My employer didn't send me W-2 for December 2015. In fact, he told me that I wasn't on payroll for the two months(Dec/Jan) I worked for them so I am not sure whether he will be able to generate W-2 for me or not. I am wondering should I call IRS and inform them about the same, and probably they will call the employer? Or should I report my December 2015 earnings as Miscellaneous and report to IRS while filing taxes? Or what other options do I have? I am a non resident alien on F-1 Visa. My employer also has not paid me full salary as promised, which I am discussing with him.

Also, I got paid by check in January month for my December payment, so I am wondering does this apply for 2015 tax filing as I got paid in January 2016?

  • 1
    Were you paid as an employee or as an independent contractor? Did you sign an employment contract of some kind? What does it say?
    – BrenBarn
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 5:31
  • @BrenBarn I was a full time employee. I signed a contract which says that I will be paid X amount of salary per month.
    – John
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 6:13
  • Are you saying that you didn't receive your first check from your employer until January 2016?
    – Ben Miller
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 6:15
  • I did receive check for December on January 05.
    – John
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 6:17
  • @John Was the check you got on January 5 the first check you got from the employer? Was the check dated January 5?
    – Ben Miller
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 6:20

3 Answers 3


You need to determine 2 things: did you get paid in 2015? and what type of employment do you have?

Did you get paid in 2015?

You stated in the comments that your first paycheck from this employer was dated January 5th 2016. So the answer is no you didn't get paid in 2015. For most taxpayers the date of the check determines the year it falls under.

That means for you and this employer, your income falls under 2016. That means that you will settle your taxes for this income in April 2017. Your employer will report this income via a 1099 or W-2 in January 2017.

what type of employment do you have?

In some situations it is hard to tell what type of employment you are under. It is important to determine your situation.

If you are getting benefits such has health insurance, vacation, sick leave, or holiday pay then you are an employee.

Did you fill out a Federal W-4, and depending on your state there could have been a state version of the W-4? The W-4 would have asked your marital status, and the number of exemptions you were claiming. The W-4 is to tell Human Resources (HR) or the accounting department to withhold federal and state income taxes. If you did fill one out you are an employee.

If your aren't receiving benefits, and there was no W-4 completed then they are probably treating you as a contractor.

W-2 or 1099?

If you are not an employee then you are considered a contractor. In either case your income will be reported to the IRS. Employees via the W-2, contractors via the 1099 in January of the next year. You will be sent a copy for your tax records.

In many states your employer is supposed to provide you with a pay stub. In many cases this stub is sent electronically to an email address you provide, or it is available on a third party site. Check with your company HR to see where the stub is. The presence of the stub and withholding for taxes and social security will mean that you can be sure there will be a W-2 in January 2017.

The issue for you is that if you are a contractor they will not be withholding taxes for the IRS, or the state taxing authority; they will also not be withholding for social security.

If you wait to determine your status then in the spring of 2017 your taxes could get very complex and expensive. Once you determine the situation consult a tax adviser for how to proceed.


Individual taxpayers normally use the "cash method" of determining when to report income, under which you count it when it is actually received (i.e. when the check is written and made available to you). See https://www.irs.gov/publications/p334/ch02.html.

Since you didn't receive a paycheck for this job until January 2016, you have no income from this job for the 2015 tax year. You should not include it in your 2015 tax return. It should appear on your W-2 for 2016.

  • Do you think he would be able to generate W-2 for 2016 since I wasn't on Payroll ?
    – John
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 6:33

Your income is taxable in the year it was paid to you, not the year that you earned it. Therefore, if you didn't get any paychecks from the employer in 2015, you will not be getting a 2015 W-2 from them, and you will not need to declare any income from them on your 2015 tax return.

  • Could you tell me how would I report my salary in 2016 since I only have two checks on my name? Under Miscellaneous section?
    – John
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 7:48
  • It doesn't go on your 2015 tax forms at all. You should get a W2 or 1099 sometime in January 2017, which you'll use for your 2016 tax return. Until then you don't have to worry about it, unless it's 1099 income and you have to file estimated taxes.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 18:15

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