As tax season approaches, the hunt for missing W-2s or 1099s can be a source of stress. If you're missing that crucial tax document, here's what you should do:
- Check with your employer/payer: Employers and retirement plan administrators have until January 31st to mail out W-2s and 1099-Rs. If yours hasn't arrived, it might still be on the way. Contact your current or former employer to inquire about when you can expect your W-2. Sometimes, they may be distributing them in person, or there could be an address issue that needs correction.
- Online payroll system: If your employer offers an online payroll system, log in to see if your W-2 is available for download. If not, it may still be in the processing stage.
- Contact the IRS: If the W-2 or 1099 has not been made available to you by the end of February, contact the IRS by calling 1-800-829-1040. You will need to provide your name, address, phone number, social security number, dates of employment, employer’s name, employer’s address and phone number. The IRS will contact the employer for you.
- File an extension: If you need more time, consider filing a tax extension. An extension grants an extra six months to get your documents in order. If you expect a refund, this extension is free, but if you owe taxes, you'll need to pay your estimated tax bill along with it.
- Estimate the income from missing W-2s or 1099-Rs: After you contact the IRS, they will send you Form 4852. This form is used as a substitute for W-2s or 1099-Rs. This is the last resort for these forms. You should find your end of year (or final) pay stub or distribution statement to find year-to-date earnings, and income tax withheld. You will need to mail your return if you use Form 4852.
- Amending your return: If you file your return using Form 4852 to estimate income, you will need to amend your return if the actual forms are received later.
Self-employed individuals and landlords can likely file their returns without receiving all the Forms 1099-NEC or 1099-MISC. However, if you are unsure about your total gross income from your business or rental, it may be worth waiting until all 1099 forms have been received. Missing 1099-NEC or 1099-MISC forms should never delay filing your return. Business owners and landlords should maintain accurate records that would let them know their income and expenses without the forms.
Waiting for documents can be frustrating, but Form W-2, and some 1099 documents are critical to have before you file your return to document your taxes withheld and other necessary income information. Filing with estimates for these forms can delay processing your return, result in letters from the IRS, or having to amend your return. Business owners and landlords may find their 1099-MISCs and 1099-NECs useful, but if these taxpayers keep complete accounting records, they should not really need Forms 1099-MISC or 1099-NEC to file an accurate return.