New Jersey lawyer focusing on special education law and employment law


Can the IRS Help Me Get My W2 Form?

Employers who pay employees $600.00 or more and withhold taxes are required to file a W-2 form. Employers are also required to send a copy of the W-2 form to all current and former employees who worked in the previous year.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires that employers provide a copy of the W-2 form to current and former employees by January 31 or have the envelope postmarked by January 31.

If you are a current or former employee and still haven’t received a W-2 form by the first week of February, what can you do?

W-2 forms are typically mailed. A common reason why an employee didn’t receive a W-2 form is because the employee moved. Perhaps the employee forgot to notify the employer of a change of address. Or perhaps the employer forgot to update the address book.

Sometimes, when the employer mails the W-2 form, it gets lost in the mail.

The very first step is to contact the employer and ask to verify your address and send another copy of the W-2 form. You may call the employer. It is better to contact the employer in writing, especially if you have moved or work for another business. Email may is acceptable, but Certified Mail might be best since you will have a receipt that the mail was delivered. In some situations, it may be appropriate to contact the employer’s accountant or attorney to request the W-2 form.

Some employers will ignore requests for W-2 forms and refuse to provide a copy of the W-2 form. Why would an employer do this? There could be a number of reasons, but here are two reasons:

1. The employer engaged in fraudulent tax evasion activities — perhaps the employer paid 1/2 of the employee’s wages in cash, failed to withhold the proper amounts, failed to report the cash payments, failed to pay the appropriate amount of taxes to the state and federal government, and/or falsified the employee’s pay stubs.

2. The employer claims that the employee was never an “employee,” but an “independent contractor.” Hence, a 1099 instead of a W-2 would be appropriate.

Only the second reason above is a legitimate reason for refusing to issue a W-2 form.

If you still haven’t received your W-2 form by February 15 or thereabouts, you should contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at (800) 829-1040. If you are hearing impaired and use a TTY, you may call 1-800-829-4059 (TDD).

When you contact the IRS, you must be ready to provide the following information:

  • Your name, address, city, state, zip code, and Social Security number;
  • Employer’s name, address, city, state, and zip code;
  • An estimate of the wages you earned, the federal tax withheld, and the period your worked for that employer.

The IRS will then contact the employer and direct the employer to file the W-2 form. The IRS will also warn the employer of penalties if the W-2 form is not sent.

If you still haven’t received your W-2 form within a reasonable period of time, you may need to use Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and tax Statement. Attach this Form to your tax return.

It is highly advisable to speak with a certified tax accountant for assistance in filling out Form 4852 and to estimate income and withheld taxes.

If you happen to receive the W-2 form after you file your tax return using Form 4852, and the information is different than what the W-2 form states, you may be required to amend your return by filing a Form 1040X. Again, it is advisable to speak with a certified tax accountant for assistance.

Filing tax returns are always a chore, but it must be done. Be honest. Follow up. Follow through.


IRS CIRCULAR 230 DISCLOSURE: Pursuant to requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, any tax advice contained in this article is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for purposes of avoiding penalties imposed under the United States Internal Revenue Code or promoting, marketing or recommending to another person any tax-related matter. Please contact a tax attorney or certified accountant if you wish to have formal written advice on this matter.


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