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How to Get Copies of Old W‐2 Forms
This article was co-authored by Cassandra Lenfert, CPA, CFP®. Cassandra Lenfert is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) in Colorado. She advises clients nationwide through her tax firm, Cassandra Lenfert, CPA, LLC. With over 15 years of tax, accounting, and personal finance experience, Cassandra specializes in working with individuals and small businesses on proactive tax planning to help them keep more money to reach their goals. She received her BA in Accounting from the University of Southern Indiana in 2006.
There are several reasons why you might need to get copies of old W-2 forms. Maybe you need old W-2 copies because you are facing an audit or, more happily, if an accountant tells you that you can get money back from past taxes. You may also have encountered a situation where you are asked to provide proof of income even though you did not make enough money to file for taxes, or you may be trying to file your taxes for the previous year, and did not receive a W-2 form that you know you should have.
- Use the IRS’s “Get Transcript” tool if you only need the information contained in the W-2 and the W-2 you need is less than 10 years old. This service is free of charge.
- Use form 4506 if you need your W-2 form and you need other information from that year’s completed taxes. However, you will only receive a copy of your actual W-2 if you paper-filed your taxes that year and submitted a copy of your W-2 at filing. Each copy that you request costs $50.00 with this option.  X Trustworthy Source Internal Revenue Service U.S. government agency in charge of managing the Federal Tax Code Go to source
- Use form 4506-T if you only need the information that was on the W-2 and not the actual completed W-2. This option is free of charge.  X Trustworthy Source Internal Revenue Service U.S. government agency in charge of managing the Federal Tax Code Go to source
- For additional assistance, call the IRS at 1-800-908-0046.
- For line 1a, enter your name the same way that you did on the tax return for that year. If you filed a joint return, enter the name that was listed first on the return.
- For line 1b, enter the Social Security number of the person named in line 1a. If the first filer on the tax return used an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) or an employer identification number (EIN), enter that number.
- Only fill in lines 2a and 2b if you filed a joint return for the year you are requesting. For lines 2a and 2b, enter the second name and Social Security (or other tax ID) number listed on the tax return for that year.
- For line 3, enter your current name and mailing address. Make sure to include the city, state, ZIP code, and country (if you are living outside of the US).
- For line 4, enter the address that was listed on the tax return for the year you are requesting only if it is different than the address listed on line 3.
- Only complete line 5 if you want the tax return copy or transcript sent to someone other than you. If you do, you will need to enter the name, address, and telephone number (with area code) of the person or business to whom you want it sent.
- Be aware that the IRS has no control over how this third party will use your information. You may want to consider having a written agreement regarding use and disclosure of your information with this person or entity.
When Do I Get My W2?
If you haven’t yet received your W2, you may simply be expecting it too early. The IRS requires employers to mail W2 forms by January 31. Note that this date is when they must mail the form — not when you must receive the form. This is a point of confusion for a lot of taxpayers. The IRS tells taxpayers to allow ample time for mail delivery. There is no cause for alarm unless your W2 is still missing on February 14. if you haven’t gotten what you need by Valentine’s Day, it’s time to start investigating.
You shouldn’t have to do anything special to get a W2 from your old job. They should send it to you automatically. All you have to do is make sure you fill out a change of address card if you move so the post office can forward your W2 (and other mail) as needed. Once everyone knows where to find you, your W2 should simply arrive one day early in the year.
If you haven’t received your W2 by February 14, first make sure it’s truly missing. Check your email, including your spam folder, to see if your former employer sent the document electronically. It’s easy to sign up for electronic versions of documents and then forget you’ve done so.
Check your email or your payroll portal if you still have access
If you received pay stubs and other information through some type of online portal, your W2 may be waiting for you there if you still have access. Taxpayers often ask, “can I get my W2 online?” This depends on your employer and whether or not they provided online access to payroll information. If they did, they may expect you to go and retrieve your W2 yourself when you want it.
Contact your former employer or payroll administrator directly
After checking your email and online portals, it may become clear that your W2 truly is missing. In that case, you will need to know how to get a W2 from my old job. The first step is to call your former employer and ask them to send it. If they used an outside payroll service or administrator, you can also contact them for help. They should still have records even if your old employer has gone out of business.
If you can’t track your W2 down but want to handle the situation yourself, contact the Internal Revenue Service. If you call them at 1-800-829-1040, they can send the employer a reminder to send you a W2. Even if your former boss has been giving you the run-around, he’s not likely to do the same once the IRS gets involved.
Call your tax preparer for help
When all else fails, ask a professional tax preparer for help. Sometimes a CPA or tax accountant can coerce a bit more cooperation from your former employer than you can. If not, a CPA will know how to work around your missing W2. She may, for example, suggest filing your tax return using the information from your final pay stub along with a Form 4852.
If you think you can get a W2 but you need more time, she can also file an extension for you, giving you more time to get your tax documents in order. (Remember that, as always, an extension gives you more time to file a return but not more time to pay any tax due.)