Q: A former employee has requested a copy of his 2003 W-2 form. We backed up the data, sent it to a remote storage facility and purged it years ago. It would be extremely burdensome to pull it out now, especially for a former employee. What is the legal requirement for providing employees with copies of old W-2s?
A: This former employee’s request is considerably beyond the IRS’ record retention requirements. You’re required to keep Copy D of your W-2 forms for four years. So, for example, you must keep W-2s filed in 2010 until April 15, 2015. You can tell him that he can request a transcript of his tax information from the IRS, instead.