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How to Get Your W-2 from a Previous Employer

Last updated 03/19/2024 by

Jamela Adam

Edited by

Fact checked by

If you’ve worked for somebody in the past, you may have received a W-2 from them. This form shows how much money you’ve made working for that company and the federal income tax withheld from your paychecks. If you’ve changed jobs in the past year, you still need to get a W-2 from your former employer to avoid a tax penalty from the IRS.
It can be a hassle to get your W-2 from a previous boss to file taxes. You may have to jump through a few hoops or make a few phone calls in order to get your wage and tax statement. However, it’s definitely worth it in the end, because you can rest assured that your taxes are filed correctly.
This article will guide you through some steps you can take to obtain your W-2 statement from your previous employer in a timely fashion.

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Why do you need to get a W-2 from your former employer?

Most people know they need to get a W-2 from their former employer, but many don’t know why. The W-2 is a form that employers must send to employees each year. It reports the employee’s annual income and the amount of social security and Medicare taxes withheld from his or her paychecks. This is in addition to reporting what health insurance and dependent care benefits your ex-employer set aside.
It also helps you determine whether you owe additional money to the Internal Revenue Service, or if you deserve a tax refund. Without a W-2 form, you could end up with an inaccurate tax return this tax year and may have to pay penalties.

Pro Tip

If you don’t file your tax return because you didn’t get a W-2, you’ll likely be hit with a penalty. The good news is there are tax relief programs, such as the first time penalty abatement program that can help in some cases.

Is it illegal to file taxes without a W-2 tax statement?

It’s not illegal to file your taxes without a W-2. In fact, the IRS has created some fairly simple methods for calculating taxes without a W-2. One such method is Form 4852, which allows you to estimate your income and tax withholding using your final pay stub.
Form 4852

What happens if your employer doesn’t send a W-2?

You can also file an extension request with the IRS through Form 4868 (application for an automatic extension of time to file your individual income tax return). This gives you an additional six months to file your return, which can be helpful if you’re still waiting on your W-2 statement.

Tips on how to get a W-2 from your previous employer

Is there a way to get your W-2 from your ex-employer? Yes, and it’s not as hard as you think. Here are some tips to help you receive your W-2 form before the tax filing deadline.

Check your email first

The IRS requires that every company send W-2s to workers by January 31st each year. So if you’re expecting to get a W-2 from your previous company soon, first check your email. Some companies send emails to inform employees that their W-2s are ready in the employee portal.

Contact your employer

If your previous company has an HR department, make sure to call them during business hours and ask about your wage and tax statement. Confirm the physical address they have on file for delivery just in case there might be a typo somewhere. If there is an error, you may need to request a change-of-address form.
However, if you’re not able to reach a human resources representative, try touching base with your previous manager either through email, phone, or even LinkedIn. He or she might be able to direct you to the person in charge. If all else fails, visit your previous workplace in person.
Whatever method you choose, make sure to be polite and professional, because they’re probably busy with a lot of other inquiries as well.

Email the third-party payroll administrator

If you have not received your W-2 statement by the end of January, it is likely because there is a wrong address on file at the third-party payroll administrator. You can correct this by contacting the third-party payroll company to provide them with your correct mailing address.

Get in touch with the IRS

If you’ve already tried the above-mentioned methods without luck, your best bet is to contact the IRS directly. Call the IRS at 800-829-1040 and make sure you have the following information ready:
  • Name, address, Social Security Number, and phone number
  • Employer’s name, address, and phone number
  • Employment dates
  • Estimated wages and federal income tax withheld for the year (use your last pay stub for these amounts)

Pro Tip

If you receive your missing W-2 statement from your previous employer, you might need to correct your tax return. Check and see if the tax information on the W-2 is the same as what you reported to the IRS. If not, file an amended tax return using Form 1040-X to make necessary changes.
Form 1040-X

How do I get my W-2 without contacting my former employer?

There are a few things you can do. First, try contacting a third-party payroll company before trying to contact the IRS directly. Finally, if all else fails, you can order a copy of your W-2 from the Social Security Administration, but this is the most expensive option.

Key Takeaways

  • A W-2 statement is a form that employers send to you so that you can file your tax return properly. It has information about your pay, how much tax has been taken out of your paycheck, etc.
  • If you’ve switched jobs recently, it’s still important to get your W-2 from your last employer to avoid any tax penalties.
  • Check your email first to see if you’ve received a notice from your previous employer.
  • You can file without a W-2 using Form 4852 on the IRS website.
  • You can also file a tax extension through Form 4868 if you don’t receive your W-2 before the tax deadline.

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