I moved to a different state last year for work and I have been going back and forth with my previous employer, trying to get my W-2 from him.

I reminded him in early January that I needed the W-2 and notified him of my new address. I did not receive it by the end of January and per the IRS, I waited until February 15th and contacted him again, asking if it was mailed or if I could get a scanned copy. He responded by sending me a cellphone photo of Copy B (To Be Filed With Employee's FEDERAL Tax Return) and stated it had been mailed and that I would also receive a scanned copy.

Fast-forward a week, I still have not received a physical or scanned copy of the W-2. I even checked at my old address (rental property owned by my parents) and that address has not received it either. I know the regulations for distributing W-2s state that Copies B, C, and 2 have to be sent to employees, but my question is: Is a picture of Copy B enough for me to file taxes? If not, how should I proceed?


If you are filing electronically, then as long as you can read the numbers on the cellphone photo so that you can type them in, that should be fine. You don't send the actual paper to the IRS anyway, so it doesn't make a difference.

If you are filing on paper, you are required to attach your W-2 to your return. I just read the instructions and it simply says, "attach your W-2", it doesn't specify whether it must be an original or if a copy or a print-out of a cellphone photo is acceptable or not. But if you don't have a W-2, you can attach a form 4852 (https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4852.pdf) instead. So -- and I will gladly yield here to a tax lawyer or someone with more specific knowledge -- I'd say that if all you have is the photo, I'd copy the numbers from that to a 4852 and then attach that to your return. Maybe also attach a print-out of the photo with a note saying what happened.

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