How to Deal With Lost W2 Tax Forms

When it's time to do your taxes, you want to track down any lost W2 tax forms. When you work for a company and they withhold taxes on your behalf, you are entitled to a W2 withholding form at the end of each year to assist you in preparing your income taxes. While employers are required by law to give the W2 form to all employees by January 31st, if it hasn't arrived yet, there are steps you can take to retrieve a lost W2 tax form.

Contact Your Employer: Perhaps whoever prepares the company tax information simply hasn't met the deadline of January 31st, and the W2 forms will be coming shortly. If you find out that the W2 forms were indeed mailed out, yet you still haven't received yours, determine if the form could still be in the mail. If the forms were mailed out on a Friday, and it's Tuesday, it's still possible that your W2 form is simply still in the mail and is not lost. Give it a few more days to ensure that the form will arrive in your mailbox.

If your company has confirmed that the W2 tax forms were indeed mailed out on time, yet you still haven't received yours, it's time to do some detective work. Check with your employer to confirm that your address is correct in their records, especially if you have moved in the last year.

Request a New Form: If all the signs point to a lost W2 tax form, simply ask your employer to issue another for you. Some employers will provide a new W2 form within a few days for no fee, while others may have to contact the out-of-house company that prepares their tax documents. Sometimes this may require a small fee. Either way, your employer should do everything they can to provide a replacement document for the lost W2 tax form.

Notify the IRS: If you cannot get a new W2 tax form from a prior place of employment despite your efforts, there may be several scenarios as to why. The company may be going out of business, or the owners are not paying the appropriate taxes. If you've done all you can to get a lost W2 tax form but are unsuccessful, call the IRS. Provide the employer's name and address, an employer identification number if you have it, an estimation of your wages, an estimation of your income tax withholdings and the dates that you began and ended employment with them. The IRS will have you fill out a special form that can be used as a substitute wage and tax statement. But do all you can to get that W2 because life is much easier with one less tax form.

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Are you worried about penalties for late tax returns? For whatever reason, you've let the April 15th income tax deadline come and go. There are penalties for late returns, but, if you follow the appropriate steps, you can minimize the penalties and keep things in good order with the IRS. 

Nearly 75 percent of Americans receive a tax return each year, with each return averaging nearly $2,500. That's a nice windfall for most of us but that doesn't mean you should run out and spend it like it's burning a hole in your pocket. 

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