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missing w-2 incorrect w-2 form

It’s that time of year again when employers are scrambling to get W-2 forms out to employees.  And employees are stressing about when they will receive their W-2 so they can get a head start on filing their 2011 taxes.  For those of you that haven’t received your Form W-2 yet or if the W-2 you received has incorrect information on it, there are steps you can take to get this document.  If your employer has gone out of business or went bankrupt, you can follow these same steps so you can file your tax return on time using Form 4852 as a substitute for your missing W-2 form.

Employers have until January 31, 2012 to send you a 2011 Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement.  If an employer is mailing W-2s to employees, they must be postmarked by January 31st and may take a week or two to arrive.  The IRS recommends that you wait two weeks for your W-2 to arrive in the mail.  If you moved in 2011, make sure you notified your employer’s human resource or payroll department so they have your correct address on file.

4 Steps to Take If You Haven’t Received Your W-2 Form
If you haven’t received your W-2 by mid-February or if you need to request a corrected W-2, follow these four steps so you can make sure you file your taxes on time. 

1. Contact Your Employer’s Human Resource or Payroll Department:  If you have not received your W-2 or if you need to have information corrected on your form, first contact your employer’s human resource or payroll department.  If you haven’t received your W-2 and it was mailed, it may have been returned to the employer because of an incorrect or incomplete address.  Make sure your employer has the correct mailing address for you on file.  After contacting the employer, allow a reasonable amount of time for them to resend or re-issue the Form W-2.

2. Contact the IRS:  If you do not receive your original or corrected W-2 by mid-February and you have already contacted your employer, you can call the IRS for help at 800-829-1040.  You can also visit an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC).  An IRS representative will initiate a Form W-2 complaint on your behalf.  When you call or visit the IRS, make sure you have a recent pay statement handy so you can provide them with the following information:

  • Your name, address, city and state, including zip code, Social Security number and phone number.
  • Your employer’s name, address, city and state, including zip code, phone number and employer identification number (EIN).  Your employer’s EIN would be on your prior year’s W-2 if you worked for them in previous years.
  • An estimate of the wages you earned, the Federal income tax withheld, and when you worked for that employer during 2011.  The estimate should be based on year-to-date information from your final pay statement or leave-and-earnings statement.

Based on the information you provide, the IRS will contact your employer for you. They will request the missing or corrected W-2 form and advise your employer of the penalties for failing to issue and file W-2s.  The IRS will also send you a Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2.  The purpose of Form 4852 is to serve as a substitute for Forms W-2, W-2c and 1099-R.  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 Tax Return on Time:  You still must file your tax return or request an extension to file by April 17, 2012 even if you do not receive your Form W-2.  If you have not received your Form W-2 by April 17th, and have completed steps 1 and 2, you may use Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement which the IRS sent you.  Form 4852 may be used if your employer does not provide you with an original or corrected Form W-2 in time to file your tax return.  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 W-2 after you filed your return using Form 4852, and the information may be different from what you reported on your tax 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.

NOTE: There is an updated version of this blog. Please click here to read.