How to Get Your W-2 from a Previous Employer: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Jul 19, 2023

Are you wondering how to get your W-2 from a previous employer? Look no further! In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process, step by step, to ensure you obtain your W-2 smoothly and efficiently. So, let’s dive right in and learn how to get your W-2 from a previous employer now!

Step 1: Contact Your Former Employer

The first step in obtaining your W-2 is to reach out to your former employer. Start by locating their contact information, such as their phone number or email address. It’s best to contact the human resources department or the payroll department, as they are typically responsible for handling W-2 requests.

When you contact your previous employer, be polite and clearly explain your situation. Provide them with relevant details, such as your full name, social security number, the tax year for the W-2 form you need, and your current contact information. Request that they send you a copy of your W-2 or provide instructions on how to access it electronically.

Step 2: Verify the Deadline

While most employers are required to provide W-2 forms to their employees by January 31st, it’s important to verify the deadline for your specific tax year. If the deadline has passed and you still haven’t received your W-2, remind your former employer about their legal obligation and kindly request immediate assistance.

Step 3: Request a Duplicate W-2 from the IRS

If your attempts to contact your former employer have been unsuccessful, don’t worry. You can still obtain your W-2 by requesting a duplicate copy from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Follow these steps to request your W-2 from the IRS:

  1. Fill out Form 4852: Download and complete Form 4852, which is the Substitute for Form W-2, Wage, and Tax Statement. This form allows you to estimate your income and taxes withheld based on your records.
  2. Gather supporting documents: Collect any documents that can help you estimate your wages and taxes withheld. These may include pay stubs, bank statements, or any other records that show your earnings and deductions during the tax year.
  3. File your taxes: Use the information from Form 4852 to file your tax return. Make sure to explain your situation and attach Form 4852 to your tax return.
  4. Await further instructions: After filing your tax return, the IRS will provide instructions on what to do next. They may contact your former employer on your behalf or provide you with further guidance on how to proceed.

Step 4: Seek Professional Assistance

If you’re still unable to obtain your W-2 after following the previous steps, it may be time to seek professional help. Consider reaching out to a tax professional or an accountant who can guide you through the process and provide expert advice based on your specific circumstances.

Moreover, seeking professional assistance can be particularly advantageous if you face other tax-related challenges or anticipate needing ongoing support with your financial affairs. These experts can provide comprehensive advice and help you stay compliant with tax obligations beyond just retrieving your W-2.

Step 5: Keep Accurate Records

Once you have successfully obtained your W-2, keeping accurate records for future reference is crucial. Your W-2 form contains essential information about your income and taxes withheld, which may be required for various purposes in the future, such as tax filings, financial applications, or audits.

Consider creating a designated folder or digital storage system specifically for your tax-related documents, including your W-2 forms from each tax year. Label each document clearly with the corresponding tax year to ensure easy retrieval when needed.

By maintaining accurate records, you are better equipped to meet your financial obligations, respond to inquiries from tax authorities, and confidently manage your personal finances.


Obtaining your W-2 from a previous employer may seem daunting, but by following this step-by-step guide, you can easily navigate the process. Remember to contact your former employer, verify the deadline, request a duplicate W-2 from the IRS if necessary, seek professional assistance if needed, and keep accurate records. By taking these steps, you’ll have your W-2 in hand and be well-prepared for any financial obligations that require this important document.

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