Get Missing W-2s By Siccing IRS On Your Employer

We finally wrested our W-2 from our previous employer’s hands and all it took was the threat of an IRS fine.

After weeks of broken promises, we grew exasperated with the lack of response and made a quick call to the IRS to let them know our ex-boss was breaking the law. The IRS took down our info and sent a threatening letter to our old employer.

Today, success! The W-2 arrived, along with a lovely apology note.


No, Thank You, Ass-Clown Circus, Incorporated!

Moral of the story: If your employer won’t send you your W-2, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. Then let your old employer know you dropped the dime and if they don’t want to get fined, they better send you the forms. — BEN POPKEN

PREVIOUSLY: Still Missing A W-2? Call The IRS


Edit Your Comment

  1. acambras says:

    I’m all for siccing the IRS on assholes, but I’ve gotta put in my $0.02 from the other side.

    I’ve had a few office manager/administrative assistant jobs. Whenever I was responsible for sending out W-2s, I made sure they were sent out on time. The majority of people who didn’t get their W-2s were people who’d moved and not given us their new address (understandable — when you’re moving, W-2’s are probably not foremost in your thoughts). Most would call in February or March with the new address and I would promptly send them copies — no problem.

    But sometimes I would get a call on APRIL 15th — someone saying that suddenly I need to light a fire under my ass, call our accountant (who’s pretty busy), and fax the W-2s. NOW, DAMMIT.

    So again, if the former employer’s being a jerk and refusing to release the W-2s, by all means sic the IRS on them. But PLEASE make sure you’ve done your part (making sure former employers have your *current* address, and not waiting until April 15th to gather your tax paperwork).

  2. kimsama says:

    Shouldn’t the Office Manager here have better business letter-writing skills? I mean, what is with the capitals gone wild in “Thank You and Have a Nice Day”? Hmm, actually, that’s kinda sassy and I Like It.

    I also had a former employer take a snooze instead of mailing out my W-2. Luckily, all it took was me mentioning that I would have to call the IRS for them to send it out to me overnight.

  3. gertrudeyorkes says:

    The fire was so hot he forgot to use a spellchecker and proper punctuation. Consumerist: scaring people right out of grammatical skills.

  4. shoegazer says:

    I am kinda really glad I live in the UK, where you don’t have to file an individual return if your sole source of income is with a PAYE employer.

  5. No, Thank You, Ass-Clown Circus, Incorporated!

    That’s the best name for a company ever!

  6. shoegazer says:

    Oh yeah, Nice Thumbs Up Pic, Ben.

  7. msevigny says:

    I’m mildly surprised employers aren’t required to file W2s with the IRS along with the employee copy. That’s the way Revenue Canada does it and it’s a lot easier to get copies of your T4 from an employer (especially an ex-employer) as a result, even factoring in the CRA’s slowness.

    On the other hand, the CRA usually won’t go after your ex-employers like that even if you ask really nicely, so I guess the IRS has that element of satisfaction going for it.

  8. RandomHookup says:


    With the writing skills I see these days on resumes, cover letters and other business correspondence, this chick could be a frigging journalist.

    For kicks, I go all editor-y on the geniuses at Wikipedia who use such gems as ‘highschool principle’ and ‘extremely unique’.

  9. Snakeophelia says:

    Forgive my ignorance, but other than things like missing information or addresses, why wouldn’t a company be sending a W-2 out to someone who is asking for it and presumably has supplied all the up-to-date information? Why wouldn’t one phone call straighten things out? I’ve never worked in a financial department, but I’ve seen this happen before and it’s always a mystery to me. It’s not like the deadline changes from year to year.

  10. acambras says:


    Unless something’s changed in the past 10 years, employers do send copies of W-2s to the IRS.

  11. msevigny says:


    Is it then just a matter of the IRS not being willing to fax/mail copies? I’ve always been kind of surprised that Revenue Canada would do it in the first place, especially since they’re so secretive about other information (like balances owing).

  12. John Stracke says:


    I’m mildly surprised employers aren’t required to file W2s with the IRS along with the employee copy.

    That could certainly be done. I suspect the reason it’s not is that it’d cut into revenue for Intuit, H&R Block, and ADP.

    Yes, really. If your employer uses a payroll service such as ADP, tax prep software (or, presumably, large tax prep companies) can fetch your W-2 data from the service. That gives the software a big competitive advantage over doing it yourself, or taking it to a local accountant who’d need your paper forms. So the software companies pay ADP for access to that data. If the IRS made that data available to Intuit, they’d be competing with ADP; if they made it available directly to taxpayers, they’d be competing with Intuit. In the Neocon Age, that’s a good excuse not to do it. The fact that it’s good for corporations, and bad for individuals, is just ignored.

  13. msevigny says:

    @John Stracke:

    Wow, I had no idea the US had systems like that. I work for one of said large tax prep companies right now in Canada and we don’t have anything like that (at least, we don’t have ACCESS to anything like that); in fact, we’re usually the ones sending clients off to Revenue Canada to ask for forms they’ve lost/had mailed to the wrong address.

    Of course, for most of the people filing at these sorts of companies, a T4 is only part of the bargain; we also need forms for EI and welfare, and Revenue Canada are often the only people who can provide extra copies of those forms anyways.

  14. Ben Popken says:

    You can’t get your W-2s from the IRS until after the filing deadline. If my employer ended up not giving me my W-2s, I’d have to file form 4852, and then later in the year the IRS would send me what they got from the employer and reconcile the differences.

  15. acambras says:


    I don’t know about anyone trying to get W-2s straight from the IRS (although I see the hurdles as I read Ben’s post).

    I think the main reasons employers submit that info to the IRS are so that they can (a) make sure individual taxpayers are telling the truth, and (b) go after the people who get a paycheck but don’t file income taxes.

  16. mr_pants says:

    Can you do this if you haven’t gotten your K-1 yet?

  17. HearsMusic says:

    Geez, Ben. You are So. Cute.

    /had to say it.
    /laughed at Ass-Clown Circus, Inc.

  18. Sudonum says:

    I don’t know why W-2’s are such a problem in this area. With my construction company I don’t have any regular employees. I exclusively use sub-contractors. Every year I have to send those subs a 1099. I believe this has to be done by the end of February and copies sent to the IRS. If I fail to complete the 1099’s and have them to the IRS by the deadline then I can get fined.

    If W-2’s are also reported to the IRS, and the deadline, I believe, is Feb 1, then why aren’t there penalties for those being late as well? And if there are, and companies are reporting the information to the IRS by the deadline, but not mailing out the W-2’s, then those people are asshats and deserve everything that’s coming to them.

  19. timmus says:

    Damn, I want to get a job with Ass-Clown Circus, Inc!

    (laughed at it too)

  20. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    Welcome back from vacation, Ben.

    Did OUR girlfriend take US out for dinner?

  21. HykCraft says:

    Yeah.. I never knew that “Have a Nice Day” needs to be in all capital letters. I didn’t know that Have and Nice and Day were all nouns (persons, places, or things).



  22. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @Ben Popken: “No, Thank You, Ass-Clown Circus, Incorporated!”

    Ha, I KNEW I had seen Ben somewhere else before; ACC, Inc!