If you were employed for all or part of the previous tax year, you may begin figuring your taxes right away at the beginning of the year. While you will need your W-2 or a substitute, you can figure out your tax obligation and estimate any returns without either. Knowing how to make these calculations can come in handy in case your employer fails to provide one or it gets lost in the mail.
Estimating Your Tax Returns
To estimate your tax returns, you will need a reliable record of your earnings for the previous year, along with any taxes withheld. W-2 forms are the standard means of recording these figures; however, it is possible to make a reasonable estimate without them. If you have your pay stubs, especially the final pay stub for a job (if you are no longer employed) or the last pay stub for the year (if you are still employed at the same place), the earnings to date and tax deductions to date entries will provide an accurate record of the earnings and tax deductions you should record on your tax returns.
If you do not have your final pay stub, but earned a consistent wage and had consistent deductions throughout the year, you can estimate your income and taxes from a single pay stub. Take the amount of income and multiply it by the number of pay periods you actually worked. For instance, if you worked at a single job for the entire year, were paid weekly and had two weeks vacation each year, take the amount of one pay period and multiply the figure by 50 weeks. You can make the same calculations with your tax deductions.
If you cannot find any pay stubs, then your estimates will be less accurate. However, if you worked at the same job the previous year, you can use the figures you entered on the previous year's tax returns to make a rough estimate. Use the figures from the W-2s from the previous year if you worked at the same job for the entire year. If you worked only for a portion of the year, use the figure from the W-2 as a base. Divide the total income by 50 to obtain an estimate of weekly wages, or by 12 to obtain an estimate of monthly wages. Multiply the estimate by the number of weeks or months you actually worked to obtain your estimated income.
Using any of these methods, you can obtain a reasonably accurate income figure which you can use to estimate your tax obligation while you wait for your W-2 forms to arrive. In the event that you cannot obtain a W-2 or your form has been lost, the estimates you made will be useful in contacting the IRS to request a replacement W-2, or in filing Form 4852 as a substitute for your W-2. You will need to obtain an actual W-2 or Form 4852 to submit an actual tax return and receive your refund check or direct deposit to your bank account.
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