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How to Get W-2s Without Going Through the Employer

by Grace Ferguson, studioD

The Internal Revenue Service recommends that you contact your employer first if you are missing W-2s. Verify whether the form was mailed, and if so, to which address. Thereafter, if applicable, give your employer reasonable time to issue another W-2. If you don’t want to go through your employer, you may obtain W-2s directly from the IRS.

W-2 Transcripts

Obtain Form 4506-T from the IRS website to request W-2 transcripts. The transcript is not an actual copy of the W-2; it includes your annual federal taxable wages and withholding tax amounts. It does not, however, include state tax data.

Include the number of years' worth of W-2s that you need on line 9 of the form. You may request up to four years on one form. To get additional years, complete another form. You may request a total of up to 10 years of transcripts from the IRS.

Mail or fax the form to the fax number or address included on page 2 of the form. Apply the fax number or mailing address that matches your state of residence. No fee is required to obtain W-2 transcripts. Allow the IRS up to 45 days to process your request.

Actual W-2 Copies

Retrieve Form 4506 from the IRS website to obtain actual copies of your W-2s. By sending in this form, you will receive copies of your tax returns for the years in question. The tax return includes your W-2, which has applicable state and local tax information.

Include the number of years’ worth of W-2s that you need on line 7 of the form. You may obtain copies of individual tax returns, which are filed on Form 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ, for up to seven years from the filing date.

As of 2013, the fee per tax return is $57. Enclose your total fees with the form and mail to the IRS address stated on page 2 of the form. Allow the IRS up to 60 days to process your request.


  • You may call the IRS directly to request W-2 transcripts, or order them via the IRS website. In the latter case, only the current or previous three years’ transcripts are available. Give the agency five to 10 days to process your request. Do not use this option if you want the transcript sent to a different address than what the IRS has on file for you. Form 4506-T is the correct form to fill out if you need to request to use a different address.
  • If a tax preparer filed your returns, see if she can give you copies of your W-2s.
  • If your employer withheld state and/or local income tax from your paychecks, it must file your W-2 with the state and/or local revenue agency. You might be able to obtain copies of your W-2s from those agencies.

About the Author

Grace Ferguson has been writing professionally since 2009. With 10 years of experience in employee benefits and payroll administration, Ferguson has written extensively on topics relating to employment and finance. A research writer as well, she has been published in The Sage Encyclopedia and Mission Bell Media.

Photo Credits

  • Mario Tama/Getty Images News/Getty Images