If you want to make sure your tax return is accepted by the IRS and that you get all of the tax deductions for which you qualify, you'll want to make sure all the information you submit with your tax filing matches up with what the IRS has on file for you.
This includes the correct spelling and form of your name (even though you can probably get away with minor variations, such as Bob vs. Robert). Taking a few quick steps to verify your information is correct will help you avoid fines, penalties or late refund payments.
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Consider Also: W-2 Forms: What It Is, Who Gets One & How It Works
What is Form W-2?
When you work as an employee, you'll need to fill out a Form W-4 and receive a Form W-2 in order to handle your tax liabilities. The W-4 is the form you fill out when you start work at a company. It provides your company with the information it needs to report your income and the payroll taxes the company and you are paying during the year.
A W-2 is a report that details the pay you earned and the taxes you paid. It includes the total pay you earned, the deductions taken from your paychecks (such as FICA taxes, federal and state taxes and benefits payments) and the net pay you received. The net pay is what you put in your pocket after deductions.
Consider Also: Form 1040: What You Need to Know
Getting Your Name Correct
What if my W-2 is wrong? It's not enough to get your name close on your income tax forms. For example, if your name is Daniel Jesus Vela and you submit your W-2 as Dan Vela, the IRS system might not recognize your filing as belonging to you, especially if there is other information that is incorrect on your filing, such as your Social Security number being off by one numeral.
You might end up using different names on your 1040 and W-2 or 1099 submissions. Fortunately, the IRS starts with your Social Security number to record and accept your tax filings, but getting your name correct just provides extra security. The IRS FAQ page on this subject provides more information.
If you've been working at your company for years, ask to see the latest copy of your W-2. If you got married and changed your last name, for example, your company might not have updated your records. If you have changed jobs during the year, check to see if the name on both of your W-2s will be the same.
When Do You Receive Your W-2?
Employers are required to send you your W-2 by January 31 of the year after the latest tax year. This helps people file their taxes on time. If you don't receive your W-2 on time, you can contact your employer or former employer, or use an online system to try and get a copy of your W-2. H&R Block, TurboTax and ADP provide online portals that let you search for, find and download your W-2 if your company has submitted the information.