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W-2 tax forms should be mailed to you or delivered electronically before January 31st. A W-2 that was mailed may take a few days to make it to your mailbox, but if you still haven’t received it after the first week of February, there are four steps to take so you can begin filing your taxes.

Contact Your Employer’s Human Resources Department

While it doesn’t happen often, W-2 forms can sometimes be sent out to the wrong address. Contact your employer’s human resources department to ensure they have your correct address on file. If not, allow a reasonable amount of time for them to resend the form.

If, however, the days roll by and your W-2 form is indeed lost or your employer hasn’t yet issued a replacement, or you worked for a company that went out of business and there’s no one to contact from the company, then what?

Contact the IRS

If you haven’t been able to reach your employer, you can reach out to the IRS for help with retrieving your W-2 form. First, locate a recent pay stub as the IRS will request the information shown here:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Social security number
  • Phone number
  • Employer’s name
  • Employer’s phone number
  • Employer’s address
  • Employer identification number (EIN)
  • Wage estimation
  • Federal income tax withheld

Armed with this information, call the IRS at (800) 829-1040 for help in obtaining the missing form. From here, the IRS will contact your employer for you. They will request the missing or corrected W-2 and make the employer aware of any fines or penalties they may be facing. You will receive a Form 4852 from the IRS which is a substitute for the W-2 form.

File Your Taxes in a Timely Manner

You’re still required to file your taxes even if your employer didn’t provide you with the correct forms. If your employer doesn’t send you a replacement W-2 by April 18th, you can request an extension then file your taxes using Form 4852.

Note: There could be a delay in your tax refund while the IRS verifies the information on the form.

If you get your official W-2 after filing with Form 4852 and its information is different from what you reported on your tax return, you will need to refile. Do this by completing Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Download Form 4852 Online

If you can’t get in touch with the IRS, or if you’d rather complete the process manually, you can download Form 4852 yourself.

Form 4852 is a one-page form and contains instructions that walk you through the W-2 recreation process. You will need to explain how you got the information you entered, such as wages, which will generally be obtained from old check stubs. You will also need to clarify your efforts in regards to obtaining your missing Form W-2.

After you complete Form 4852, simply attach it to your tax return. A copy of Form 4852 also should suffice for your state taxes.

In cases where an employer has gone out of business or filed for bankruptcy, the IRS will request you send a copy of Form 4852 to your local Social Security Administration office. This will help you get proper credit for the Social Security and Medicare taxes you’ve paid throughout the previous year so that your tax refund will be correct.