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 filed federal income tax for year 2013 but forget to file state return.Cant find my w2 and employers say they can’t help me.irs can only give me federal not state info.state office say they don’t have it either.whst should I do because until I file my 2013 state return they are withholding my 2015 federal refund.

  2. Hi. I started a job back in November. My job automatically done one exemption, married. It’s just my husband & I, both of us work. When I get 80 hours, I make 634. No taxes are taken out. I don’t want to owe taxes. How do I claim on my w-4 form. And are exemptions and allowances the same thing or different. It can get confusing.

    1. The higher amount of allowances you claim will result in you being exempt from being taxed more. You can discuss with your employer on changing the number of allowances you would like to claim on your W-4, and the lower the value, the more taxes you will have end up being withheld from your payroll check throughout the year. The advantage of this is that you are more than likely due a refund at the end of the tax year for over payment of taxes rather than having a tax liability by the new tax season cycle.

  3. I cut grass in the neighborhood we stay. They pay me with cash, how can I file my taxes? I have a 12 year old daughter that im claiming so I should get money back def want to file

  4. My 20 yr old daughter and 22 yr old son in law just moved in with me. They immediately completed change of addresses in the middle of January. She has hasn’t received her 3 W-2s yet. He is missing his also. I am a USPS employee and am certain the change of addresses were filled out correctly. They do not have paystubs or any experience in this matter. Please HELP!!

  5. I’m trying to help my sister in law file her taxes, but she worked at a strip club all year and they don’t give w-2’s. So how should I go about helping her do her taxes?

    1. If your sister was paid on a W-2 income statement, but never received it from her employer, she can request a transcript of her wages from the IRS here in order to prepare her tax return.

      If your sister’s employer does not pay their employees on W-2 income statements, but instead pays in cash or on a 1099-MISC, then your sister can report her self employment income to the IRS on a Schedule C. Rapidtax expertly handles W-2 income and Self employment business income. Click here to get started today.

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