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Didn't Get Your W2? Here's What to Do Now!

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Still haven't gotten your 2013 W2? That's a problem. Employers are legally obligated to mail your W2 by Jan. 31 at the latest.

Your W2 contains all the critical information you need to report when you file your taxes, so it's essential that you receive a W2 from anyone you worked for in the last year. If you have not yet received your W2, follow these steps to make sure your taxes are done correctly and filed on time.

Step one: Double check
Everyone has to deal with mail of questionable importance. It's a possibility that your tax forms got lost in the shuffle. Make sure your W2 isn't stuck between catalogs and pizza coupons from last week's mail before taking the next step. If you've moved in the last year, it may take extra time for your W2 to be forwarded to your new address.

Step two: Contact your employer
If you haven't gotten your W2, your first stop needs to be your place of employment. Ask your employer whether your W2 mailed and on what date. It may be that your W2 was lost in the mail or incorrectly addressed. Do not make any assumptions about your employer's intentions; there may have been an honest mistake. If your employer did not mail your W2, make sure they have your correct address on file. Once they have informed you that it is in the mail, wait a week or two for it to appear in your mailbox before continuing to step three.

Step three: Contact the IRS
You should receive your W2 by Feb. 14, but if you haven't, you can call the IRS at (800)829-1040. A representative will need information about you and your employer to find your W2, so be prepared to provide your name, address (including city, state, and zip code), Social Security number, and phone number. You will also need your employer's name and address as well the dates you worked there. Finally, you need to provide an estimate of your wages earned and federal tax withheld, so get out your pay stubs and start counting before getting the IRS on the line.

Step Four: File your return
Taxes are due by Tuesday, April 15. Whether or not you received a W2, by the deadline you are required either to file your tax return or to request an extension. If you contacted your employer and the IRS about your missing W2 by the due date, you can use IRS Form 4852, which is a substitute for the W2. Include this form with your tax return. Make sure you calculate your income and withholdings as accurately as you can. If you file your taxes using Form 4852, it may take longer for your return to be verified, so be patient.

Step Five: Follow up with 1040X
You might belatedly receive your W2 after filing your tax return using Form 4852. If there is a difference between what you reported using Form 4852 and what is on your W2, you can use Form 1040X to register the discrepancy.

Tax season can be stressful, but it doesn't have to be. Understanding what to do when things don't go as planned can help you manage your finances with confidence.

You can access the forms mentioned in this post and find more instructions by going to www.irs.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM -- that's (800)829-3676.

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