When tax season approaches each year, having the right documents is a must before filing your tax return. With just the click of a button, finding free W-2 forms online from either your company or from the IRS is relatively easy to do.
What Is a W-2 Form?
If you work a salaried or hourly job, but are not a freelance employee or an independent contractor, you will likely receive a W-4 form to fill out with your identifying information when you first start working. Using the information supplied on a W-4 form, employers track wages and the taxes withheld each paycheck for that year and create a W-2 form. You'll get that W-2 from your employer at the beginning of the following year.
A W-2 is known as a Wage and Tax Statement form. It provides information such as an employee's name, address, Social Security number, employer identification number, employee's earnings and any deductions. You do not have to fill out the form – your company supplies all the information on it. When preparing your taxes for that year, you are required to attach a copy of your W-2 form to your tax return.
If you file your taxes by mail, you must include a physical copy of the W-2 form. However, if you are e-filing the return, you can use Free File Fillable Forms from the IRS to print a W-2. The IRS calculates the math on your W-2 form and offers other basic information to guide you through using its blank forms.
How to Get a W-2 Online From the IRS
There are two versions of W-2 forms available online from the IRS. Copy A looks like the W-2 form you get from your employer, except it's red. This form is for informational purposes only and is not scannable. Do not use Copy A to file your taxes. If you do, you may face a penalty.
Scannable W-2 forms are the only W-2s that you can use to file with a tax return. Copy B of W-2 is black and looks much like the one you receive from an employer. You can download it, fill in the appropriate information, print it and use it for its intended purpose.
To order a W-2 form from the IRS, go to the IRS.gov website. Under the agency's Business page, scroll down and enter the number of W-2 forms needed under the columns marked Information Returns with fields for last year and this year. You can order up to 1,000 W-2 forms with instructions included and 25 each of instructions and publications alone. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and hit the Add to Cart button. In the shopping cart summary on the next page, hit the Checkout button and enter the shipping information.
You can also call the IRS at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676) between the hours of 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. in your time zone to request forms. If you're in Hawaii or Alaska, call the agency on Pacific Time.
How to Get a W-2 Online From Your Company
Your employer should send you a W-2 form by January 31 to reflect your income and withholding amounts from the previous year. This is what you'll show when you file your taxes for that year. If you did not get one from your employer by that date, contact that business directly for a copy.
Copies of W-2 forms are also available to taxpayers who use payroll services. Larger tax and payroll companies like H&R Block, TurboTax, and ADP have their own portals for contacting companies to get copies of your W-2. Select your company from the list of employers by name or by the Federal Employer Identification Number. The company then sends your tax preparer the W-2 you requested, and you can pick it up from there.