What if You Forget to Put a W-2 on Your Taxes?

You can fix an error on your income tax return by filing Form 1040X.
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Each year, the Internal Revenue Service receives thousands of income tax returns that contain errors. These errors range from common mathematical mistakes to incorrect personal information. If your employer doesn't mail your W-2 by Jan. 30, you might forget about the income and file your income tax return. When you receive the forgotten W-2, don’t panic. The IRS lets you to fix the error by amending your income tax return.

Form 1040X

Form 1040X, or the Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, is a form designed specifically for individual taxpayers who make mistakes on an income tax return. This form allows you to change several items on your return, such as your filing status, exemptions, credits and income. Regardless of the form used to file your previous return, you must use Form 1040X to file your amended return.

IRS Rules

The IRS enforces several rules on filing an amended return. If the error on your original return will cause you to owe additional tax, you must file the amendment and pay the tax owed by tax day, which is generally April 15. If you fail to file the amended return and pay the tax, you may be charged late fees and penalties. If amending your income tax return will result in a refund, file the amended return within three years from the day you filed the original return, or two years from the day you paid the tax, whichever date is later.

Completing the Form

To report income from a W-2, report the change in the line labeled "Adjusted Gross Income." Refer to your original income tax return and enter your adjusted gross income (AGI) in Column A. Enter the amount listed in Box 1 on the W-2 in Column B. Add the amount in Box 1 on your W-2 to your original AGI, and enter the total amount in Column C. If you paid taxes on the income, you must also change the amounts in the line labeled "Federal Income Tax Withheld." Refer to your original tax return and enter the income tax withheld in Column A. Enter the amount from Box 2 on Form W-2 in Column B. Add the federal income tax withheld from your original return to the amount from Box 2 and enter the total in Column C. Complete the remaining calculations on Form 1040X to determine whether you owe taxes or will receive a refund.

Filing the Return

Filing an amended return differs significantly than filing an original income tax return. The IRS does not let you file an amended return electronically; therefore, you must mail the return. Because processing a paper return is more complicated than a computer-based return, processing times can take 12 weeks. If you filed your original return through the mail, you cannot mail your amended return to the same mailing address. The IRS has specific processing centers for amended returns. To locate the proper mailing address, refer to the Form 1040X instructions.

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