If you’re anything like us, you’re an early bird when it comes to filing your taxes; you want to file as early as possible. So as we creep into February, you’re starting to get anxious. There’s one problem: Your W-2 is lost in the mail.
Theoretically, your tax forms should have come in the mail by January 30th, but things happen. From address errors to address changes, mix-ups at the Post Office, and more, a host of issues can get between you and your tax documents.
So what do you do if your W-2 form hasn’t found its way to your mailbox? Or what actions should you take if you seem to have misplaced your tax documents since you received them?
Well, first thing’s first: Don’t worry.
This is actually a lot more common than you may think, and the IRS has plenty advice for what to do next. By taking a few careful steps, you can ensure you have all the documents you need to get started on your taxes. Then you’ll be well on your way filing a return the IRS will love!
The IRS is used to lost or missing W-2s and other tax documents. So much so, in fact, that they make recommendations on what you should do.
Here’s everything you should do if you’re worried your W-2 is lost in the mail, according to the IRS:
Most lost W-2s are simply clerical or mailing address issues. Perhaps you’ve moved since you filled out your form, or a 2 in your address looked suspiciously like a 3. In some cases, your company may be a little disorganized or off the ball, so their team takes a little longer than expected to mail out the paperwork!
If you have yet to receive your tax forms from your employer by mid-February, your first step should be to contact your employer and mention you haven’t received your tax forms. If there’s an error in your information on file, this is where you’ll find it!
If you’ve contacted your employer and followed up, but you still haven’t received your W-2 from your employer by the end of February, the IRS recommends you contact them.
The number to call is 800-829-1040.
When you call, you’ll need some information to confirm your identity:
Regardless of whether or not you’ve received your W-2, you still need to file on time. However, you can also file for an extension, which gives you an extra six months to file.
If you file on time:
Without a W-2, you should use Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. Here, you must estimate your wages and taxes as accurately as possible. This option may take a bit longer, since the IRS will need to verify your information.
If you file for an extension:
If you’d rather just have a bit more time to file, instead apply for a six-month extension to file, which you can do through most tax software and tax preparation services. As a reminder, you still will need to pay your owed taxes by the deadline.
Though you may have filed and paid by Tax Day, if your W-2 finds its way to you after the point at which you’ve filed, you can always amend your return.
Even if your estimate was close to what you filed, it’s best to handle any discrepancies and ensure that IRS has the exact numbers from your end. The form you’ll need is Form 1040-X.
If you’re instead missing forms from a bank account, broker, or another asset, you can cover the same steps you did with your employer, by contacting them to either correct your information or resend it.
One way to reduce error is to go paperless. Nearly every bank or online stock trading platform has an online portal through which you can update your account information, and many of those offer “paperless” options which will ensure you receive your tax documents on their website or via your email.
Your tax forms are important, but a missing form isn’t the end of the world, and it’s a lot easier to acquire than you may think. Sure, it’s a hassle. But if you start thinking about the tax filing process early enough, you can still file on time despite a missing tax form—and maybe even have some time to spare!