What To Do When You Lost Your W2 Form? FAQs and More

The payroll workers who want to file their tax returns every year need Form W2 as the first document to start the process. All employers must file Form W2 and send copies to the employees before Jan 31st of every year.

However, it is natural to get panicked if you have not received your Form W2 until the mid of February. The situation can be even worse if you have lost your Form W2 during the mail process or by negligence on your own end.

Although these situations can be very frustrating, no problem in the world comes without a solution. Similarly, there are several options you will need to focus on after realizing that you have lost your Form W2 sent to you from your employer.

What can you do now?

How are you supposed to file your tax return?

Do you have the option to file late in case you lost your Form W2?

These are some of the questions you might be trying to find answers to. Therefore, we have come up with a complete guide on the options you have after losing your Form W2 of current or previous years from current or previous employers.

So let’s get into it.

Key Takeaways

  • Form W2 is called Wages and Tax Statements, and every employer has to complete & file the form with the Social Security Administration. The employers must also send the relevant copies to the employee and local and state departments.
  • You can request your employer or the HR department of your office for a duplicate W2 form if you have lost your form.
  • You can also request the IRS to issue you a copy of your previous year’s federal tax return, W2 transcript, or copy of W2 attached to your paper return.
  • You can also file your tax return with the substitute of Form W2 by putting the best-estimated income, tax, etc.
  • The tax filers can also request an extension on the date of filing tax returns.

What Is Form W2?

We are sure that you would know what Form W2 is, but it is always a good idea to start from the basics. Therefore, we will also discuss Form W2, what it contains, who files the form, etc.

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So a Form W2 is called a Wages and Tax Statement and contains information about employees’ remuneration, taxes, contributions, etc.

However, the employer is responsible for completing and filing Form W2 with the relevant department. A copy of Form W2 is also sent to the employee for accurate reporting of income and taxes.

The Form W2 contains the following information:

  • Wages, salaries, and compensation
  • Tips
  • Contributions to 401(k)
  • Contributions to a health savings account
  • The contribution of the employer toward premiums for health coverage

What are my options if I lose my previous year’s Form W2?

If you have lost the Form W2 from the previous tax year or earlier, there are several ways you can use it to get a copy of your Form W2. We will briefly discuss all the options you have to get the Form W2 from previous tax years:

Contact Your Employer

You can first contact the human resource department of your current employer or previous employer to ask for a copy of the Form W2 for the relevant year.

In case you want the Form W2 from the previous employer, he will issue you a duplicate of the Form W2 if you have all the records of your employment history.

If your current employer is the one who has to issue the duplicate of Form W2, contacting the human resource department with relevant information will be enough to get the form.

Contact the IRS

There can be many cases when your previous or current employer cannot help you get the duplicate Form W2.

The second option for you is to contact the IRS to get a copy of your W2 transcript. W2 Transcript is the copy of Form W2 which your employer filed with the IRS. Therefore, it doesn’t contain information about the state and local taxes.

A copy of this transcript should be sufficient to get the details about your wage, income, and federal tax information.

You can also get a copy of your original Form W2 from the IRS if you have attached it to your paper tax return. In other cases, you will only be able to request the transcript containing your income and federal tax information.

Request a Copy of Your Federal Tax Return For Previous Years

You can also request a copy of your federal tax return from the IRS against a fee. You can request the previous federal tax returns of up to 10 years.

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You will need to complete form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, pay the fee, and mail the documents to the IRS. You will receive a copy of your tax return within 75 calendar days.

Find Your Tax Return From Tax Filing Software

If you were using any tax software for filing your tax return, you could also access your previous year’s W2.

You might have uploaded the Form W2 on tax software like TurboTax, HRBlock, etc., from where you can download it.

What To Do If I Lost My Current Year’s Form W2?

What if your Form W2 got lost during transit after your employer had mailed it to you? And what if you forgot where you had put the mail containing your Form W2 and the tax deadline is approaching?

It is not the time you should be wasting checking the piles of paper to find Form W2. Here are the options you can try to get a copy of your Form W2 or at least get some information about your income & taxes to be able to file your tax return on time:

1.     Contact Your Employer To Get Duplicate

Contacting your employer is the quickest method you can try to get a duplicate of your Form W2. You should approach your office’s human resource department and explain your circumstances.

Ideally, your HR department should be able to provide you with a duplicate Form W2. Make sure that you have provided the accurate address to receive your W2.

2.     Check Online Portal For a Digital Copy Of the W2

If you have been working for a company that uses online portals and HR software for the employees to access their Form W2, you can easily download the digital copy of your Form W2 from there.

Depending on the software your employer is using, you will be required to enter your employee credentials to access the portal and download your digital Form W2 or pay stubs.

3.     Contact Social Security Administration For W2 Copy

Every employer has to complete and file Form W2 with the Social Security Administration. SSA processes the form W2, and the relevant information is transmitted to the IRS.

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Therefore, the second option after requesting your employer should be contacting SSA to get a copy of your Form W2.

You will have to provide the relevant information to the SSA representative along with your circumstances to request the relevant information.

4.     Request IRS to Issue W2 Transcript For Current Year

The fourth option for you is to request the IRS to issue the W2 transcript for the current year. As mentioned earlier, the transcript you will receive from the IRS will not contain any state or local tax information.

If you want your Form W2 before filing the tax return, your only option is the W2 transcript. However, if you need the W2 after filing the tax return, you might be able to get a copy of your Form W2 if you have attached it to your paper return.

5.     File With W2 Substitute

Does nothing seem to work for you?

You still have the option to file your tax return without the original Form W2. You can file your tax return with a W2 substitute called Form 4852.

Form 4852 can be found on the website of the IRS from where you can download it and file it with your tax return. You will file your tax return with the best estimate of your income and deductions.


Do I still need to file taxes on time if I don’t have my W2?

Yes, losing or not receiving your Form W2 is not a strong excuse not to file your tax return on time. You will still need to file your taxes on time with the substitute of Form W2.

Should I request an extension for filing a tax return if I lost my Form w2?

You can request an extension for filing your taxes by using Form 4868. The extension granted by the IRS allows you to file your tax returns by Oct 15th of the tax year.

However, you will have to make sure to get a copy of your Form W2 during the extension time allowed.