Under federal and state regulations, employers have a legal duty to report an employee’s salary and wage information; this is true for each individual on the payroll. In most cases, this information is reported on a Form W-2. Employees have a right to receive a timely W-2 from their employer. Workers should receive this document for each tax year by January 31st of the following year. For example, you should receive your W-2 for 2018 by January 31st, 2019.
With a W-2, it is relatively easy for workers to complete their taxes. Not having a Form W-2 can make things more confusing for workers during tax prep. Missing forms can raise important questions: What happens if you don’t get your W-2? What if you do not file a W-2? What if you never got one or you lost it? Can you file your taxes without your W-2? Fortunately, even if you cannot get access to your W-2 form from an employer, you can still file your income taxes.
Tax Filing Requirements: Understanding W-2s
The Form W-2 is also known as the ‘Wage and Tax Statement’. Employers must provide one for each employee. At the end of every year, an employee gets one copy and the other copy is mailed to the Social Security Administration (SSA). A W-2 contains a wide range of useful details that are similar to the important information that is found on your check stub. This includes:
- Personal identifying details
- Salary information
- Taxes and deductions
If you have not received a W-2 from your employer and the annual deadline has already passed, you should ask them for a copy. It is possible that they have the wrong address on your personnel file or that the W-2 got lost for some other reason. It should be made clear that W-2s are only for employees, not for independent contractors. If you are an independent contractor, you will not get a W-2 form.
Can’t Get a W-2 From an Employer? No Problem: Use IRS Form 4852
To be clear, while you do need the proper forms to file your taxes — you should not simply send the IRS a copy of your pay stubs — you are not required to submit a W-2 form. The good news is that you can use your pay stubs to get the proper tax documents from the IRS even if you are having trouble getting an original or replacement W-2 form from your employer.
You may be in a situation where you simply cannot get a W-2 from an employer. This happens. You may be having a hard time making contact with the compliance department, the company may have gone out of business, or you may have lost the W-2 form with the tax deadline fast approaching. This does not have to be a major problem.
You can still file taxes without a W-2. At this point, you must complete and submit IRS Form 4852. This form is designed for employees who have not received the proper tax forms from their company. If you never received a W-2, you lost your W-2 and cannot get access to a second copy, or you received a W-2 that has incorrect financial information on it, you can use Form 4852 to file your taxes.
What If I Do Not File Taxes at All?
You are legally required to file taxes. The failure to do so could result in substantial financial penalties. Notably, if you are paid as a W-2 employee, there is a reasonably good chance that you are entitled to a tax refund. This always depends on your individual withholdings and your specific tax situation, but you may be able to get some money back in your tax return after you file your taxes.
The bottom line: File your taxes. If you do not have the right forms, you can make digital pay stubs instantly with our innovative software. Using these pay stubs, you can complete IRS Form 4852, which can be used as a substitute for a W-2.
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