Knowing The Facts: Can I Get My W2 Online For Free?

Chad Silver

Chad Silver

Managing Partner of Silver Tax Group, author of the book "Stop the IRS". Practicing a variety of tax issues, regulations, laws and rights. Specializing exclusively on tax matters involving IRS audits, negotiation, settlements & compromises.

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You’ll face a 5% penalty of your unpaid tax for each month you’re late on filing the returns. Tax documents are due at the end of January, a time when taxpayers ask “can I get my W2 online for free? They strive to get all their tax documents in order, targeting a refund as hefty as possible.

One of the required documents is the W2 form. You can obtain the form from various sources. However, due to the time factor, many taxpayers will want to know “can I get my W2 online for free?”

To get started, let’s look at a few basics.

What’s the W2 Form?

The W2 is one of the many documents you’ll need to have when filing your returns. Both the employer and the employee must fill the form during the tax filing season. The form contains specific information that must be listed including wages earned.

Other crucial information is federal, state, and other taxes withheld from the earnings. The form must be made available to the employee before the end of January each year.

Employers should file W-2 forms with the Social Security Administration (SSA). This is to keep the SSA aware of the employees’ earnings. The form with the previous year’s earnings should reach the SSA by the end of February.

An adequately filled W2 form captures all the necessary information. This includes the employee’ name, SS number, address, and employee ID where applicable. Always check for accuracy, as mistakes could lead to problems with the tax department.

What You Need to Know About Getting Your W-2 Online

As you seek answers to “can I get my W2 online for free,” you’ll realize sometimes it’s not possible. Not every taxpayer can access their W2 form online. This option is only available to employees whose employers use payroll services.

There are, however, services you can use to access your W2 online. They’ll not only import the form but also file your returns faster than you would.

If you aren’t eligible to get the form online, there are other options available.

1. Order from the Social Security Administration

The department can give you copies of your W2 forms, but only for reasons related to your social security. Copies available are for any year from 1978. However, if you need the forms for an unrelated purpose, each request will attract a fee of $86.

Note that your state and local tax data won’t be available if you filed your tax returns electronically. Some non- social security reasons that justify your request include

  • When you want to establish entitlement to private pension benefits
  • Establishing residency
  • Filing tax returns, both state and federal
  • When you need to provide information for workers’ compensation

If you don’t state the reason for your request, the department assumes you need the W2 forms for non-program purposes. When writing to them, ensure you include

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your name as it appears on the Social Security card
  • Any other name as shown on W2
  • Mailing address
  • The date or year for which you need copies
  • Your phone number
  • Reason for request

The request should be accompanied by money order payable to the SSA. Ensure to indicate your SS number on the money order. Alternatively, you can make payment using your credit card by completing Form 714.

2. Request from the IRS

The Internal Revenue Service can issue you with a transcript or copy of your W2, and it’s your taxpayer right. You’ll get either a free tax return transcript of the actual copy of your returns.

The tax transcript incorporates most items from your returns, like AGI. The transcript is available for three prior tax years, and up to the current year. You may want to know “can I get my W2 online for free?”

The answer is that it’s possible. If you request it online, you’ll get it the same day. Requesting it through post takes between five and ten days.

How to Request for Transcript from IRS

If you decide to request the transcript from the IRS, there are three options available. A return transcript shows you all the details of your tax information. Supposing you made any changes to the tax forms, the Financial Aid office will require an Account Transcript.

The first way to request a tax return transcript is to make an online request. Once you get to the IRS website, click on “Get Transcript” under the tools section. This option allows you to access a printable version of the form. You may also click on the mail option to have it delivered to your postal mail.

If you choose the mail option, avoid validation issues.

The second option is to make a telephone request. You’ll be asked to enter your social security number. They’ll also ask for your address, not including the zip code. Choose between the “return transcript” and “account transcript” options.

If your request is successfully validated, you’ll receive a paper IRS Tax Return to the address you indicate. The request will take between five and ten days.

Thirdly, you can make a mail request. Send a “4506-T” form to IRS. You can find it under the “Printable Forms” section of the website. Remember to select the “Return Transcript” option to have them sent to you.

Requesting for Actual Copies

The other option is for you to get the exact copy of your returns. This includes all forms and attachments. The information available is for the previous six tax years, including the current one. An exact copy of your returns will attract a fee of $50.

You can only order for these copies through the mail. It’ll take about 75 days for them to be delivered to make your request early enough. Note that if you’re requesting for your lender, request for a transcript and not a copy.

