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Tax Talk with George Saenz

Ask the tax adviser

How to get a W-2 from a company that is out of business

Dear Tax Talk:
How do I obtain a copy of a W-2 form from a company that has gone out business? My W-2 still has not arrived.

Dear Doug:
You should get your Form W-2 by Jan. 31. Of course, if the company you worked for is out of business, your chances of getting that form are probably drastically reduced.

Companies that go out of business are still responsible to provide employees' W-2s. However, they rarely do. This is because the employer may not possess the knowledge to prepare the tax statement itself or doesn't have the money to pay someone to do it.

If you don't get your Form W-2 by Feb. 15, you can call the Internal Revenue Service to get some assistance. I learned this by calling the IRS and listening to its TeleTax Topic 154. TeleTax is a series of recorded tax topics available by calling (800) 829-4477. A list of available topics is provided in the Form 1040 instructions.

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Of course, if you ever tried calling the IRS to get help (other than recorded tax advice) you know it is next to impossible to get through on their lines. I recommend you call early in the morning when you'd rather be sleeping or after 6 p.m. The number is (800) 829-1040.

Prior to calling, you should gather as much information as you can in order to reconstruct your wages and tax withheld. Of course, if your employer gave you pay stubs that showed your gross income and payroll taxes, then you can pretty much rely on this information to come up with your Form W-2.

If your employer was less than thorough when it came to giving you such advice, you're going to have to get more assistance from the IRS. For example, such information can come from your 2000 Form W-2 if it was similar to 2001. Your prior W-2 should also contain an employer identification number that can help the IRS track down the parties that may be responsible for submitting 2001 Forms W-2.

If you have to reconstruct your wages, the IRS may provide you with Form 4852 as a substitute W-2. Form 4852 should also be provided to the Social Security Administration, so you can get credit for FICA tax paid.

-- Posted: Jan. 29, 2002

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See Also
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What to do if you don't get a W-2

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