how to get old w2 form

bellafloraMay 12, 2008

I found out recently (via a debt collection agency-mind you)that I forgot to file the local state tax in 1994 (yes that's 14 years ago!) The original amount was about 100 but now has become 400. I called the state (which I no longer lived in) and they said I would have to find the w2 for 1994 and file it now to show that I didn't owe that amount of tax. I was in college that year so I probably didn't make that much of money back then. I don't keep W2 that far back so do you know where should I go to retrieve an old W2 form? The state supposedly would withhold any back tax before they issue a return but I do not know why they did not do that with my subsequent filing years.

I never even know about the debt because the bill was sent out to my older sister's rental property. I don't know why that address was used because I never ever lived there. The people at the state tax department has no idea because their computer system did not go that far back. Their oldest record is 2005.

Do you think the federal /IRS would have W2 that far back?

Maybe I should just pay the 400. :-)

It just really bugs me - I mean, who'd think to keep w2 that far back?!

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First I'd check to see if they can collect tax from that long ago.

For the W-2, can you contact the company you worked for and see if you can get another copy? But they have no reason to keep records for 14 years, and you might not be able to get it from them.

You can send for a copy of your Federal return. I did this many years ago and they sent a photocopy of the W-2 with it. Well, at least they used to.

I have W-2s from every year I've ever worked starting with 1973. See, I'm not that obsessive. :)

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 9:42AM
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clg: wow - since 1973 (!) I must admit I am not best at record keeping. I moved around a lot (10 places in the past 14 years) so it's hard to keep everything.

I will try to obtain a copy of the federal return. I hope they keep record that far back. :-)

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 9:49AM
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I would have to find the w2 for 1994 and file it now to show that I didn't owe that amount of tax.

I'm a bit puzzled as to why you have to prove that you DON't owe something. Doesn't the debt collection agency have to provide proof that you actually owe the money before dunning you?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 11:06AM
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I don't know how things work in your state, but my understanding about how federal taxes work is that three years after the date your return is (or would have been) due, the matter is closed unless they can prove intentional fraud. So even if it is possible to prove that you should have paid more (or less!), there's nothing to be done if it's for the 2004 tax year or earlier. 2004 taxes are due on April 15, 2005; add three years and you get April 15, 2008, which is in the past.

However, if you pay them any additional money, that restarts the 3-year clock, and then the feds *can* revisit the return.

Now, I don't know that I'm right. However, I'm sure enough that in your shoes, I would not send anyone a cent without first checking with a lawyer or an accountant.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 11:22AM
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I don't believe the 3 year limitation applies to instances of failing to file a return or failing to report all income.
Your employeer may be able to generate a replacement W-2 from archived payroll records, though they may charge a fee for this.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 5:56PM
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I would suggest before you pay anything, contact a lawyer/tax specialist. Collection agencies can and will send anything to a person even if they don't owe the bill. Who turned this information in, and believe me the state would have this information. Pull up a credit report to see what is listed. Something should have shown up by now if you bought anything, filed for a credit card etc. If not just inform the collection agency you have retained a lawyer and he/she is taking care of this. Did you talk to the State Tax office in your states Capital> I cannot imagine not having records before 2005. Someone is not telling the truth. Document every phone call you make-who, when, conversation, date, time etc. Keep a notebook.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 9:52PM
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I called the Virginia state tax department and they said, I filed federal in 94 but not the local (okay-stupid me. I wasn't very financially astute at the time, being in college and new to the tax thing). Therefore, they assumed that I should be filing local tax too. However, the $100 'debt' was written off in 2001 (7 years after), and he can't research past 2005 in the current computer file. Also, I moved to CA in 98 after graduation from college so I haven't filed Virginia tax since then. Somehow, when they recently turned the outstanding debt record to the collection agency, my 'debt' was in there and the agency located me. I just bought a house last year and this wasn't in the credit report, nor was it in my credit report when we bought our previous house in 2001. I just didn't know why I filed all the subsequent years up until 98 when I left the state but they didn't contact me or take the back tax before issuing the refund.

He suggested that I should locate the old w2 form in 94 and see if I was supposed to pay tax. If I did owe tax then I should pay the state. If I don't owe tax then send proof (being the w2 form) and they will forgive the debt.

I would talk to a tax attorney except - the fee is probably more than the 400$ that I supposedly owed. This has been very time consuming dealing w/ the tax department. I have so much going and it's so frustrating dealing w/ the various tax department over 100$ (which I don't even know if I owed) that happened 14 years ago.

The lesson is - file your tax and keep old records.
My mom's advice is to just pay the 400$ and have peace of mind.
Big sis thinks I should pay otherwise I am going to jail for tax evasion. :-(

DH thinks I should not pay. If I go to jail he would have couple days of me not nagging him a/b painting the house. (haha..:-)

Thanks for all the advices.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 7:20AM
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Quick question - did you live in or work in the city that says you owe them money in 1994?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 12:00PM
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Once a year, the Social Security Administration sends everyone an estimate of benefits statement which includes a record of your yearly earnings going back to when you began having FICA withdrawn from your pay. If you happened to have kept one of these statements, just use that as proof of your 1994 earnings.

If you didn't keep any (now why would I think you probably didn't?) then you can ask SS for a new one. This may take some time, so you might want to let the collection agency and the State of Virginia know you're working on it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Reqyest for Social Security Statement

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 12:46PM
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The SSA statement won't show how much she paid in withholding. I wouldn't trust the collection agency to know that number.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 9:09AM
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But it would show how much the OP made. Based on that, the tax people in Virginia should be able to figure out what was withheld because all employers follow a standard withholding schedule, as well as what tax was due, which is also according to a standard schedule. That will tell what, if any, tax is owing.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 9:44AM
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They may be able to calculate how much withholding if she can prove what she had for withholding exemptions and withholding status. However, based on my experience with state income tax returns, the state wants the taxpayer to prove what they had in withholding either with a W-2 or a paycheck stub.

I think your best bet is to get a transcript of your return from the IRS for the year and hope the information you need is there. Personally, I have never seen state withholding on an IRS transcript. But I have no idea what transcripts from 1994 actually look like.

I also must apologize, for some reason I got it in my head that the problem was with a local/city/county income tax and not a state (Virginia) income tax.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 12:41PM
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Contact your local Social Security office. They can get you a "SEQY" record of your earnings (amounts only, not names of employers or dates of work)online immediately or a "DEQY" with more information if you can wait a few days. It is free.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2008 at 7:02PM
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Jannie: Thanks for the information. I will contact the local SS office.

Calling the IRS is a waste of time. Can't get through.
I cannot locate my employer at the time - the business is closed and gone. :-(

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 4:13AM
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