How to File Taxes without an IRS W-2 Form

You’re all prepared to start your tax return and then realize you’re missing a W-2. Now what?

There is little that is more vexing as you prepare to file your taxes than to realize that your W-2 or 1099 form has gone missing. Sure, it could have just been shuffled about with other papers. If you think this is the case, then stop reading now and go tackle that stack of paperwork on your desk.

On the other hand, if you never received it in the first place, even Spring cleaning can’t help you. Previous and even current employers often fail to observe due diligence when it comes to providing an employee with necessary tax documents. The task of obtaining them can be quite frustrating as a result.

The situation is usually made worse if you are filing a prior year tax return, at which point a company you worked for years ago may simply have ceased to exist.

Let’s take a look at the steps you can take to obtain your income statement. We’ll even let you know how to file without one altogether.

Contact your employer.

I know, I know. It’s easier said than done in some cases. This becomes less of a realistic option as time goes by and you’re trying to file a prior year return. However, if it is possible for you, this is the quickest and simplest way to go about obtaining your W-2 or other income statement.

Contact your employer’s payroll provider.

This is a good option if you just so happen to be a secondary contact for your employer’s payroll provider. For security purposes, this typically won’t be the easiest choice.

Contact the IRS.

As you may know, employers are required to submit W-2 forms to you and the IRS. If you lost your W-2 or believe that your employer only submitted income statements to the IRS, then this is another route you can take to obtain yours. However, if your employer didn’t submit income statements to the IRS at all, then keep reading.

Use Form 4852.

It’s assumed that you can’t file your taxes without a W-2 or other income statement. However, they are not absolutely necessary. You can file IRS Form 4852, which is a substitute for a W-2 or 1099-R, and use it to prepare your tax return. You will need to provide an acceptable estimate of your wages and tax withholding for the year. How in the world are you supposed to guess your income and withholding for the year? Take a look at your last pay stub. This will most likely have your ‘year-to-date’ information. Although this is the least confrontational method that we’ve discussed, it should really be your last resort as it could result in having to amend your return later on.

When in doubt, wait it out.

If you’re stressing about not receiving your W-2 and it’s not even February yet, be patient. Employers are required to issue W-2 forms by the end of January. Give it a few days before typing up your plan of action.



63 Replies to “How to File Taxes without an IRS W-2 Form”

  1. I can’t find my 2015 W2. I filed my Federal in 2015 but completely forgot to do the State. Contacted my employer and they cannot help me. I’ve asked multiple times and their answer is they cannot provide any employees that info. Also can’t provide me with a copy of my last paystub of 2015. Don’t understand that at all… I need to get this taken care of ASAP. What is my next best option?

    1. Hi Derek,

      Since you have previously received your W-2 form, you are in a better situation than most. In your case, you can be pretty sure that your employer has submitted the employee W-2 forms to the IRS. In that case, you can contact the IRS directly and they should be able to assist you with your W-2 information.

    2. Hi Derek,

      Since you have previously received your W-2 form, you are in a better situation than most. In your case, you can be pretty sure that your employer has submitted the employee W-2 forms to the IRS. In that case, you can contact the IRS directly and they should be able to assist you with your W-2 information.

  2. I submitted 3 previous years tax return with no 1099 just an estimate of my income. Will I still get a refund or will it be returned to me?

    1. Hi Donna,

      If you estimated your income amounts because you were supposed to receive a 1099 at the end of the year but didn’t then your first step would be to contact your employer or the IRS for transcripts. Each time a 1099 (or W-2) is prepared by an employer, a copy is submitted to the IRS as well. In your situation, if the amounts that you reported on your tax return are way off, then the IRS will be able to pick up on that and possibly reject your return. You will be contacted via mail if this happens. You can resubmit your tax returns with the exact amounts once you have received this information from either your employer or the IRS.

      1. I have worked for the last 3 years for my
        mothers small business I run errands and make minimal money p/t She does Does not have me as a employee because she only uses me in emergency and she always just wrote down the days times and amounts I had a child in 2008 and one in 2014 I just filed my taxes for myself in 2016 head of house with 2 dependents ( My childrenMy sons father We were not married ) passed away in 2014. My question is When i had someone do my taxes this year I only got 5093 and It was for my the thimgs I bought and sold . Now for 2014+2015 What are the thibgs I need to get the biggest refund child tax credit, additional tax credit, EITC, doctors expenses , babysitters ? What is the minini
        um amount I need to show I made to get all possible credits and how much are they? 2015 and 2014

      2. Pertaining to the credit that you receive from the IRS, this should only help assist you in the year with the income that you earn overall. The child tax credit, as well as your EIC credit, is dependent on how much you make in the year. Because you are single and head of household your threshold is $75,000 until your credit is reduced. For the EIC there are multiple brackets depending on your salary. For the additional child tax credit, the highest amount that you can claim per child is only up to $3,000 dollars.

  3. I did my taxes on Jan 30 checked on IRS were is my refund today Feb 16 says received but still not processed i got 10,000+ due to me have a house payment filed joint with wife when can i expect to get my refund .

  4. I filled out my information for a tax return and have two dependents for 2011,but its showing me an amount that I know can’t possibly be right. Will be going in to the office on Austin hey today to see if they can Neil me

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