January and early February represent a period of what is known as information return filings in the tax field. Put in more understandable terms, this is the time when forms like the W-2 are filed. So, what do you do if you don’t receive a W-2? Let’s take a look.
What is a W-2? It is the form designated by the IRS for your employer to report information on your earnings such as wages, taxes withheld, money put into retirement accounts and so on. The employer must serve you with a copy before the end of January and then must file a copy with the IRS a month or so later on. The IRS then uses the form to cross check information that you report on personal tax returns filed for the year.
So, what do you do if it is the middle of February or later and nothing has come? Well, the first step should be a bit obvious – contact your employer. Sending out W-2s is usually an automated task. The fact you haven’t received one usually just means an error occurred such as you didn’t update your address or whatever. The employer will almost always give you another copy.
What if this doesn’t solve things? I can’t imagine an employer would refuse to issue a W-2, but a lot of businesses failed in 2009. If there is no business, there is certainly going to be no W-2 forms issued. In such a situation, you simply have to report the earnings on your 1040 tax return. You can get the figures by adding up the numbers reported on each of your paychecks. If that doesn’t work, you will need to use a best estimate of the amount you earned and paid for the year.
The IRS lives off of information reported to it by employers and will fine them for not filing the necessary paperwork. As a result, nearly every employer will issue a W-2 without any problem. If you haven’t received yours, just talking to the employer will usually resolve everything.