W-2 forms are essential to have on hand for income tax filing and loan applications. If you worked for a company that is no longer operating, it's best to still try and contact the owner of the company for your W-2. If this is not an option, you still have several resources that will provide the W-2, or information from the W-2, to you. Most of these sources are free, though you may have to pay a fee with some.
If you only need your W-2 to prepare a tax return, you can use your last paystub to prepare a subsitute for your W-2 for tax filing purposes. IRS Form 4852 is available for free on the irs.gov website. This form asks for information from your last paystub, such as gross wages and taxes withheld, and is used to replace the W-2 form you should have received. If you use this form, attach it your tax return that the income is reported on. Many tax software programs allow you to complete this form and submit it electronically with your return if you choose to e-file.
The IRS allows taxpayers to receive free wage and income transcripts of the W-2 documents that have been sent it by employers. You can request this information for free by completing IRS Form 4506-T, and indicating on line 8 that you want wage information. The transcript you receive won't look exactly like your W-2, but it will contain all the same information, except for state income tax withholding. If you had state income taxes withheld from your pay, you'll also want to contact your state department of revenue to request wage and income information for the same year that you were employed with your prior employer.
If you need an exact copy of your W-2, you'll have to place an order with the Social Security Administration. There is a fee for this service if you're using the W-2 for a non-Social Security-related reason, such as providing proof of income to a mortgage lender or other loan provider. You'll use IRS Form 4506 to request the copy, even though you're making the request with the SSA. Employers are required to file W-2 forms with the SSA, not the IRS - so the physical images are actually retained by the SSA.
Contact Payroll Company
If your previous employer used a payroll service, such as Paycheck, Ceridian, ADP or other service company, contact the provider for W-2 information. Companies that outsource payroll responsibilities to an outside provider often request the servicer to prepare W-2 forms since the company already handles the payroll. While it's not a guarantee that the payroll company issued W-2s, it's definitely worth it to find out. If W-2 forms were issued, the company should be able to locate yours with the company name and your Social Security number.