Business Columns & Blogs

Action Line: Waiting on your W-2? Here’s what you should know

A reader: I’m waiting for my boss to give me my W-2 forms so that I can file my taxes. When I asked him about it, he told he would hand them out as soon as they were ready. How long can he make me wait? What do I do if he doesn’t hand them out?

Action Line: 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.

The IRS requires employers to send a W-2 no later than Jan. 31. If you are an independent contractor or self-employed, you should receive a Form 1099 rather than a W-2. The Jan. 31 deadline gives taxpayers enough time to get tax returns prepared and filed by or before April 15.

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 (employers actually have until Feb. 1 this year because Jan. 31 falls on a Sunday), 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 haven’t received your W-2 by Feb. 15, alert the IRS. Locate your last pay stub. That will give you 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,

Happy Tax Season!

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, 4201 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 107, Fresno, CA 93722 or