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How to File Taxes Without a W-2

Last updated 03/21/2024 by

Erin Gobler

Edited by

Fact checked by

Your W-2 contains important information about your wages and withholdings from the past year, which you need to file your tax return. Though you should get this document shortly after January 31, this isn’t always the case. If you haven’t received your W-2 form by the deadline, there are ways to get a copy of your form or even file your tax return without it.
The start of a new year means many things, including the approach of tax season. You should start receiving tax forms from your employer, brokerage firm, and other sources during January and February, which you’ll use to file your tax return.
The IRS requires that employers provide W-2 forms to their employees by January 31, but you may find yourself in a situation where your form is late. Does this mean you can’t file your taxes this year? What happens if you owe money to the IRS? Fortunately, you have a few options available to get a copy of your W-2 form or file your individual income tax return without it.

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What to do if you haven’t received your W-2

If the first week of February has come and gone and you still haven’t received your W-2 form, you might start to wonder if it’s coming at all. Though returns aren’t due until April, don’t wait to find out where your W-2 is. Here are some steps you can take to get your form more quickly or find out why it’s been delayed.

Step 1: Check online

It’s now common for employers to upload their employees’ W-2 forms into their online payroll platform. A company will usually send an email to let you know that W-2s are available, but it’s worth checking to see if the form has been uploaded. The email may have ended up in your spam folder or not been delivered.

Step 2: Contact your employer

If you can’t find your W-2 form online, reach out to your employer’s human resources or payroll department to ask for an update. They’ll be able to let you know if the form has been mailed (who knows, it may have been lost in the mail or sent to an incorrect address).
They may also let you know that they’ve requested an extension from the IRS and that forms will be delayed.

Step 3: Contact the IRS

The IRS recommends waiting until the end of February to see if your W-2 form arrives in the mail. However, if you’ve already contacted your employer and February has come and gone, you can contact the IRS to let them know about your missing form.
You’ll have to provide your name and Social Security number, as well as the employer’s information. Once you do that, the IRS will reach out to the employer on your behalf about the missing W-2 form.

Step 4: Request an extension

Receiving your W-2 form late isn’t necessarily a problem, especially since tax returns aren’t due until mid-April. However, if tax day is close and you still haven’t received your form, you might be starting to worry. The good news is that the IRS offers extensions on your tax returns, allowing you to postpone filing until October.

Pro Tip

If you owe additional taxes, you still have to pay them by the April due date. You can use tax software to run the numbers and see whether you’ll owe. Unfortunately, if you owe and don’t pay by the deadline, you’ll be faced with interest and penalties.

Step 5: File without your W-2

If you don’t receive a W-2 from your employer in time to file your tax return, there’s a way to file without it. The IRS offers Form 4852 for situations like this.

How to file taxes without a W-2

If tax day is nearing and you haven’t received your W-2 yet, you can use the IRS’s form 4852. This form is intended to be used as a substitute for the W-2 Wage and Tax Statement.
Form 4852
To complete Form 4852, you’ll still need much of the information that would appear on your W-2 form, including your total wages and taxes withheld. You should be able to find this information on your final pay stub for the year.
Keep in mind that if you file with Form 4852 in lieu of a W-2 form, your return may also take longer to process. This is because the IRS must verify the tax information you provided.
IMPORTANT: If you filed your tax return with Form 4852 and discovered when your W-2 arrives that you made an error, it’s not too late to fix it. The IRS allows you to file an amended return with updated information.
If you have everything you need to file your taxes, don’t wait to get started. It’s always a good idea to begin (or finish) your taxes earlier rather than later. Not sure where to start? Take a look at some of the filing software below for guided steps on filing your income tax return.

SuperMoney may receive compensation from some or all of the companies featured, and the order of results are influenced by advertising bids, with exception for mortgage and home lending related products. Learn more

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What is a W-2?

IRS Form W-2, also known as the Wage and Tax Statement, is a tax form that employers must send to their employees each year. Employees then use these forms to file their income tax returns. Form W-2 includes the following information:
  • Your name, Social Security number, and address
  • Employer’s name, identification number, and address
  • Your annual wages for the previous tax year
  • The amount of taxes withheld for income taxes, Social Security, and Medicaid
  • Information about your benefits, including health insurance and retirement contributions

How much tax do I pay on my W-2?

The amount of taxes you’ll pay on your W-2 income depends on which tax bracket you fall into. The United States has marginal tax rates, meaning you’ll pay a rate on each section of your income that corresponds to the tax bracket it falls into. Income tax rates range from 10% to 37%.

Who receives a W-2?

The IRS requires that all employees who were paid at least $600 (including non-cash payments) the previous year receive a W-2 form. And if you had more than one job in a year, you will likely receive multiple W-2 forms.
It’s important to note that contractors don’t receive this tax form. If you worked as an independent contractor, then any business that paid you at least $600 will send you Form-1099. Whereas income on a W-2 form reports any federal income tax withheld, income recorded on a 1099 form usually does not include this information. However, there are situations where a company may have to withhold taxes from 1099 contractors, such as when they don’t provide a tax identification number (TIN).

When will I receive my W-2?

The IRS requires that all employers provide W-2s to their employees by January 31. That deadline doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll receive your form by that date — it’s simply when employers have to put the form in the mail. If you’re receiving an electronic copy of your form, you should have it by January 31. But if you’re receiving it in the mail, it may take a few extra days.
The IRS allows employers to request an extension of time to furnish their W-2 forms. If they do, they’ll have an additional 15-30 days to provide these forms to their employees.

Where do I get my W-2 for taxes?

In most cases, your employer should provide your W-2 form either online, in person, or through the mail. If they don’t provide your form by the deadline, you can reach out to your company’s payroll or human resources department for more information.

How can I get a copy of my W-2 if I lost it?

If you lost your W-2 form, you can contact your employer to get another copy, and they’ll most likely be able to provide it. If for some reason your employer can’t provide it, you can contact the IRS or Social Security Administration to see if they can provide a copy.

Key Takeaways

  • IRS Form W-2 is the form employers use to report their employee wage and tax withholding information for the year.
  • As an employee, your employer is required to have your W-2 form in the mail by January 31, but they have the option of filing for an extension.
  • If you haven’t received your W-2 form after the first week of February, consider checking your online payroll portal, contacting your employer, contacting the IRS, or simply filing your tax return without it.
  • You can file your tax return without a W-2 by using Form 4852, which is a substitute for the wage and tax statement.

File your taxes with the right software

It can be frustrating to wait on an employer to send your W-2, especially if the form is late and the tax deadline is coming up. However, that doesn’t mean you’re stuck for good.
If you’re getting ready to file your tax return and still need the right tool, we can help. Visit our tax preparation comparison tool to see your options and find the right tax software for you.

SuperMoney may receive compensation from some or all of the companies featured, and the order of results are influenced by advertising bids, with exception for mortgage and home lending related products. Learn more

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Erin Gobler

Erin Gobler is a Wisconsin-based personal finance writer with experience writing about mortgages, investing, taxes, personal loans, and insurance. Her work has been published in major outlets, such as SuperMoney, Fox Business, and

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