How to Get Your W-2 Form From Social Security

You can obtain W-2s from as far back as 1978.
Image Credit: Ryan Fox/iStock/Getty Images

While there are more convenient ways to get a copy of your latest Form W-2 or a copy of a W-2 from a previous tax year, you can get one from the Social Security Administration following a few simple directions. If you're using the W-2 for reasons related to your Social Security benefits, you can get your copy for free. You'll need to pay a fee if you want the form for any other reason. Reviewing how to get a copy of your W-2 from the SSA will help you decide if this is the best way to get the information you need.

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Read More:W-2 Forms: What It Is, Who Gets One & How It Works

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What Is a W-2?

A W-2 is a form that shows what you earned during the year and what types and amounts of taxes were withheld from your pay and submitted to various government agencies. In addition to local, state and federal income taxes, you paid Social Security and Medicare taxes.

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Using the information on your W-2, you can prepare and file your taxes. If you hire someone to do your taxes, they'll need your W-2. If you earned income outside your job and received a 1099, you'll need to use that information to prepare your tax return, as well.

Read More:Form 1040: What You Need to Know

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Contacting the SSA

You can request a copy of a W-2 from the Social Security Administration. The SSA gets W-2s because they contain information regarding employee and employer contributions to Social Security. They will provide copies on request, going back to the tax year ​1978​.

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Read the instructions on the SSA website page titled, "How can I get a copy of my wage and tax statements (Form W-2)?" You'll be asked for the following information:

  • Social Security number
  • Exact name on your Social Security card
  • Any different names that appear on your W-2
  • Your mailing address
  • The year(s) for which you are requesting copies
  • Your daytime phone number
  • The reason you are requesting your W-2

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The last question will determine whether you get your copy for free, or if you'll have to pay a fee (​$90​ in 2022). The page linked above gives examples of requests that aren't related to Social Security information (e.g., establishing residency or entitlement to a private pension).

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You can mail your request with a check, or fill out SSA Form 714 to pay with a credit card, and mail the request to:

  • Social Security Administration
  • Office of Central Operations
  • Office of Earnings and International Operations
  • Division of Earnings and Business Services
  • P.O. Box 33003
  • Baltimore, MD 21290-3003

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Read More:E-Filing: How to File Your Taxes Electronically, IRS Free File & More

Contacting the IRS

If you aren't working on Social Security-related matters and would like a cheaper copy of your W-2, you can contact the IRS. Visit the IRS website page, "About Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return."

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Read the instructions for how to get your W-2 form, download Form 4506 and follow the directions. This process involves snail mail and it can take you ​10 days​ to more than a month to get your W-2 as part of your overall tax return (which is what you are requesting when you submit Form 4506). You pay ​$43​ for this option.

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If you need this year's W-2, it might not be available until June or July. Whether you e-filed and if you have tax owed will also affect your ability to get your return quickly, according to the IRS website. Make sure you request a full tax return, not just a transcript, which is a summary of the key numbers from your return.

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Contacting Your Employer

The quickest way to get your W-2 is usually to contact your employer or previous employer. If your company has an employee intranet, you might be able to find your W-2 there, searching for links to benefits or human resources. You can call, write, email or stop by the HR office to get your W-2.

You might need to provide your name as it appears on the W-2, employee ID number, Social Security number and/or street address where you lived when the employer generated the W-2.

Using a Third-Party Provider

Some commercial payroll and tax preparation services have copies of employee W-2s and make them available to the public, free of charge. This is true even if you didn't use those services to prepare and file your taxes.

You can do an online search for, "find my W-2 online," or do a site search at the websites of companies like ADP, TurboTax and H&R Block. Have your personal identification information and Social Security number handy.

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