Tax Tips


Tracking Down a Lost W-2

Mary Beth Franklin

Missing information can slow your tax-return preparation -- and your refund.



Getting ready to file your 2010 tax return? Make sure you have all of your documents before you start. You should receive a Form W-2, “Wage and Tax Statement,” from your employer --or each employer if you had more than one during the year. Employers had until February 1, 2011, to send you a 2010 Form W-2 earnings statement. If you haven’t received your W-2, follow these steps:

1. Contact your employer. Ask whether and when the W-2 was mailed. If it was mailed, it may have been returned to the employer because of an incorrect or incomplete address. Allow a reasonable amount of time for the employer to resend or issue the W-2.

2. Contact the IRS. If you do not receive your W-2 by February 16, contact the IRS for assistance at 800-829-1040. When you call, you must provide your name, address, city, state, zip code, Social Security number and phone number, and have the following information:
•Employer’s name, address, city, state, zip code and phone number.
•Your dates of employment.
•An estimate of the wages you earned and the federal income tax withheld. You can base your estimate on year-to-date information from your final pay stub.

3. File your return. Even if you have not received your W-2, you still must file your tax return by April 18. If you have not received the W-2 by then and you’ve contacted your employer and the IRS, you may use Form 4852, “Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement.” Attach Form 4852 to the return, estimating income and withholding taxes as accurately as possible. There may be a delay in any refund due while the information is verified.

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Or you can apply for a six-month extension to file your tax return, by filing Form 4868 electronically or by mail. But remember, an extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. If you owe money on your 2010 tax return and don’t pay by April 18, 2011, interest and penalties will accrue.

4. Amend your return. If your missing W-2 arrives after you have already filed your return using substitute Form 4852 and the information on the W-2 is different from what you reported on your return, you must amend your return by filing Form 140X, “Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.”



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