3. Wage and Income Transcripts

These are available from the IRS free of charge.  You can use the transcript tool on the IRS website to request the transcript. It contains all data reported on the W-2, Forms 1099, 1098, and 5498 series.

Unfortunately, the W-2 form contains no state and deferral information. You can get transcripts dating back to ten years before, but current information may not be available.

For the wage and income copies, IRS only retains the actual copies of W-2 when attached to paper tax returns. For you to get the real copy of W-2, request using the Form 4506. Each request will cost you $50.

However, you qualify for a waiver if a federally declared disaster has impacted you. Indicate the name of the disaster on top of the form.

Procedure on Filling out the W2 Form

Once you’ve obtained your W2 form, online or otherwise, provide all the requested information. There’s a lot of information required from you, most of which you can get from your payroll register and other records.

For better grasping of the required information, here is its breakdown.

1. Employer Information

The employer should fill this part. This captures the name of the company as it appears on the legal identification documents. You also must indicate your address and zip code. Ensure to capture the Employer Identification Number, which you can obtain from the IRS website.

Your state ID number, acquired through your state website is also required. Finally, capture the control number. This is the one your payroll software assigns the W2 for record-keeping.

2. Employee Information

Indicate the full name as it appears on national identification documents. A current address should also be provided, in addition to the Social Security Number.

3. Compensation Details

This section requires a lot of details. These include the total taxable wages, salaries, reported tips, and bonuses. Besides this figure, there’s also the Medicare wages and tips. This is a figure higher than the previous wages figure because it comprises total taxable compensation.

Be sure to capture the fringe benefits which aren’t subject to regular income tax. Next section is for state wages and tips. These are the total earnings from within a single state.

If you’ve worked in different states over the tax period, you should indicate this. Ensure to itemize the amounts earned from each state.

There’s also a category for local wages, allocated tips, social security tips, and other compensation. The allocated tips apply employees working in a restaurant or other closely similar establishments. The law sets aside a percentage of gross sales to be paid out as tips.

This goes a long way in shielding the workers on slow days and the employer in the tax season. The amount of allocated tips is calculated as a difference between the set percentage and the tips the employee has reported.

The allocated tips section should only be filled if the figure is positive. The section on other compensation refers to sick pay, deferred wages, pension payments, and dependent care benefits.

4. Taxes Withheld Details

Details of how to calculate withheld tax are available in the W2 form. They include the federal income tax, state income tax, and local income tax. The state and local income tax are that withheld from the wages throughout the year.

Other details to capture are the locality name, which is the state or local tax in question. There’s also the social security tax which is usually a 12.4% deduction. Both the employer and employee meet this figure halfway.

The government determines a maximum amount that can be taxed, but the figure changes annually. The last component is the Medicare tax, which is usually 2.9% of total earnings.

Once you’ve filled all the details, counter check to ensure the figures and spellings are correct. Fill your returns well in time to ensure you meet the deadlines. Submit all the required copies in six parts.

The copy marked A goes to the SSA while part B, C. and 2 go to the employee. The copy marked 1 goes to the tax department while the employer retains copy D for four years.

What to Do If You Miss Your W2

There are cases in which an employee may miss their W2 because it’s delivered to the wrong address. If such happens to you, you may wish to find out “can I get my W2 online for free?” if you can, a lost form shouldn’t be a concern.

Once you apply your W2 online, you’ll get a notification on mail once it’s ready for printing. You can download it and print it when you need it. Whether you get the form online or through the mail, the information will be the same. However, the online version has more benefits.

Another issue with your W2 is that the information could be incorrect. In such a case, contact your employer and have the details updated the correct way. If the form has already reached the IRS, they’ll be expecting you to provide the correct version of the information.

If your form fails to reach the IRS in good time, the IRS will want to know why. As such, take care of the details and deadlines.

Can I Get My W2 Online for Free? – Final Thoughts

Filing your tax returns is a process that calls for keenness. There are many documents you need, but one vital one if the W2. Many taxpayers ask “can I get my W2 online for free?”

While it’s possible to do so in some cases sometimes, you’ll source for it through other means. Some options include requesting through the Social Security Administration. Remember this comes at a cost if your request is not related to social security issues.

The other option is to request through the IRS website. Check each request procedure carefully and understand what it’ll cost you in terms of the time factor. Lastly, you could ask for wage and income transcripts.

Once you get your W2 form, cross check to see that the details are well captured. Your name, address, and social security number are of utmost importance.

The form has a lot of intricate details you should fill. Ensure the figures are well captured. Mistakes could cost you dearly in the future.

Do you need the help of a professional tax attorney? Be sure to reach out to us.

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