Pay stubs are not W-2s

Taxpayers are warned against using their pay stubs as substitute W-2s for income tax filing. Some tax preparers will advertise “Bring us your pay stubs and we’ll file your tax return.”

Pay stubs do not usually have the employer’s Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) on them. The FEIN is required when taxpayers file their income tax – whether electronically or on paper. The Colorado Department of Revenue verifies the FEINs to ensure the employer has paid the taxpayer’s withholding tax. When there is no FEIN with the income tax filing or the FEIN is incorrect, the taxpayer will not get credit for income taxes already paid through withholding.

Taxpayers who e-file, either through the Department of Revenue’s free Revenue Online service or through tax software, must enter the employer’s FEIN while they complete the electronic tax return.

Taxpayers who file on paper must attach W-2 documents, which contain the employer’s FEIN. Pay stubs are not accepted as a substitute W-2. Taxpayers will receive a letter requesting the actual W-2, which will delay tax return processing and, if applicable, refund processing.

Employers must send copies of W-2 statements to their employees by January 31st of each year. If an individual taxpayer does not receive W-2s, please contact the employer directly to request them. If the employer does not provide a W-2 to the employee, use the Department of Revenue form DR 0084, W-2 Form Substitute, which should be submitted with the Colorado income tax return. Include copies of documentation (e.g., pay stubs) to help verify the amount of income withholding tax paid.