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Waiting on your W-2? Here’s when it’s due to you, and what to do if you don’t get one

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Q: I just got laid off and my employer did not give me my W-2. I need to get my taxes filed to hold me over until I can get back to work. My employer tells me the W-2s are not ready yet. Can they do this?

A: The IRS requires that every employer send its employees who worked in the previous year a W-2 no later than Jan. 31.


According to the IRS, every employer engaged in a trade or business who pays remuneration, including noncash payments of $600 or more for the year (all amounts if any income, Social Security, or Medicare tax was withheld) for services performed by an employee must file a Form W-2 for each employee (even if the employee is related to the employer) from whom:

▪ Income, Social Security or Medicare tax was withheld.

▪ Income tax would have been withheld if the employee had claimed no more than one withholding allowance or had not claimed exemption from withholding on Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate.

If you are an independent contractor or self-employed, you should receive a Form 1099 rather than a W-2.

Tax filing season begins Jan. 19 and you have until April 15 to file.

Most employers mail W-2s. When you receive your W-2 from your employer, make sure you read it. Verify the accuracy of the information. Make sure that your Social Security number is correct. Check the spelling of your name and verify that your address is correct.

Don’t panic. If you don’t get your W-2 from your employer by Jan. 31 you can go back to your employer and request a replacement. Verify your address with your employer to make sure it was sent to the current address. You may want to make arrangements to go in and pick it up.

If you still do not receive your W-2, alert the IRS right away. Then locate your last pay stub. The pay stub will give you the information needed on withholdings, etc. It should also contain your employer’s employer identification number. This will help the IRS process your return. If you alert the IRS, they will send your employer a special form advising them that you did not receive your W-2. IRS will send you a copy of that notice and then you will be able to use Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2. If you never receive a W-2, you may use this same form to file your taxes. It can be downloaded from the IRS website,

Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or