When Do Employers Send W2s?

Posted by in Taxes | Updated on August 26, 2022

Every year, you need to file your tax returns with the IRS. The IRS takes the deadline to file and pay tax seriously, and it should be marked clearly on your calendar.

As part of your tax return, you have to file your W2 form. This is a form issued by your employer. It contains your earnings statement and a record of how much tax has been withheld from your monthly paychecks.

You have to get your W2 form from your employer before you can file your tax return. So, when do employers send W2s? And what can you do if your employer hasn’t sent you your W2 form? 

Here are six steps you can take.

When Do Employers Need to Send W2 Forms?

Each January, your employer needs to issue W2 forms to you and the IRS. The W2 form contains the amount of money you made during the previous year. It also shows how much your employer withheld for Income, Social Security, and Medicare tax. You need to submit the W2 form with your tax return.

Federal law requires employers to send W2 forms out to their employees by the 31st of January each year. If the end of the month falls on a weekend, the W2 form deadline might be a day or two later.


What Should You Do if You Haven’t Received Your W2?

If you think your employer has missed the W2 form deadline, here are six steps you can take.

1. Double Check Your Calendar

When do employers send W2s? Technically, your employer still meets the January 31st deadline as long as they get your W2 in the mail by the end-of-day on January 31st. This can be very frustrating, as you want to submit your tax return and claim any tax refunds you are eligible for

Perhaps your employer only dropped your W2 form into a U.S. Postal Service box on the very last day of the month. In this case, your W2 could still be on its way to you during the first week of February.

2. Review Your Emails

In this day and age, your employer might opt to give you electronic access to your tax statements. Check your email inbox to see whether you have electronic access to your W2 form. Perhaps your employer sent you your W2 form with password encryption. Or maybe you will receive an email notification that you can go to the company’s employee portal and download your earnings statement.

If you are expecting electronic access to your tax statements make sure to review your emails carefully. If the expected message hasn’t appeared in your inbox, check your spam folder.

3. Inquire with Your Employer

If it is halfway through February and you have not received your W2 by mail or electronically, you need to inquire with your employer. 

Your first port of call should be your company’s payroll or human resources department. Check whether there has been some mistake. Sometimes your employer might have a wrong address for you, or your W2 may have bounced back as undeliverable. After correcting the admin issue, your W2 can be reissued.

You can also check online databases for your W2 online. Your employer has to submit your W2 to the IRS as well as to you. If there has been an administrative issue, you may not have received your W2. But your employer may have successfully uploaded your W2 to the IRS, which makes it available on online databases run by some tax practitioners.

4. Contact the IRS

If you have been unsuccessful in getting your W2 even after inquiring with your employer, you should contact the IRS directly. 

If you haven’t received your W2 by the middle of February, call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1949.

During the call you’ll need:

  • Your name, address, phone number, and Social Security number
  • Your employer’s name, address, and phone number
  • Your dates of employment
  • An estimate of your income and the withheld federal income tax. Your last payslip of the tax year should have these amounts.

The IRS will contact your employer to issue the missing W2 form. The IRS will also send you 

  • Form 4852: Substitute for From W2, or
  • Form 1099R.

5. File Your Taxes Without a W2

If you file your taxes without a W2, it will slow down the processing of your return. If you are struggling to get a W2 from your employer, this delay might be preferable to not filing.

If your employer went out of business and you can’t track them down to request a W2 form, you can also file without a W2. In this case, you can submit Form 4852 with your return. Form 4852 asks you to estimate your income and taxes withheld last year. Your final payslip of the tax year can help provide these figures.

6. Request an Extension

If you want to wait for your official W2 form, you may need to request an extension to file your income tax return.

The easiest way to do this is to fill out Form 4868 which will give you an automatic six-month extension to file your 1040.

Remember that you are requesting an extension to file your tax forms. You are not being granted an extension to pay any tax you owe. You must estimate how much tax you owe and include that amount with Form 4868. Interest and penalties may apply if you pay less than you owe.

Your tax return, or an extension request, has to be filed by the tax filing deadline.

If your official earnings statement arrives after you’ve filed your taxes, you can amend your tax return to reflect the accurate amount.

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As part of your tax return, you have to file your W2 form. This is a form issued by your employer. It contains your earnings statement and a record of how much tax has been withheld from your monthly paychecks.

When do employers send W2s? Federal law requires employers to send W2 forms out to their employees by the 31st of January each year. This means you have to wait until your employer sends it before you can file your tax return. If you file without all of your W2 forms, it could delay the processing of your return – and the arrival of any tax refund you are entitled to.

Make sure you check your mailbox and email inbox during the first few weeks of February. If your W2 form still hasn’t arrived, contact your employer. If that fails, you can contact the IRS directly. Then you can either file without your W2 or request a filing extension. Either way, you still have to pay the tax you owe by the tax deadline.

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