Small Business Brief


This Is How to File Taxes With Your Last Pay Stub

Just over 93 million Americans are going to file taxes this year.

If you’re one of them, you know how stressful it can be. You want to make sure that you have all of your documents ready to go so you know how much you’ll get as a refund (or owe to the IRS).

You may have one document missing, which is your W-2 form from your employer. You could still file taxes without one, as long as you have your last paystub.

Read on to find out how to file taxes with your last pay stub.

Get All of Your Forms Together

You still have to file taxes, even if you don’t have your W-2 form. You’ll want to gather all of your tax-related documents, including your last paystub.

If you paid for student loan interest during the year, you’ll need Form 1098-E. You’ll need other forms sent by your bank if you collected interest on accounts that you earned.

Know the Difference Between a W-2 and Your Last Paystub

What’s the difference between a W-2 form and your last paystub? They both have the same information.

Both forms will have your earnings, tax withholdings, and other contributions made during the year. A W-2 form is an official form that the IRS uses to reconcile your earnings and deductions with what your employer sent.

The numbers on your W-2 and your employer’s information should match. If they don’t, the IRS would flag either your tax return or your employer’s information for further review.  

Employers are required to fill out a W-2 form and make six copies of the form for each employee they paid wages to during the year.

Three of those copies are yours. You keep one copy for your records, one goes to the IRS with your tax return, and the other goes to your state.

Your employer sends one copy to the IRS, another to the Social Security Administration, and they keep one copy for their records. These forms need to be submitted by January 31.

There isn’t a minimum threshold, so even if you made $100, the employer has to report the income and withholdings. The only exception is if you were an independent contractor. In that case, an employer would send a 1099-MISC form.

Show That You Tried to Get a W-2 Form

The IRS isn’t just going to allow you to file taxes without a W-2. You have to show that you make a concerted effort to get the form from your employer. This includes calling your employer, documenting the date, time, and response.

You’ll also want to send written letters to your employer for backup.

Ask the IRS for Help

If you have tried to get your W-2 form from your employer and you have documented these attempts, you should escalate the issue to the IRS.

You can contact them and explain that you didn’t receive a W-2 form from your employer and you tried several times to get it. Your employer may have sent your W-2 information to the IRS (they’re required to do so by law), even though they didn’t forward a copy to you.

If the IRS can assist you, they’ll send you a copy of the W-2. If they cannot, you can still file taxes, you’ll need to fill out Form 4852.

Fill Out Your Tax Forms

You’ll fill out your 1040 form just like you would with your W-2. You’ll need the information from your last paystub to complete it.

If you don’t have your last paystub, you can use a free paystub maker to create one. Be sure to fill out the information as accurately as you can. 

Take All of Your Deductions

As you fill out your 1040 form, you want to make sure that you take all of the deductions that you’re entitled to.

The big deduction is the standard deduction, which is $12,400 in 2020 for single filers. If you’re late filing your 2019 taxes, the deduction is $12,200.

You may be entitled to other deductions if you paid student loan interest, health care costs, or property taxes.

Filing Without a W-2 Form

Don’t forget that this tax season, you’ll have one more form to fill out aside from Form 1040. You’ll need to get your last paystub and enter the information on it, such as wages and taxes withheld during the year. You’ll want to include a copy of your last paystub and send it to the IRS along with your tax return.

The IRS will want to know why you didn’t include a W-2 with your tax return. On line 10 of Form 4852, the IRS asks what you did to obtain the W-2 form.

This is where you will provide all of the information you documented to try to get the W-2. You’ll note the attempts to contact your employer and the response.

You’ll also document that you contacted the IRS (note the date and agent name and ID number) for assistance. The more documentation that you can provide to the IRS on the matter, the more likely they’ll be able to accept your tax return with your last paystub.

How to File Taxes With Your Last Pay Stub

There are times when you need to file taxes, but you don’t have a W-2 form. Learning how to file taxes with your last pay stub isn’t difficult. You have to show that you made an effort to get your W-2 from your employer, notify the IRS, and fill out Form 4852.

This will allow you to file your taxes without a W-2, but you don’t want to use this way to file taxes if you don’t have to. Only use the 4852 and your last paystub as a last resort.

Be sure to visit the Templates and Forms section of this site for other forms for employees.