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Need W-2 from Defunct Company

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When a company goes out of business it has a number of responsibilities towards its employees regardless of how large or small it was.  One of the major responsibilities the company has is to insure that the tax information, tax insurance, tax witholdings, and tax activities are done spot on properly.  This means making payments on time, making filings on time and making sure that W-2 deliveries happen on time.  Unfortunately a company becoming defunct puts a lot of following up responsibility and diligence onto the individual employees.  This is because of the former owners likely distancing themselves from the former company or because there is likely great chaos ongoing due to the demise of the company.  Several people and some experts detail the steps they took or should be taken to hunt down the owners or the existing trustee and or accounting unit functioning for the defunct company.  Apparently, in their minds or experience that this is want one needs to do before filing a complaint with the IRS.  Some of the detailed instructions had the employee finding out what bankruptcy chapter the company filed, getting certain pages of the company’s bankruptcy filing to identify the company owners and any references to the company’s accounting offices, then making calls and writing letters to several of these people and departments as a part of due diligence in seeking one’s W-2.  Many, many others disagree, however, in doing all of this run around for a form that the company is required to do by the IRS.  In their minds, and in their experience, they believe that contacting the IRS as soon as the W-2 is late is the right way and the expedient way to go.  Given most people keep their paystubs, when the W-2 is late, the [former] employee can petition the IRS to also use objective evidence of W-2 information from a non-W2 source, such as the payment stubs.  Many people who dealt with the IRS in situations like this said that the IRS was very helpful and took on the missing W-2 situation after the employee filed the missing W-2 complaint.  The IRS was said to even assist the employee in tracking down the missing W-2 or helping the employee file for the use of an alternate W-2 information source, again, like one’s paystub.  Current IRS rules state that the W-2 is late if not received by Feb. 15th, so one must wait at least until then.  Regardless of which way a person individually feels is the proper way to go on about getting the proper W-2 information, the employee is ultimately responsible to the IRS for getting that information correctly into and attached to the person’s tax filing for that year.  Even if it takes filing for an extension and paying estimated taxes in the meantime, the employee must still be diligent in his or her own tax preparations, providing correct information and informing the IRS when an unusual or inhibitive situation arises.  The IRS has no sense of humor as far is popularly known, but does express a sense of fair play when an employee has to deal with such an unusual situation.


This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. The Law Dictionary is not a law firm, and this page does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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