Bankrupt Without W-2

Today TaxMama hears from Andrew in TaxQuips forum, with this problem. “I worked for a company that went bankrupt; now I’m not getting a W-2. I didn’t keep my final pay stub. I have no way of knowing how much I made while working for the company. What now?”

Dear Andrew,

That’s a real bummer. Just curious, why did you not keep your final paystub?
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It seems to me, even as a teenager, I had the good sense to hang on to things like that to make sure the company produced the correct information on that year-end W-2. (Of course, things were done manually then, so there was more room for error, back in the dark ages.)

First thing to do? Contact the Bankruptcy court and see if they have any information for you. When a company files bankruptcy, the court assigns a trustee. They may have records. If they do, that will save you time and money.

If they don’t, then, it’s going to cost you to reconstruct your income.

If you have any paperwork showing your hourly rate, that would be nice.
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Do you have any idea how many hours you worked each week?
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Sit down with a calendar and try to reconstruct your hours worked each week. If you had overtime, or were apt to have had overtime, put it down. Do your best. We know it probably won’t be accurate.
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But try.

Do you have a copy of your W-4, showing how many exemptions you claimed. If not, perhaps you can remember. Did you claim a lot so you wouldn’t have much withheld? Or did you claim just 1 for yourself?

Go to a good, local tax professional. Bring copies of your
bank statements showing your deposits. (You DID deposit the checks didn’t you? If you cashed them instead, it’s going to be really hard to prove your case!) Bring all the things you prepared.

S/he will help you recompute your payroll and create a substitute W-2 form for you – for IRS and State, using Form 4852 –

And yes, you do need to report the income. If not, it will catch up with you later, with penalties and interest. After all, your income information was probably reported to your state each quarter, with your Social Security Number.

Keep an eye on this question – or today’s TaxQuip.
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Perhaps someone else has some better ideas.

And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about business expenses and other tax issues, free. Where? Where else? At

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