How to Figure Out W-2 Numbers From a Last Paycheck

by K.A. Francis ; Updated March 15, 2018

A W-2 is a vital document needed to file your income tax return. The Internal Revenue Service requires your employer to send you this document by a specified date. If you don't receive your W-2 or you need information from the form before your employer sends it, you can create a W-2 based on your last paycheck for the year.

Why Would You Convert a Pay Stub to a W-2?

One reason you might need to use a pay stub to make a W-2 is if you didn't receive your W-2 from your employer. According to the IRS, employers have until January 31 to send a W-2 to employees. If your employer mails the W-2, you probably won't receive your form until early February.

But what if you need your tax information for a reason other than filing your tax return? For example, your car dies and you want to buy a new one and the lender requests your income for the previous year? Or you put in an offer on a house but the lender requests the last three years' proof of income? In these instances, you can use your last pay stub to create a W-2 to provide to lenders.

If the middle of February rolls around and you still don't have your W-2, call your employer and ask if the forms were sent out. If the employer says no, or says yes but you still haven't received it and they refuse to reissue another form, call the IRS and let the agency know of the issues with your W-2. After making the call, you can file your taxes with IRS Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement.

How to Fill Out Form 4852

The form requests the information found on a regular W-2, as well as some additional questions. The first information you'll provide is your name; be sure it matches the name you gave your employer because that is what appears on the W-2. You'll then provide your address, Social Security number, and attest to the fact that you contacted the IRS to let it know you are filing the substitute form using the totals from your last pay stub. On the next lines, provide your employer's name, address and identification number if you know it.

The next section asks for your earnings and withholdings. Use the "Year-to-date" figures on your pay stub to provide information about:

  • Wages, salary and tips
  • Wages for Social Security
  • Wages and tips for Medicare
  • Tips for Social Security
  • Federal income tax withheld
  • State income tax withheld (and the name of the state)
  • Local income tax withheld
  • Social Security tax withheld
  • Medicare tax withheld

The next question asks how you calculated the amounts you provided in the above question. A simple sentence such as, "I used the Year-to-date" amount provided on the last pay stub for the year," is sufficient. The final question asks how you attempted to get a duplicate W-2. State how you went about getting a duplicate and why you weren't successful. Be as specific as possible when stating your approach. If you are going to efile your return, keep a copy of the form for your records. If you mail in a return, include a copy of the form with your tax return.


  • Do not skip calling your employer before calling the IRS and filing Form 4852. The IRS will follow up with your employer if it receives this form and if the employer has no record of you calling and alerting it to the issue, it could be problematic for you.

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About the Author

K.A. Francis is a freelance writer with over 20 years experience, and a small business consultant and jewelry designer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and business administration and a Master of Arts in Adult Education. She has written for "The Einkwell," "Windsor Parent," MomsOnline, Writer's Stew, Lighthouse Venture Group and others. Her jewelry design company, KAF Creations, has been in operation since 1998.

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