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I Lost My W-2. Now What?

i lost my w-2. now what?

Filing your taxes can be challenging, especially if you are missing crucial documents like your W-2 form. A W-2 tax form shows important information about the income you’ve earned from your employer, how much taxes were withheld from your paycheck, benefits provided and other details for the year. You file your federal and state taxes with this form. But what happens if you lose your W-2? If you lose your W-2 form, don’t panic. Here are some options you have if you do not have your W-2 form when filing your taxes. 

Contact Your Employer 

If you lose your W-2, your first reaction should be to contact your employer to request a replacement. You will typically need to contact your Human Resources department to obtain a duplicate. This is also true if you are trying to obtain a W-2 for a previous year or for an employer you no longer work for. Employers are required to keep copies of W-2 forms for four years; however, some may keep them for longer. It’s important to be aware that some employers might charge you a fee for providing a copy of your W-2. You should contact your employer for a copy of your W-2 form if you did not receive one for the year at all. Employers are required by law to distribute W-2s by January 31st of each year. You should note that some employers distribute these forms electronically through email or an employee portal. If you haven’t received one by early February, you might want to contact your employer.  

Contact the IRS 

In some rare cases, your employer may not be able to help you obtain another copy of your W-2. In this case, you can contact the IRS for help. During your phone call, you’ll need to verify your identity by providing your name, address, phone number and Social Security number. You will also need to provide your employer’s information and other employment information, including employment dates, estimate of wages and amount of federal taxes withheld last year. The IRS will reach out to your employer on your behalf and request your W-2 be sent to you. Note that the IRS will contact your employer about the current tax year’s W-2. If you’re looking for a previous tax year’s W-2, you’ll need to request a transcript copy from the IRS. The transcript will include federal tax information your employer reported. That said, it will not include any state or local tax information reported by your employer. Transcripts are available for up to 10 years.  

Contact the Social Security Administration 

Since your employer reports your earnings to the Social Security Administration, you can request copies of your W-2s from them if you lose the original. You can request a copy for any W-2 from the years 1978 to the present, however it may cost you. You can get free copies if you need them for a Social Security-related purpose. There is a $126 fee per request for other purposes including: 

  • Federal or state tax filings 
  • Residency establishment 
  • Private pension entitlement 
  • Worker’s compensation income information 

If you are seeking W-2s from multiple tax years, this option can quickly become expensive. In some cases, it might be necessary to find all the relevant information needed to file both federal and state tax returns.  

Tax Help for Those Who Lost Their W-2 

Remember that just because you lost your W-2, or never received it, you still may need to file your taxes if you meet certain income thresholds. Locating a lost W-2 can be tricky and time-consuming, especially if it’s from a previous tax year or from an employer that you no longer work for. If you need help with your tax debt, tax relief is always an option. Optima Tax Relief is the nation’s leading tax resolution firm with over a decade of experience helping taxpayers with tough tax situations.  

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