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How to Handle Missing or Incorrect Forms W-2

(Parker Tax Publishing February 2017)

If a missing or corrected Form W-2 is not received by the end of February, the IRS should be contacted, and will attempt to obtain the information from the employer.

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act now requires employers to submit Form W-2 to the Social Security Administration (SSA) by January 31. The PATH Act did not alter the long-standing January 31 deadline for furnishing copies of these forms to employees. According to the IRS, if a Form W-2 is not received by January 31 or the information is incorrect on the form, the taxpayer should contact the employer.

Missing or Incorrect Forms W-2

If a missing or corrected Form W-2 is not received by February 28, the IRS should be contacted at 800-829-1040 for assistance. When calling the IRS, have the following information on hand:

(1) The taxpayer's name, address (including zip code), social security number, phone number, and dates of employment.

(2) The employer's name and complete address (including zip code), employer identification number if known (taxpayers can look at the prior year's form if the same employer), and phone number.

The IRS will send the employer a letter requesting it furnish a corrected Form W-2 within 10 days. The letter also reminds the employer of its responsibility to provide a correct Form W-2 and the penalties for failing to do so.

The IRS will send the taxpayer a letter with instructions and Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, or Form 1099-R, Distributions from Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, etc. The taxpayer can submit the Form 4852 with their Form 1040 if the employer doesn't provide a corrected Form W-2 by the return filing deadline. If that occurs, the taxpayer will need to estimate the wages earned and taxes withheld by that employer, which can be based on the end-of-year pay stub, if available. As would be expected, filing Form 4852 with the return may result in processing delays while the IRS verifies the information provided.

The IRS recommends that taxpayers keep a copy of the Form 4852 until they begin receiving social security benefits, in case there's a question about their work record and/or earnings for the year. After September 30 following the year entered on line 4 of the Form 4852, taxpayers can access their online Social Security account or contact their local SSA office to verify the wages reported by the employer.

Amended Return May be Necessary

Taxpayers must file their tax return or request an extension of time by the due date of the return, even if Form W-2 has not been received. Taxpayers who receive a corrected form after they file their return with information differing from what was reported on the return should amend the return on Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

For further discussion on missing Form W-2s, see Parker Tax ¶252,595.

Disclaimer: This publication does not, and is not intended to, provide legal, tax or accounting advice, and readers should consult their tax advisors concerning the application of tax laws to their particular situations. This analysis is not tax advice and is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for purposes of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer. The information contained herein is general in nature and based on authorities that are subject to change. Parker Tax Publishing guarantees neither the accuracy nor completeness of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for results obtained by others as a result of reliance upon such information. Parker Tax Publishing assumes no obligation to inform the reader of any changes in tax laws or other factors that could affect information contained herein.

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