Things can get a little overwhelming towards the end of January. You begin to see everyone able to file their taxes. You’re still waiting for your W-2. You know you’re getting a refund and you want to file your return, but it’s something you can’t do until you receive your annual wage statements. (W-2’s).

In an effort to combat fraud, The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015, was passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in December. The act revises the filing deadline for Form W-2 and certain types of Form 1099.

What’s Changing?

Until now, employers had two dates to keep in mind when remitting W-2’s:

  • January 31, to provide employee copies, and
  • February 28, for paper filings submitted to the Social Security Administration (March 31 for electronic filings)

Beginning with 2016 forms, employers will now have one filing deadline for all Federal W-2s, January 31. This is true for both employee and agency copies, or whether filing paper or electronic returns.

What about Form 1099-Misc? The new January 31 deadline applies to certain types of 1099s. If you’re filing Form 1099-Misc and reporting amounts in Box 7: Nonemployee Compensation, then you will need to meet the new filing deadline of January 31.

If you don’t have amounts in Box 7, then the deadline remains February 28 for paper filings or March 31 for electronic filings.

Impact for Employers


With this new deadline, it’s important that employers be well prepared to complete year-end tasks. This means:

  • Verifying the accuracy of employee information
  • Reporting/submitting any year-end adjustments as soon as possible
  • Reviewing year-end totals for any discrepancies

If you need to make corrections after sending your file to the Social Security Administration, you can do so by filing Form W-2c, Corrected Wage and Tax Statement.

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.
  • Contact the IRS If you do not receive your W-2 by February 14th, contact the IRS for assistance at 800-829-1040. When you call, you must provide your name, address, city, and state, including zip code, Social Security number, phone number and have the following information:
  • Employer’s name, address, city, and state, including zip code and phone number
  • Dates of employment
  • An estimate of the wages you earned, the federal income tax withheld, and when you worked for that employer during 2019. The estimate should be based on year-to-date information from your final pay stub or leave-and-earnings statement, if possible.
  • File your return You still must file your tax return or request an extension to file April 15, even if you do not receive your Form W-2. If you have not received your Form W-2 by the due date, and have completed steps 1 and 2, you may use Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. Attach Form 4852 to the return, estimating income and withholding taxes as accurately as possible. There may be a delay in any refund due while the information is verified.
  • File a Form 1040X On occasion, you may receive your missing W-2 after you filed your return using Form 4852, and the information may be different from what you reported on your return. If this happens, you must amend your return by filing a Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Form 4852, Form 1040X, and instructions are available at http://www.irs.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

What If You Lost Your Job and Your Employer Went Bankrupt in the previous year?

Your employer must provide you with a Form W-2 showing your wages and withholding’s for the year by January 31, 2020. For example, if you were employed during 2019, your employer should provide you with a W-2 for 2019 by Jan. 31, 2020. You should keep up-to-date records or pay stubs until you receive your Form W-2. If your employer or its representatives fail to provide you with a Form W-2, contact the IRS and they can help by providing you with a substitute Form W-2. If your employer is liquidating your 401(k) plan, you have 60 days to roll it over to another qualified retirement plan or IRA.

Internal Revenue Service recommends taking specific steps to get the original form or a substitute. If you need W-2s for prior tax years, you can get them directly from the IRS.

Contact Your Employer or It’s Representatives

When an employer goes bankrupt, the company might be liquidated — in which case, operations stop and employees are most likely to be laid off — or it might keep operating under the bankruptcy court’s protection. If either situation applies to you and you do not receive your Form W-2 by Jan. 31, contact your employer for the form. If necessary, contact the bankruptcy court for the appropriate federal judicial district to see if an attorney is assigned to your employer’s case. If so, the attorney should be able to provide you with a W-2.

Obtain Prior Year W-2 Transcripts From the IRS

If you do not receive your W-2 by Feb. 15, call the IRS and explain that your employer is in bankruptcy or the company has folded. The agency will investigate the issue with your employer. It will also send you a substitute for Form W-2 — a Form 4852 — for you to file your tax return in case you do not receive a W-2 from your employer before the filing deadline. If applicable, complete Form 4852 using your last pay stubs for the year. Attach the form to your completed tax return and send the documents to the IRS. Forward a copy of Form 4852 to your local Social Security Administration office as well so you’re credited for any Social Security and Medicare taxes that you paid.

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