Before you file your 2020 tax return, you should make sure you have all the needed documents including all your Form W-2s. You should receive a Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, from each of your employers. Employers had until Jan. 31 to send you a 2020 Form W-2 earnings statement.

If your name, Social Security number, or any dollar amount is incorrect, ask your employer to issue you a corrected W-2, which will be labeled W-2c. Form W-2c typically reports information in two columns: "previously reported" and "correct information." You will need to make sure that the information from the "correct information" column is what is ultimately reported as your W-2 information. If you haven't received your W-2, follow these four steps:

Contact your employer. If you have not received your W-2, contact your employer to inquire if and when the W-2 was mailed. If it was mailed, it may have been returned to the employer because of an incorrect or incomplete address. After contacting the employer, allow a reasonable amount of time for them to resend or to issue the W-2. If your employer went out of business, it's possible that your W-2 was not mailed. You may contact the U.S. Postal Service and complete a form to request the employer's forwarding address.

Contact the IRS. If you did not receive your W-2 by Feb. 14, contact the IRS for assistance at 800-829-1040. When you call, provide your name, address, city, state and ZIP code, Social Security number, telephone number and have the following information:

  • Employer's name, address, city and state and phone number
  • Dates of employment
  • An estimate of wages you earned and the Federal tax withheld. The estimate can be based on your year-to-date information.

File your return. You still must file your return or request an extension to file by April 15, 2021, even if you do not receive your Form W-2. You may use Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. Find your last pay-stub. You'll need the information shown there; wages, Social Security and Medicare taxes paid, Federal, state and local taxes withheld, to recreate your missing W-2. You cannot e-file your return if you use a substitute W-2. There may be a delay in any refund due while the information is being verified.

File a Form 1040X. On occasion, you may receive your missing W-2 after you filed your return using IRS Form 4852, and the information may be different from what you reported on your return. It this happens, you must amend your return by filing a Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Forms and instructions are available at or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Barry Lisak is an IRS Enrolled Agent, meaning that he has passed special U.S. Treasury Department exams that qualify him to represent clients dealing with audits or tax-resolution cases. Any questions can be directed to him at (516) TAX-SAVE, or

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