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How to File Taxes Without a W-2 Ahead of January 31

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Dec. 29 2021, Published 11:19 a.m. ET

After the start of the new year, you might want to get a jump on filing your 2021 taxes, especially if you’re expecting to get a big return. However, employers have until Jan. 31 to get your W-2 to you. If you don’t want to wait, there are some things you should know about how to file taxes without a W-2.

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Filing your taxes without a W-2 is possible, but it might not speed up when you get your return. Usually, the IRS doesn’t start processing taxes until the end of January. For example, in 2021, the IRS didn’t start accepting and processing 2020 tax returns until Feb. 12.

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When does the official 2022 tax season start?

The IRS hasn’t announced when the official 2022 tax season starts, but some reports estimate that it will be anywhere from Jan. 15 to Jan. 25. So, you might want to wait until you get your W-2 from your employer to file your taxes.

Many employers allow employees to access their W-2 forms online, which helps speed up the process.

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What if you haven’t received your W-2 by Jan. 31?

If it’s after the Jan. 31 deadline and you still haven’t received your W-2, you should call your employer and let them know about the delay. The reason could be as simple as not having your correct address on file.

If your W-2 was misplaced or got lost in the mail, you can ask your employer for a copy.

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Don’t use your last paycheck to file your taxes.

Don’t file your taxes with your last paycheck. Your W-2 is a more accurate statement of your yearly income and tax withholdings. If you use your last paycheck instead of your W-2, you might eventually have to file an amended return.

When should you contact the IRS about a missing W-2?

If you haven’t received your W-2 or a copy of it by the end of February, you should call the IRS at (800) 829-1040 to get a substitute W-2. The IRS will need your:

  • Name, address, Social Security number, and phone number

  • Employer’s name, address, and phone number

  • Employment dates

  • An estimate of wages and federal income tax withheld in 2017—use a final pay stub for these amounts

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The IRS will use your information to send a letter to your employer on your behalf to obtain your W-2 form.

What happens if you never get your W-2?

After all of these steps have been attempted, if you still haven’t received your W-2, you can file your tax return using IRS Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage, and Tax Statement. On this form, you will need to estimate your wages and withheld taxes as best as you can.

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Source: IRS Twitter

What's the deadline to file 2021 taxes?

The deadline to file your 2021 taxes is April 18, 2022. If you can’t meet that deadline, you will have to file an extension with the IRS to get more time. You will need to file IRS Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File, or e-file a request for more time using IRS Free File.

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