I can't finish my FAFSA because my W-2 is missing. I tried looking into tax forms for transcripts, but I didn't make enough in 2016 to have to file for a return.

The point is that my financial aid is in a catch-22 limbo. In order for me to complete the verification process the college is asking for me to provide a missing W-2. The way the document is written can easily be misinterpreted. Taking it out of context in layman is I must provide a W-2 and a verification of non-filing. I don't have it nor does the IRS because I didn't have to file for a return because I didn't make enough.

Quotation from document emailed to me by the college.

The student was employed in 2016 and have listed below the names of all employers, the amount earned from each employer in 2016, and whether an IRS W-2 form is provided. [Provide copies of all 2016 IRS W-2 forms issued to the student by their employers.] List every employer even if the employer did not issue an IRS W-2 form. The student will obtain and submit a 2016 IRS verification of Non-filing letter to the financial aid office

So it's mandatory to provide both a W-2 and verification of non-filing in order to get financial aid. I don't know if I'm bewildered or am genuinely in a catch-22. I've looked up on the IRS website, and they said they only could provide a copy of a W-2 if one is provided in a return.

Two quick questions

  1. I was filed as a dependent so would it be possible that a copy of my w-2 was submitted to the IRS by my parents?
  2. I know you are going to tell me to contact my employer for a duplicate W-2, but the work-place I work at is sometimes incompetent. I don't want to be waiting 3 weeks expecting a duplicate W-2 to come in and it doesn't, causing me to miss another semester of school. Will my employer take offense if I contact the IRS first to make sure I receive a duplicate W-2?
  • 1
    Based on the wording, you only have to supply those W-2 forms which (a) the employer provided (b) to the student. A strict reading would mean that if the employer sent the form to your parents, it isn't necessary.
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 3:09
  • What's your age? Regardless if you live alone and work, chances are the FAFSA may go off your parent's income until you're 24 or 25.
    – CKM
    Commented Jul 6, 2018 at 19:26

1 Answer 1


If an employer gave you a W-2, either a paper copy or a electronic copy, they also filed copies with the Federal and state government. This is true even if you didn't make enough money to be required to file a 1040.

Most people use the IRS tool to send they data directly into the FAFSA, but that doesn't work if you didn't file a tax return for 2016.

Even if you find the W-2 you will need the Verification of Non-filing Letter to prove that the IRS has no tax return from you for that year.

Looking at the IRS website regarding transcripts you need to request two items:

  • Wage and Income Transcript - shows data from information returns we receive such as Forms W-2, 1099, 1098 and Form 5498, IRA Contribution Information. Current tax year information may not be complete until July. This transcript is available for up to 10 prior years using Get Transcript Online or Form 4506-T.

  • Verification of Non-filing Letter - provides proof that the IRS has no record of a filed Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ for the year you requested. It doesn't indicate whether you were required to file a return for that year. This letter is available after June 15 for the current tax year or anytime for the prior three tax years using Get Transcript Online or Form 4506-T. You must use Form 4506-T if you need a letter for tax years older than the prior three years.

It should be faster to use the Get Transcript online tool. The issue will be do you have all the information needed to use the tool:

What You Need

To register and use this service, you need:

  • your SSN, date of birth, filing status and mailing address from latest tax return,
  • access to your email account,
  • your personal account number from a credit card, mortgage, home equity loan, home equity line of credit or car loan, and
  • a mobile phone with your name on the account.

otherwise you may need to use the form, which will take longer.

regarding is a w-2 filed if the individual doesn't have to file:

from IRS Pubs about-form-w2:

Every employer engaged in a trade or business who pays remuneration, including noncash payments of $600 or more for the year (all amounts if any income, social security, or Medicare tax was withheld) for services performed by an employee must file a Form W-2 for each employee (even if the employee is related to the employer) from whom:

  • Income, social security, or Medicare tax was withheld.
  • Income tax would have been withheld if the employee had claimed no more than one withholding allowance or had not claimed exemption from withholding on Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate.
  • Wouldn't "filing status and mailing address from latest tax return" by definition not exist for a non-filer?
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 3:12
  • But if they had enough income in 2017 they would now have an account in the system. Also the fact that a W-2 was created for 2016 income, may create an account at the IRS. Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 10:02
  • So its saying if you filed for a return. Well, I was filed dependent as an adult and did not make enough to have to file. So if no return was filed will the IRS still have a copy of my w-2? If not then I must contact my employer and pray that there is no incompetence.
    – The T
    Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 15:23
  • The company sends a copy of the W-2, they have no idea if you have to file. A person can have multiple jobs each of which was under the limit, and the combination would have required the person to file. The company can't assume. If they withheld anything (state taxes, federal taxes, FICA) there would have been a reason to send the W-2. Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 15:34
  • Good, I file out the form 4506-T. Since, I don't have a credit card. I'll have to do it by mail.
    – The T
    Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 15:45

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