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Jesse Handel
Jesse Handel, Tax Preparer
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 309
Experience:  10 years tax preparation. IRS Registered Tax Preparer.
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Can I legally file a tax return with my last paycheck stub?

Resolved Question:

Can I legally file a tax return with my last paycheck stub?

Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Tax
Expert:  Jesse Handel replied 8 years ago.

Thank you for coming to JustAnswer and allowing us to help you with your question. You can't file your tax return with just a paystub. You have to wait until you receive your W-2. However, some of the national tax preparation firms, such as H&R Block, offer an advance loan against your refund based on your paystub. These loans are available until January 15. You might want to look into one of those.

Your employer is required to mail your W-2 by January 31. After that, you should start nagging them. If you can't get a W-2 at all, then the IRS requires that you wait until February 15 to file your taxes using a substitute W-2 based on your last pay stub.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Thank you for your response. I've noticed that there are a lot of tax offices that are actually filing or offering to file tax returns with a last pay stub and then, after the W-2 is received, checking the W-2 to insure the accuracy of the numbers filed using the last paystub. If the numbers are different, the client is then charged to prepare a 1040X. Is this legal and if not what is the IRS law or code it is breaking? I've been contacted by a few of these and although it sounds tempting, I am very curious if it is legal. If it is not legal, what are the potential penalties for the taxpayer and the tax office if it is discovered that a tax return was prepared in this way?

Expert:  Jesse Handel replied 8 years ago.
It is not legal for any tax preparer to file a tax return based on a pay stub. The taxpayer must have a W-2 in order to file with the IRS. Many of the advance loans are based on estimated refunds, with the bank loaning the taxpayer part of the estimated refund and then the bank is paid back out of the actual refund once the taxes can be filed. The IRS is not accepting tax returns until January 16, so it is impossible to file a tax return at this time. If a tax office is preparing returns based on tax stubs between January 16 and February 15, then they are breaking the IRS laws and they can be reported to the IRS with fines being levied against the tax office and the taxpayer if this is proven.
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