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Can you file taxes with your last pay stub and without a W-2?

4 min read

4 min read

If you want to get your tax refund as soon as possible, you probably wonder if you can file taxes with a pay stub and without IRS Form W-2 this tax year.

Some people go online the first week in January and prepare their tax return using the information on their last paycheck stub because they don’t want to wait to receive their W-2 from their employer! The income information is similar, so what gives… Can you file taxes without a W-2 or with a paystub?

“Can I file my taxes with my last check stub?”

pay stub

The devil is in the details here between can and should. Can you use your last check stub to file taxes? In a way, yes, but — only to file a preliminary tax return (more on that below). Your last check stub is not the officially recognized document to file your income tax return, according to the Internal Revenue Service.  That said, the real answer to “Can I file your taxes with my last pay stub?” is “No, you can’t file a return using your last pay stub.”

Last pay stub vs. W-2: What’s the harm?

So, what’s the big difference? Let’s take a closer look. A pay stub, or pay statement, summarizes an employee’s gross pay, tax information and deductions, and net pay. You, as the employee, can use your pay stub to verify important income data like your gross pay, tax withholding, any tax deductions, and net pay. Your pay stub can help you estimate your tax liability and plan your tax filing needs ahead of tax season.

But it falls short of providing what you need to do your taxes.

Your last paycheck stub is not guaranteed to be an accurate statement of your annual earnings, and it could be missing some tax information that you need to file a full income tax return. If you file a return with inaccurate or missing information, you could be required to file an amended tax 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.

Ways to get your W-2

Here’s a little bit of good news. Employers must send Form W-2, an important wage and tax statement that reports your taxable wages and the taxes withheld from your wages to the IRS, to employees 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 (temporarily unavailable) service to see if your employer participates.

Filing using a W-2 is seamless, providing the information you need to file your return. But what if the form is lost or missing? 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.

Filing taxes with your pay stub and Form 4852

If the tax filing deadline is approaching, you’ve contacted your employer and the IRS, and you’re still waiting for your W-2, you can use your pay stub to help fill out IRS Form 4852: Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. You’ll enter an estimate of your wages and tax withholding which is usually found on your final pay stub for the year. You must also notify the IRS and explain your efforts to obtain your late W-2. Then, attach Form 4582 to your tax return.

Get help filing your taxes with H&R Block

We know that filing income taxes can be overwhelming, especially if you’re missing or waiting on important forms. For this reason, we’re here to help you along the process.

Whether you choose to file with a tax pro or file with H&R Block Online, you can rest assured that we’ll get you the biggest refund possible to keep that hard-earned income in your pockets!

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