How to Get a W-2 From a Previous Employer

One of the most challenging and frustrating processes you can go through when filing a tax return is to have to wait for your W-2, or any document, from a previous employer – especially when you desperately need your refund.

how to get a w2 previous employer

While your old employer may have a valid reason for the delay, such as incomplete records or incorrect personal details, you need to know your rights to ensure you get what you’re owed.

Table of Contents

Know your rights

Here are your rights when it comes to getting the correct documents on time.

All employers are legally obligated to send your W-2 to you no later than January 31st of each calendar year.

The document provides detailed information about your entire year’s wages and any taxes that have been withheld, which is essential for you to file your return.

A copy of the document also needs to be sent to the IRS because a payslip is different from a W-2. The difference is that payslips only provide monthly details, whereas the W-2 is a record of the entire year.

Although the IRS has a guideline of 2 weeks for postal delivery of your W-2 document, this doesn’t mean that you need to sit and wait for it to arrive.

Speed up the process

Here are a few things you can do to try and speed up the process of getting your W2 from an old job or previous employer:

  • Check that your employer, previous or current, has mailed the form. Be sure to confirm the date it was sent, too.
  • Confirm your mailing address and details, right down to the spelling of the street name.
  • If you don’t feel confident, request another copy.
  • Many employers provide the option of getting your W-2 information online – check if this is the case in your workplace.

The importing process is simple, but companies like TurboTax will guide you through any queries you may have and manage the process for you. Once the info is imported, recheck it.

If you receive a W-2C after importing your W-2 data, change the W-2 information to the “correct information” area on the new document.

Again, you can do this easily through TurboTax W2 online import.

Last resort

If you still don’t have any luck, contact the IRS directly at 800-829-1040. Be sure that you have your name, address, and Social Security number available.

You will also need the employer's name and complete physical address, as well as the timeframe of when you worked there.

It might also help to estimate your earnings and the rough amount of federal income tax deducted from your pay during that time.

Once you have contacted them, the IRS will follow up with the employer.

Failing that, you can also download Form 4506-T, which has a breakdown of the W-2 information that your employer has reported.

Alternatively, request Form 4852, which allows you to estimate your wages and deductions based on the final payslip received.

Remember that when you eventually get your W-2 or W-2C, you will have to amend your return if the figures used are different from the substitute Form 4852.

You have support

Remember, TurboTax will guide you through getting your W2 form and making sure you get your tax refund as quickly and efficiently as possible.