With tax season upon us for another year, you may be anxiously awaiting paperwork from your employer. Your employer should have mailed out your W2 by January 31.
If you haven’t received a W2 yet or there was an error on it, you may be wondering what you can do. Can you file your taxes with your last pay stub?
We put together this guide to answer this question. We’ll look at if you can use your pay stub to file taxes, as well as when and how to file taxes this way.
Can You File Your Taxes with Your Last Pay Stub?
In a word, yes. You can absolutely file your taxes with your last pay stub.
You might be wondering why anyone would need to do this. After all, your employer should send out a W2 form by the end of January. Most people use the W2 to file their taxes.
Using your last pay stub to file your taxes is a helpful option if your employer doesn’t send a W2. This does happen in some cases, such as when an employer declares bankruptcy or closes up shop. If the business has gone under, you may not receive a W2.
Sometimes, a W2 gets lost in the mail. You should be able to ask your employer for a reissue of a lost form, but they may be unwilling or unable to supply one.
Finally, there are sometimes errors in W2 forms sent out by employers. If that’s the case, you need to communicate these errors to the employer. If they won’t issue a corrected form, then you may need to file taxes with a pay stub.
The IRS suggests you can wait until the end of February to receive a W2 from your employer. If you haven’t received one after that time, even after requesting it, the agency encourages you to reach out to them for help.
Sometimes, even getting the IRS involved isn’t enough. You’re still required to file taxes, even without your W2. In that case, you’ll need to use your best estimate, which is often your last pay stub of the year.
Should You Use Your Last Pay Stub to File Taxes?
You should keep in mind that filing taxes with your last pay stub is a last resort. It’s not a good idea to file your taxes using your last pay stub if you just want to get your refund early.
Why? Your last pay stub may not be entirely accurate. It could even be missing some key information, which makes it harder to file an accurate tax return.
This could lead to you needing to file an amended tax return. Preparing an amendment takes time and effort, and it could even cost you extra fees. It’s not worth using an inaccurate pay stub just get to taxes finished early or receive your refund sooner.
Differences between W2s and Pay Stubs
Why would your last pay stub be inaccurate? After all, your employer used a paystub generator, so all your tax withholding and Social Security should be correct for your state.
There are some key differences between pay stubs and W2s, which you need to keep in mind if you have to file taxes with your last pay stub.
Your employer may make adjustments between the pay stub and the W2. The W2 may, for example, include additional tax credits or write-offs that your pay stub doesn’t reflect. In fact, some people may believe there are mistakes in their W2 because it doesn’t perfectly align with their last pay stub.
If you received a W2, you should check it over carefully. You can then ask your employer about any differences you noticed between the form and your pay stub. They should be able to communicate any adjustments that were made.
If there were errors on the W2 or you didn’t receive your W2, then your last pay stub is your next best bet.
How to File Taxes Using Last Pay Stub
If worse comes to worst and you do not receive an accurate W2, then you can use your pay stub to file your taxes. It represents your best estimate of your taxes.
You’ll go about filing your taxes much the same way if you use your pay stub in place of a missing W2. Use the information recorded on the pay stub about your earnings, withholding, and Social Security payments.
You will use a different form to record this information. The IRS provides Form 4852 especially for these situations. It’s intended to be filed with your main tax form in the event you don’t receive a W2.
You’ll need to estimate some of the information that would be included on a W2 but isn’t included on a pay stub.
If you later discover that your information wasn’t accurate, you can file amendments. To make an amendment, you can use Form 1040X.
Accuracy is the top reason to wait for your W2, if at all possible. Using the W2 will give you the most accurate information, preventing extra paperwork and amendments.
Get a Helping Hand
If you don’t receive a W2 even after reaching out to your employer and the IRS, you may need to use your last pay stub. If that’s the case, it might be a good idea to enlist the help of a professional.
A tax accountant, bookkeeper, or another professional can help you. Using their expertise, they may be able to provide more accurate estimates for missing W2 information.
While working with a professional may seem like an extra cost, it could be a smart move. It may save you time, frustration, and even extra fees later on.
Survive Tax Season with Great Advice
You started out asking, “Can you file your taxes with your last pay stub?” Now you know the answer is yes, but this option should only be used as a last resort.
Are you looking for more tips and tricks to help you manage tax season and financial planning? From advice on loans to financial planning apps, we have you covered.