Monday Mishap: I Prepared My Tax Return With My Last Pay Stub, not a W-2
“I really wanted to get my refund as soon as possible, so I went online the first week in January and prepared my tax return using the information on my last paycheck stub. It just takes too long to get my W-2! And the information is usually the same anyway. Is this bad?”
Yes. In fact, doing that is a violation of IRS regulations and can delay your refund.
Your last paycheck stub is not guaranteed to be an accurate statement of your annual earnings, and it could be missing some information that you need to file a full tax return. If you file a return that has inaccurate or missing information, you could be required to file an amended return. That could cost you more in tax preparation fees and could increase the amount of time it takes for the IRS to issue a refund.
Here’s a little bit of good news. Employers are required to mail Form W-2 by January 31. However, many employers now provide electronic W-2s that can be accessed earlier in the month. You could also check out H&R Block’s W-2 Early Access program to see if your employer participates.
If you are worried that your W-2 is missing, we have more tips on contacting your employer, or the IRS, to get the information you need.