You're ready to file your taxes and score a generous refund check, but if your employer hasn't given you your W-2 yet, you may not have the information needed to fill out your tax forms. By law, your employer must give you your W-2 by Jan. 31. If the employer refuses, you can still file your taxes, although you may need to file an amended return later when your W-2 arrives.
Talk to Your Employer
If your employer refuses to give you your W-2, let her know that the IRS requires her to issue it to you by Jan. 31. Tell your employer that the IRS will fine her for not issuing the W-2 on time. After Jan. 31, the fine is $15. That increases to $30 if it's more than 30 days late, or $50 if the employer never gives you the form at all. If you tell your employer that you'll contact the IRS, it might be the push she needs to issue your W-2.
Alert the IRS
The IRS recommends contacting it at 800-829-1040 if you don't receive your W-2 by Feb. 14. Before you call, gather the information the IRS will request from you. You'll need to give your name, full address, phone number and Social Security number. You will also need to provide your employer's name, address and phone number as well as your dates of employment with the employer. The IRS will ask for an estimate of your wages for the year as well as the federal income tax withheld. Base your estimate on the year-to-date information on your final pay stub. The IRS will attempt to contact the employer and ask her to send the W-2 to you.
File without Your W-2
If the IRS cannot contact your employer, or she still refuses to give you the W-2, you'll still need to file your taxes, typically by April 15. You can't file using your normal form, such as the 1040-EZ, however. You'll need to use Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, instead. This form asks for your estimated income information. The IRS may take additional time to verify the information before giving you your refund.
File an Amended Return
If you receive your W-2 after you already filed your taxes, you might need to file an amended return. You must file if the information on the W-2 doesn't match what you entered on the Form 4852. In this case, fill out Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Tax Return. Filing an amended return may net you a bigger refund, or you may need to pay more taxes.
Melissa King began writing in 2001. She spent three years writing for her local newspaper, "The Colt," writing editorials, news stories, product reviews and entertainment pieces. She is also the owner and operator of Howbert Freelance Writing. King holds an Associate of Arts in communications from Tarrant County College.