John R. Bullis: What if my W-2 is wrong or never received?
If you received a W-2 form showing information that is not correct (wrong wages amount, wrong income tax withheld, etc.) you should contact the employer and ask for a corrected W-2.
No one is perfect. Since mistakes can happen, it is important to save your pay stubs and compare the W-2 you receive with the total of the pay stubs.
If the employer does not provide a corrected W-2, you can contact IRS (800-829-1040) and explain the problem. IRS will send a letter to the employer that explains what is to be done.
IRS will ask you for a lot of information, including your telephone number and dates of employment. It needs the name of your employer, telephone number of the employer and the employer Employer Identification Number (EIN). If you received a W-2 from the same employer the year before, that EIN will be on that W-2 form.
If the employer is gone out of business and you are not able to contact them, you can file IRS form 4852, substitute for W-2, (and other forms) with your income tax return.
If you don’t have all your pay stubs, form 4852 does allow for estimates to be used. We have seen wrong W-2 forms from various large employers, once years ago even the State of California.
You need to keep your copy of the form 4852 with your notes on the attempts to contact the employer and the results. We suggest you save all income tax returns. The supporting data and information can usually be destroyed four years after filing.
If you file your return and later receive a W-2 that has different amounts than you reported on your income tax return, you may need to file an amended return, form 1040X.
The W-2 form is important to Social Security Administration, not just IRS. Your future Social Security benefits (and possibly the disability benefits) are determined by the wages that were subject to FICA taxes. If the Social Security Administration does not have the information, the computation of future benefits will probably be understated.
The W-2 forms are supposed to be mailed by Jan. 31 of the following year. If your form is not received by the end of February, you need to take action. First try to contact your employer.
The employer can be subject to various penalties for not providing the correct W-2 forms in a timely manner.
Did you hear? “People should know what you stand for. They should also know what you won’t stand for,” by Author Unknown.
John Bullis is a certified public accountant, personal financial specialist and certified senior adviser who has served Carson City for 45 years. He is founder emeritus of Bullis and Company CPAs.