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What to Do If a Past Employer Isn’t Sending You a W-2 Form

Dan Clarendon - Author
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Mar. 15 2022, Published 2:22 p.m. ET

By this point of the tax season, you should have received your W-2 forms from any employer that paid you at least $600 in wages last year. If not, we’re providing steps for getting W-2 forms from past employers below.

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Getting W-2s from your employers is important since these forms list how much money you earned in the past year — as well as taxes withheld, retirement contributions, employer healthcare contributions, and dependent care benefits. (The information below pertains to W-2s from the past year, but if you want W-2 forms from years prior, you can request a transcript from the IRS.)

W-2 forms should arrive by mid-February each year.

According to Indeed, the IRS requires employers to mail past and current employees W-2 forms for income for the relevant tax year by the end of January. So, you should receive W-2 forms no later than Feb. 14.

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If you’ve moved since ending your work for an employer, Indeed recommends submitting a change-of-address form at your local United States Postal Service office. The USPS typically takes seven to 10 days to process these forms and to start forwarding mail to your new address. If you haven’t submitted this form, it’s possible the W-2 from your former employer was sent to your old address and never forwarded to your new one.

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Also, check whether you’ve chosen to receive paperless tax statements or whether your former employer sends tax documents by email. If so, the W-2 from your former employer might be in your email inbox or even in your spam folder.

The IRS can help if your W-2 never shows up.

If you haven’t received a W-2 by mid-February, Jackson Hewitt Tax Service recommends additional steps to take. For starters, contact the HR department at your former employer — or even your former supervisor, if it’s a company without a human resources division — to make sure that they have your correct address on file and that they’re sending the document.

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If that doesn’t work, contact the IRS. You’ll provide the agency with your name, contact information, and Social Security number. You’ll also provide the name, EIN (Employer Identification Number), and contact information for your former employer, as well as your dates of employment and an estimate of wages and federal income tax withheld for the tax year (which are listed on your final pay stub from that employer). You can call the IRS at 800-829-1040 or visit a IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center.

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If you’ve followed the above steps and you still don’t have a W-2 in time to file your tax return by the deadline, you can request an extension on the deadline by submitting Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

If you don’t expect to receive a W-2 from a former employer — for example, if your former employer has gone out of business — you can use Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. You’ll file this form as part of your tax form, using information from your last pay stub from your former employer.

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