Sometimes there can arise a situation when you suddenly need a copy of your W-2 form; maybe because you are expecting payback from past taxes, facing an audit, or a mortgage company is demanding it for your new house. Apart from that, you may be asked to provide your income proofs to inquire about your tax status, or you are filing for the previous year’s tax return.
Whatever the reason is, having a W-2 copy is a must to operationalize things smoothly. Somehow, if you end up losing your old W-2 for the previous years, the processing can face a halt.
Fortunately, there is still hope. There are ways that you can employ to get a copy of your form. So, don’t go anywhere and take a look at the possible ways to get it back.
Possible ways to get your previous W-2 copy
The process of getting your prior year’s W-2 form is relatively simple. There are four possible ways that you can use.
- Get it from the previous employer.
- Get it from the previous employer’s payroll provider.
- Get it from the IRS.
- Get it from the SSA.
Get your previous W-2 from the previous employer
This is the most straightforward and fastest method if it works. Contact your employer and ask for your previous W-2. The payroll department always saves important tax information, and that also includes the form. Most probably, you will get the copy in no time.
Get your W-2 from the previous employer’s payroll provider
There is a possibility that your employer (or former employer) isn’t directly involved in calculating payrolls and shift all such tasks to the payroll provider. Instead of asking the employer for W-2, ask him for the company’s telephone number that handles it.
Call the company directly and request your W-2 of any previous year and confirm the following details for your W-2.
- Your social security number or employee number.
- Specify the year of W-2.
- Verify your address where your W-2 will be sent.
- Confirm how long would it take.
Get your W-2 transcript from the IRS
If you failed in obtaining your W-2 from your employer, payroll provider, or SSA, request it from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). For your convenience, we explain the detailed process below.
Get your W-2 copy from the SSA
The Social Security Administration (SSA) can provide copies/printouts of the W-2s from 1978 to the present.
If you need it for a social security-related reason, you will get a copy free of cost. However, if you need it for some other reason, such as filing your tax returns, it will cost $37 for each year.
The information obtained from the SSA will only include the earning records for the time period you asked for. It does not have information related to your company’s name.
Request for wage and income transcript
You can order a W-2 transcript by using the “Get Transcript” tool on the IRS website or using Form 4506. The transcript will contain all the Federal tax information, but no local or state tax information will be mentioned.
While filing Form 4506, ensure that you have checked off the boxes titled Form W-2 and have specified the year. Mail or fax the completed form to the IRS.
- The IRS keeps copies of past 7-10 years’ W-2s and other tax documents under your social security number.
- You cannot get your W-2 from the IRS unless one year has passed after you filed.
If you want a copy of the W-2 you submitted while filing your tax returns, you will get it only if you sent it in a paper tax return. You also have to pay $50 for the copy of the entire return.
Complete Form 4506, then request for a copy of a tax return and mail it with the required fee. It may take 75 days to complete the processing. If you filed electronically, you would not be able to get your W-2 copy.
Co-founder of AllAboutCareers, one of the top sites for graduates, students and school leavers websites. I studied at the University of Essex. This is my site I talk about finance and help with administrative processes in the USA.