January is the month to be watching the mail for the common income tax forms.  These include the W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, and form 1099-R which is used for distributions from pensions, retirement plans, annuities, and insurance contracts.

Ideally, these forms should be in your hands by January 31st, but employers have until that date to send out the forms.

So, what do you do if the form doesn’t show up?

Missing W-2 form: Call your employer and ask for a new form. The form may have been mailed to the wrong address, or it may have been returned to the employer for some reason.  After you request a new form, give the employer a reasonable amount of time to respond.  Sometimes there may be a small fee to re-send the form.  Employers are required to keep your information for at least four years.

If you do not receive your form by February 14th, contact the IRS. You can reach them at 800-829-1040.  You will need to give them your name, address, city and state, and zip code. They will also ask for your social security number and phone number. 

Additionally, they will ask for the following information, so you need to have it ready when you call:

  • Employer’s name and address, city and state, zip code and phone number
  • The dates you were employed
  • An estimate of how much you earned and how much was withheld.  Use your paystub for this information.

The IRS will contact the issuer of the form and ask for the missing information.  They will also send you a Form 4852, which is a substitute for form W-2 or 1099R.

If your form has an error, you can use the same process.  Call the issuer about the mistake, and if you do not receive a correction, contact the IRS for help.

If the error involves your social security number or your name, notify your employer so a correction can be sent to the IRS. You can still use the W-2 Form to complete your tax return. Just make sure your name and social security number are correct on the return.  Get a corrected form if there is an error in any field other than your name or social security number.

Missing 1099 form: 1099 forms report interest, dividends, brokerage trades, and self-employment income.  You may be able to download documents from a bank’s web site, or you can call customer service to have the form mailed to you.  Your broker will be able to mail documents to report stock trading or other investment activity.  If you earned more than $600 as a consultant or independent contractor, your client must send you a 1099-MISC to report your income.  Forms from brokerage companies can often come late and/or be revised at a late point in time.  This causes frustrations for many taxpayers.