Paycheck Chronicles

Wait For Your W-2 Before You File


Now that December 2014 Leave and Earnings Statements (LES) have been posted, I know a lot of people are anxious to file their 2014 federal tax returns.  I understand your enthusiasm.  If you're expecting a tax refund, then you probably want it NOW.  However, there are many good reasons to wait until you actually have your W-2 tax statement before you file your taxes.

It's The Rules

According to the IRS, "Authorized IRS e-file Providers are prohibited from submitting electronic returns to the IRS prior to the receipt of all Forms W-2, W-2G, and 1099-R from the taxpayer.

If the taxpayer is unable to secure and provide a correct Form W-2, W-2G, or 1099-R, the return may be electronically filed afterForm 4852, is completed in accordance with the use of that form.  This is the only time information from pay stubs or Leave and Earning Statements (LES) is allowed.

The IRS monitors Authorized IRS e-file Providers for compliance with the Revenue Procedure 2007-40 and IRS e-file rules and requirements.  Monitoring visits will be conducted to investigate complaints and to ensure compliance."

Form 4852 Instructions state: "You should always attempt to get Form W-2 or Form 1099-R from your employer or payer before contacting the IRS or filing Form 4852.  After February 14, you may call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040 if you still have not received Form W-2 or Form 1099-R.  Generally, do not file Form 4852 before April 15th."

from the TaxSlayer website

I know that people DO file without waiting for their W-2, and you can do whatever you want.  However, the IRS says it is not OK.  I see  no reason to try to upset the IRS on purpose, so I suggest waiting until your W-2 is available.

Adjustments Happen

Your December LES doesn't always have accurate information on it, and filing your taxes based upon December LES information can result in the need to file an amended return once you get the actual documents.  This can happen because the December LES is calculated before the end of the month and situations can change before the year ends.  There can also be legitimate errors on the LES, or a wide variety of unusual circumstances.  One year, my husband received TWO amended W-2s before the numbers were right.  Being prepared early just ended up making more work for us in the long run.

Those Other W-2s

Your regular compensation does not always represent all your taxable compensation.  In particular, personally procured moves (PPM), previously known as Do It Yourself (DITY) moves, will generate a special travel W-2, as will any interest earned in a Savings Deposit Program (SDP) account.  These special W-2s will be available via MyPay prior to 31 January 2015.

The Filing Season Isn't Open For Weeks

No matter when you complete your 2014 federal income tax return, the IRS isn't ready to accept tax returns until they have been able to update their computer system for all the last-minute changes to the tax laws.  Experts are predicting that the 2015 filing season will open on 23 January 2015.  Preparing your return early, or even mailing it early, will not make your return come any faster.

I know it is exciting when you are expecting a refund of overpayment of taxes.  I'm excited, too, as we're expecting a refund this year.  However, filing an amended return is a pain, and doing your taxes early isn't going to make your refund come much faster.  Be patient and be confident that everything will be right the first time.


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