Lost W2? Lost 1099? Unfiled Tax Returns. Here's What To Do

Lost W2? Lost 1099? Unfiled Tax Returns. Here's What To Do

The IRS charges failure to file and failure to pay penalties plus interest if you don’t file your tax return and pay what you owe by the April deadline. But if you lost your W2 or 1099, it can be difficult to file an accurate return or know how much tax to pay.

Here are the answers to the most common questions about what to do if you lost your W2 or 1099 and you need to file your tax return.

How Do I Get a Copy of My W2 or 1099?

The first thing to remember is that lost W2s and 1099s aren’t gone forever. There are a number of ways to get a copy in order to file your tax return.

Contact Your Employer for Your W2 or Client/Payer for Your 1099

The easiest way to recover a lost W2 is to contact your employer (or previous employer) and have them send you another copy. For lost 1099s, you can contact the client or payer that initially sent it.

That said, if the company is no longer in business or you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to them for whatever reason, there are several alternative methods to recover your lost W2 or lost 1099.

Call the IRS to Have Them Contact Your Employer or Client/Payer

If you’re having trouble reaching an employer or client about a missing W2 or 1099, or you prefer not to speak with them directly, you can call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to ask for them do it on your behalf. The IRS will contact your employer or client to request the W2 or 1099 in question. Note that like most dealings with the IRS, this process tends to take much longer than calling the employer or client directly.

Schedule an Appointment With an IRS Representative at a Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC)

If you want the IRS to get your lost W2 or 1099 for you but wish to speed up the process, you can schedule an in-person appointment at your local Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC). At your local TAC you’ll meet with an IRS representative who can help obtain copies of your missing W2 or 1099 forms on your behalf.

Request a Copy of Your W2 From the Social Security Administration

The Social Security Administration (SSA) can also send you copies of any W2 form you’ve been issued since 1978. The only catch is that SSA will only do it for free if you need the W2 for a Social Security-related reason. Otherwise, the fee is $90.

Get Your W2 or 1099 Wage and Income Transcript Online From the IRS

A quick way to get your lost W2 or 1099 information is to use the IRS Get Transcript online to view your Wage and Income Transcript. This costs nothing. W2 and 1099 transcripts are available from the IRS online for the past 10 tax years (current tax year plus nine prior years). Keep in mind that the transcript you receive from the IRS will only contain information relevant to your federal taxes.

Use IRS Form 4852 as a Substitute for Your W2

If your missing W2 hasn’t arrived by the filing deadline — or your employer never issued it in the first place — you can use IRS Form 4852 as a substitute. On this form you can estimate your income and how much you had withheld throughout the year. If the real numbers turn out different, your tax liability may get adjusted later.

Do I Still Need to File Taxes On Time If I Lost My W2 or 1099?

Yes. Except in rare circumstances, the IRS will not waive late filing or late payment penalties because of a lost W2 or 1099.

Should I Request an Extension to File My Tax Return if I Lost My W2 or 1099?

You should first try to get a copy of your lost W2 or 1099 before the tax deadline using the methods described above. If you must request an extension as a last resort, you still need to estimate and pay the taxes you think you owe by the deadline, as an extension only gives you six extra months to file. Your taxes are still due by the original tax deadline, and penalties and interest will be added to your tax liability if you pay late.

Do I Still Need to Pay Taxes On Time If I Lost My W2 or 1099?

Absolutely. A nonpayment or underpayment of taxes you owe the IRS will result in penalties and interest. The IRS won’t waive these additional charges because you lost your W2 or 1099. If you cannot pay your taxes, you can always apply for the IRS Fresh Start Program to see if you qualify for tax relief.

How Do I Figure Out How Much I Owe the IRS If I Lost My W2 or 1099?

There are several ways to figure out how much you owe in taxes, even if you’re missing your W2 or 1099. These include:

  • Going through your bank statements and adding up all work-related deposits for the year.
  • Going through your invoices or receipts if you’re self-employed or a business owner.
  • Ordering an IRS transcript.

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