The Elusive W2
Every year I panic for people. Probably not the brightest thing to do…but really I do. We always hear about some laptop stolen with thousands of SSN’s on it for a credit company. We then whine about the credit company’s slack security. Or when hackers send emails that we fall prey too….we blame the hackers or internet server for allowing such behavior. How often do we really blame ourselves?
Every year at this time we get phone calls from ex-employees about how they didn’t receive their W2. Some even yell about how they called the old address and the new inhabitants claim it never arrived, and that it is somehow my fault. It doesn’t get better when I tell them they must go through their old boss so that we can in fact verify they are who they claim to be. What would people think of the accountant who assumed that every Jane Doe or John Smith that called was who they claimed to be?
Do you know that I can count on one hand, in the last 6 years that I have been doing taxes, that I have seen a W2 stamped with “Return to Sender”? I don’t even have to count, we have yet to get one. Now think about that. Your SSN is now floating around somewhere because you didn’t take 5 minutes to send your new address to your old employer. I understand that you may not be thinking about that amongst settling in to your new living space. I do not understand how it is my fault and that I am supposed to miraculously know when Suzie Q moved and to where and that I should update her info in my file.
So for all of you whom have just moved or are considering a move this year. Write down every single person you have worked for this year (ok so it’s February…but if you move in September you will thank me for this). It doesn’t matter if you worked for them for just a day. If you did contract labor, write down those people as well. Put it on your checklist of things to do in your move. Once you have moved and have updated your drivers license, CONTACT THEM IMMEDIATLEY! Let them know you moved and your new address. Check back with them in a month or so to be sure they had the info changed. All W2’s must be postmarked by Jan 31, please don’t wait until February to start calling around about it…it’s already sent and someone else will get it. Do you really want someone to have that info? And if the employer uses an accounting practice to handle payroll, DO NOT expect to be able to call and get your info updated without going through your old employer. It is to protect your identity, the livelihood of the accountant, and the livelihood of the employer.
This public service announcement was brought to you by one frazzled accountant whom happens to be quite anal retentive about people protecting their identity.