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. ok i work for coca cola and they some how made a mistake i always get my w2 on line but this year it locked me out and wont let mr print a w2 form company says they wont mail it to you if you got yours last year threw what can i do the im stuck,i recently went threw the web where i view my paystub and i downloaded a paystub but its not a paystub it shows you what i made last year and taxes and so on can i file with this paystub ?

  2. I didnt get to file my taxes last year cause I moved alot so my w2s got lost going to old addresses etc and I dont have pay stubs so how would I go about getting my tax return from last year or can i even do that

  3. I was employed for 2 months back in 2016. I did not get any pay stubs and employer didn’t submit any W-2 to the IRS. I got paid through PayPal and no tax was withheld. How can I pay any taxes due? Could I submit 4852 and just report the net total I got over the 2 months and report 0 as tax withheld? Also, can I just submit this even if it’s for a previous year? Or should I make an amendment to my tax return for that year?

  4. What if you were only at your job for 4 weeks(1 month) and only received two pay checks? What if your employer did not report wages and you no longer have pay stubs for some reason? How can you fill out a form 4852 when you don’t know your wages at all? How is it still the responsibility of the former or current employee if their employer violates the law by not reporting wages? Kind of unfair. Everyone doesn’t keep up with pay stubs.

    1. I need to know this too. My employer has never given me a pay stub and will not give me one still. The IRS gave me a 4852 form but I have no idea how to fill it out.

  5. I have a question to ask. Is there away you can find out thru the IRS what was reported to them thru an former employer before you file taxes?

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