax software such as TurboTax can import your W-2 from the IRS and notify you.
Employer’s will not typically directly attach your W-2 to an email, for security reasons.
Ask your former employer
If your employer does not send electronic W-2 forms, and you have not received your W-2 form by paper mail, you will need to ask your employer directly.
You should first contact the payroll or HR department of your former employer. Your W-2 form may have been sent to the wrong physical address, and needs to be reissued to your correct address.
If you cannot get in touch with your former employer, or they are avoiding your calls, you may need to escalate the matter to the IRS.
The deadline for employers to send out W-2 forms is January 31st, so your former employer will have some explaining to do to the IRS if they have not issued your W-2 by the deadline.
However, the IRS recommends waiting until the end of February before getting the agency involved, as your W-2 may simply be lost in the mail or similar. Still, you may notify them if you wish that you are waiting for your W-2 form from your former employee, if it is nearing the deadline for employers to issue them.
If your former employer is a small business owner and does not know how to create W-2 forms, you can point them towards services such as FormPros, which allows the employer to easily generate W-2 forms.
Getting the IRS involved
If you are unable to obtain your W-2 from your employer and it is past the deadline, you will need to contact the IRS and report the employer.
- You must provide the IRS with the following information:
- Your name, address, SSN, and phone number.
- The employer’s name, address, tax ID, and phone number.
- The dates you worked for the employer.
- An estimate of your wages and federal income tax withheld, which can usually be found on your last pay stub.
The IRS will then contact the employer to request the missing form, and may also issue penalties to the employer for failing to issue W-2 forms by the deadline.
The IRS can levy penalties of up to $536,000 per year or $187,500 for small businesses, depending on the number of W-2 forms the employer failed to issue.