What to Do If the Wrong Wage Is Reported on Your W-2?

When your W-2 has the wrong wage total, ignoring the mistake upon filing your tax return creates almost as much trouble as ignoring a tornado when playing a baseball game. The danger eventually passes, but minimizing the damage is paramount. The Internal Revenue Service will help you with an incorrect W-2 if you don’t obtain a response from your employer to your request for amendment. But you are ultimately responsible for proving the figures you place on your tax return.

Give your employer a written statement of the error on your W-2 and request a correction. Your estimate of correct wages and federal income tax withheld is available from your final pay stub for the last payday of the year.

Call the Internal Revenue Service at 800-829-1040 to request that an IRS representative initiate a Form W-2 complaint if your employer has not corrected your W-2 by Feb. 15. The IRS will send a letter to your employer requesting a corrected W-2 to you within 10 days. In addition, you receive from the IRS by regular mail a Form 4852 and the instructions.

Follow the instructions for completing IRS Form 4852 to submit with your tax return if you have not received a corrected W-2 by the tax return filing deadline.

Items you will need

  • Your employer's name, address, and telephone number
  • Employer identification number of your employer
  • Estimate of the correct wages you earned, federal income tax withheld, and your period of employment

Tips

  • The nine-digit employer identification number of your employer is on your W-2.
  • Wait until the deadline to file your tax return with Form 4852 only after you don’t receive a corrected W-2. Form W-2c is used to correct a mistake on an original W-2. Filing your tax return with Form 4852 instead of a correct Form W-2 delays the processing of your tax refund. If you later receive Form W-2 with the correct amount of wages that is different than the estimate you placed on Form 4852, you must file an amended tax return. This can cause you to owe additional tax plus any applicable penalties.

Warning

  • Mistakes with Form 4852 are potentially very costly. Using a professional tax preparer to complete your tax return with Form 4852 provides the best assurance that you avoid any errors on the submitted form.

About the Author

Brian Huber has been a writer since 1981, primarily composing literature for businesses that convey information to customers, shareholders and lenders. Huber has written about various financial, accounting and tax matters and his published articles have appeared on various websites. He has a Bachelor of Arts in economics from the University of Texas at Austin.