Can I Do My Taxes without a W-2?

by Jordan Meyers, Demand Media
    Don't let a late W-2 hold up your tax return.

    Don't let a late W-2 hold up your tax return.

    If you've been waiting with baited breath to file your taxes and get a hefty refund, you probably have most of the documentation you need at the ready for tax time. Unfortunately, however, you do have to depend on others to provide some of the forms you need. One of these forms is called a W-2, and getting one late can really ruin your mood.

    Definition

    A W-2 is a statement that employers are required to file with the Internal Revenue Service every year. If you earned wages as an employee, you should receive a W-2 that provides the same information that is submitted to the IRS. This form includes a summary of your wage and tax information for the tax year and is necessary for calculating your tax liability and filing your tax return. For most tax years, employers are required to mail this form by the last day of January. If that day falls on a weekend, the first business day of February is the mailing deadline.

    Missing W-2

    If you have not received your W-2 within a reasonable amount of time, you can file without it. You will, however, need the amounts that should have been included on the W-2. You can contact your employer and explain that you have not received your W-2. A company representative may provide you with the W-2 amounts over the phone or fax a copy of the form to you. If you are unable to get swift help from your employer, contact the IRS and provide a representative with your name and Social Security number as well as the name, address and phone number of your employer. If your employer filed a W-2 with the IRS, an IRS representative can give you the amounts you need for your tax return.

    Your Last Paystub

    You can file your tax return even if you do not have a copy of your W-2 and are unable to obtain the amounts listed on it from the IRS or your employer. In such a case, you can use your last pay stub of the applicable tax year to figure your taxes. Your last pay stub should include your gross pay for the year; your state, federal and local tax withholding amounts; and the amounts you paid for Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you had any pretax money deducted from your paychecks, you will have to subtract those amounts from your gross pay when making your tax calculations.

    Wage and Tax Estimations

    You may estimate your gross pay, tax, and Social Security and Medicare witholdings if you do not have your last pay stub. Unfortunately, however, this may cause you to provide slightly off numbers on your tax return. It is probably best to use this method only as a last resort. If you do decide to go this route, file IRS tax form 4852 with your taxes. This lets the IRS know you did not receive your W-2 and provides information about the method you used to calculate your income and withholdings without it.

    File an Extension

    If you just don't feel comfortable filing without your W-2, you can file for an extension. File IRS form 4868 to get an automatic six-month extension on your tax return. If you know you will owe money, however, it is best to estimate your tax liability and submit your payment along with the extension form. Have the extension form and any payment due postmarked by the regular tax filing due date to avoid owing interest and penalties.

    About the Author

    Jordan Meyers has been a freelance writer, specializing in health, education, business and parenting topics for more than a decade and a copy editor since 2008. Meyers has written Web and print copy for hundreds of businesses, including many Fortune 500 companies. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Maryland and is studying for a bachelor's degree in psychology.

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