Can I Find Out How Much I Will Get Back on My Taxes Without My W-2s?

by Fraser Sherman, Demand Media Google
    You can estimate your refund even without a W-2 form.

    You can estimate your refund even without a W-2 form.

    By January 31 of next year, you should receive a W-2 reporting this year's taxes from your employer -- or multiple W-2s for multiple employers. The form makes it easy to figure the size of your tax refund -- or how much more you owe -- but you can make the calculations even without a W-2. Before going that route, contact your employer, confirm she has your address right and ask her to resend the form. If a replacement doesn't arrive by February 14, report the absence to the IRS, then prepare to proceed without it.

    Step 1

    Download form 4852 from the IRS website. The 4852 is the substitute you use when your employer's W-2 doesn't arrive. It's okay to submit the form with your 1040 as long as you've notified your employer and the IRS that the W-2 didn't arrive.

    Step 2

    Find your last pay stub for the year. The "year to date" or YTD entry tells you how much you earned for the year, how much was taxable -- an amount that excludes contributions to a 401(k), for instance -- and how much tax your employer withheld.

    Step 3

    Contact the HR department at your company if you can't find a pay stub. Ask for the information. If you signed up for direct deposit, the information for the last pay period of the year should be available electronically.

    Step 4

    Complete 4852 and your 1040 using your pay stub information to figure your tax, your withholding and how big a refund -- if any -- you're entitled to. Submit the forms to the IRS and wait for your refund.

    Tip

    • If you receive a W-2 after filing your taxes and discover you made a mistake, file a 1040X form to correct your tax return. This shouldn't cause you any problems other than possibly paying more tax.

    Warning

    • If you file a 4852 in hopes you can underreport your tax without a W-2, the IRS can hit you with multiple financial penalties. Those include a fine of up to $5,000, an administrative penalty equal to 20 percent of your correct tax bill and a fraud penalty equal to 75 percent of your bill.

    About the Author

    Fraser Sherman is a former reporter with the "Destin Log" newspaper and now freelances full-time. His work has been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life," and he's the author of three film reference books, including "Screen Enemies of the American Way." He specializes in finance and tech articles.

    Photo Credits

    • Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images