As we enter tax season, anticipation rises from employees everywhere - "When am I going to get my W-2?" 

(Even the government shutdown won't stop these questions from coming!)

What is a Form W-2?

Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, shows the income and taxes withheld from an employee's pay for the year and is necessary to file your taxes.  Don't confuse this with a Form W-4. That's for individuals to complete for withholding purposes; a Form W-2 is for employers to complete.

Employees should receive a Form W-2 from each of their employers where they worked during 2018. 

Tired of handling Forms W-2 on your own?

PrimePay prepares Forms W-2 for all our clients.

Learn more

Employers have until Jan. 31, 2019 to send the 2018 Form W-2 earnings statement to their employees.  If an employer is mailing Forms W-2 to their employees, they must be postmarked by Jan. 31, so it may take a week or so to arrive. 

If you haven’t received your Form W-2 by mid-February, follow these four steps:

1. Contact your employer. 

If you have not received your Form W-2, contact your employer to inquire if and when the Form W-2 was mailed. If it was mailed, it may have been returned to the employer because of an incorrect or incomplete address. After contacting the employer, allow a reasonable amount of time for them to resend or to issue the W-2.

2. Contact the IRS.

If you do not receive your W-2 by the end of February and you have already contacted your employer, you can call the IRS for assistance at (800) 829-1040.  You can also visit an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC).  When you call or visit the IRS, you’ll need to provide the following information:

  • Your name, address, Social Security number, and phone number.
  • Your employer’s name, address, and phone number.
  • An estimate of wages and federal income tax withheld in 2018. Use a final pay stub for these amounts.

Based on the information you provide to the IRS, they will contact your employer for you, request the missing W-2 form and advise your employer of the penalties for failing to issue and file Form W-2. The IRS will also send you a Form 4852, a substitute for Form W-2. Form 4852 is completed by taxpayers when their employer does not give them a Form W-2 or when an employer has issued an incorrect Form W-2.

3. File your return. 

You still must file your tax return or request an extension to file by April 15, 2019 even if you do not receive your Form W-2.  If you have not received your Form W-2 by April 15, and have completed steps 1 and 2, you may use Form 4852  which the IRS sent you. Attach Form 4852 to the return, estimating income and withholding taxes as accurately as possible. There may be a delay in any refund due while the information is verified.

4. File a Form 1040X. 

On occasion, you may receive your missing Form W-2 after you filed your return using Form 4852, and the information may be different from what you reported on your return.  If this happens, you must amend your return by filing a Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.  The Instructions for Form 1040X may provide you with additional details and guidance if you need to file an amended tax return.

Let PrimePay Handle Your Forms W-2

Tired of handling Forms W-2 on your own? PrimePay prepares Forms W-2 for all our clients. We ship them directly to you to distribute. They are self-sealed so all you have to do is put on postage and mail them out, or hand them out if the employees are physically located there.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in 2011 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness. 
Disclaimer: Please note that this is not all inclusive. Our guidance is designed only to give general information on the issues actually covered. It is not intended to be a comprehensive summary of all laws which may be applicable to your situation, treat exhaustively the subjects covered, provide legal advice, or render a legal opinion. Consult your own legal advisor regarding specific application of the information to your own plan.