How to Determine Your Income Tax Return With Your Pay Stubs

The Internal Revenue Service requires employers to send each worker a W-2 form summarizing wages, taxes withheld and other information for the previous year by Jan. 31. If your W-2 does not arrive or is lost and your employer does not replace it by Feb. 14, the IRS says you can use your final pay stub of the year to determine what to report on your tax return. File your return by the deadline, which is usually April 15, to avoid late filing penalties. If delays caused by a missing W-2 or some other problem make this impossible, you can apply for an automatic six-month extension at the IRS website.

Step 1

Obtain IRS Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. The last pay stub you received for the year normally provides year-to-date information, including total wages, other compensation and payroll taxes withheld. Use the information on your final pay stub to complete Form 4852.

Step 2

Prepare your tax return just as you would if you had the W-2 form. Use the information from your last pay stub that you entered on Form 4852 as a substitute for the missing W-2.

Step 3

Sign the 4852 form and attach it to your tax return when you file. Don’t attach the last pay stub. Keep a copy of the 4852 and your last pay stub for your records. Send in payment for any taxes due to avoid penalty and interest charges. If you are due a refund, it may be delayed while the IRS verifies the information on the 4852 form with your employer.

Step 4

Compare the figures from your last pay stub with your W-2 when and if it shows up. If there is a discrepancy and you underpaid your taxes as a result, file an amended tax return and pay the difference. If a discrepancy caused you to overpay, file an amended return to get a refund. Use IRS Form 1040X to file an amended return.