How to Obtain Old W-2s From Employers

Keep records including past W-2 forms.
i Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images

At some point, you might need copies of your old W-2s. These slips of paper, which show your annual wages and taxes withheld, are difficult to keep up with, especially if you have moved. You might need them for an IRS tax audit or a state tax audit, or perhaps you forgot to file taxes one year while you were in college. You might want to maintain them for your own personal records. You can usually get copies of old W-2s simply by asking.

Step 1

Contact your previous employer by phone or by email and ask if the company can provide the information you need. Ask to speak with the human resources manager. Sometimes companies have payroll services managed by an outside company; your previous employer can contact that company to get copies for you free of charge.

Step 2

Check with the Social Security Administration. If you need copies for a Social Security reason, it will provide you with copies of any W-2s free of charge. If you need the copies for tax reasons, you can get them from Social Security for a set fee for each year. There will also be an additional charge if you need certified copies. Request the forms from the SSA using IRS Form 4506.

Step 3

File Form 4506 with the Internal Revenue Service, which will allow you to request copies or transcripts of W-2s or tax records. The IRS provides the information free for the last six years, but you need to wait at least 13 months to receive tax information from a previous year. For example, if you need copies of your W-2s from December 2010 you may have to wait until February 2012 before you can file Form 4506. Copies of W-2s are free, but copies of tax returns are available for a fee.

Step 4

Call the IRS with any tax questions you may have about prior years' W-2s. You can also go to any local IRS office. You may receive the information you need faster if you request copies in person. Be prepared to wait approximately six to eight weeks from the time you submitted your form.

Step 5

Locate your State Department of Revenue if you need state tax records. Obtain the required form for your state and mail it to the State Department of Revenue. Most states require a small fee, which must be included with the request form.

the nest