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Locating My Personal Employment History

Sally Painter
Examining resume employment history with magnifying glass

You may need to produce an official record of your personal employment history. There are a few ways you can verify and offer proof of employment.

Internal Revenue Service Records

Use your income tax returns to locate your personal employment history. You will need to request a transcript. There four types of transcripts you can request from the IRS (Internal Revenue Service. These transcripts are free of charge.

Wage and Income Transcript

The easiest way to locate your personal employment history is to request a copy of your Wage and Income Transcript from the IRS at no charge. This information comes from your W-2, 1099, 1098 and Form 5498, IRA Contribution Information. If you e-filed your income tax return or if you didn't attach a W-2 to your income tax return you can request a transcript of your W-2,

  • A W-2 is given to you each year by your employer, detailing your earnings and deductions for the year.
  • If you're a contractor or consultant, you receive a 1099 from your clients instead of a W-2.
  • A 1098 form is used to record the annual interest you paid on a mortgage.
  • Form 5498 is used to report all IRA contributions you made for the year.
  • You may request the transcript for the current tax year you've filed and up to 10 years prior to the current year for a total of 11 years' worth.

Income Tax Return Transcript

You can also request is a tax return transcript. This will show your AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) taken from the original tax return you filed for the year requested any forms and schedules. You can also order the short form that is free of charge.

  • If you made any changes after filing, they won't be included in this transcript.
  • You can request this for the current tax year as well as the three previous years.
  • Keep in mind that a transcript isn't a copy of your return.

Tax Account Transcript

You may be able to glean your employment history from a Tax Account Transcript. This transcript shows the type of tax return you filed, along with other information, such as martial status, taxable income, adjusted gross income, and any type of payments you made. This transcript will also show any changes or adjustments you made after filing the original tax return. You can request the current year and 10 previous years through an online request.

Record of Account Transcript

You may prefer to request a Record of Account Transcript that is a combination of your tax return and tax account transcript. You can request a transcript for the current year and the three years prior.

Verification of Non-Filing Letter

If you need verification of non-work, you can request a Verification of Non-Filing Letter. This document provides you with the proof that no income tax return was filed with the IRS for that period of time. You can request the current year and up to the three years prior.

How to Request an IRS Transcript Online

To request any of the available IRS transcripts, you'll need register online. You'll follow this same procedure to request any of the available types of transcripts.

  1. You must provide the following in order to register: your Social Security Number (SSN), your birthdate, your filing status and mailing address of your latest tax return.
  2. You need an active email address that you have direct access.
  3. You will provide your personal account number from a mortgage, credit card, home equity loan or line of credit or a car loan to help identify you.
  4. You'll also need to provide a cellphone number listed in your name as the account holder.

What You Will Receive

Once you've registered and provided all the necessary information, you can order any of the available transcripts online. You can print and/or download the transcripts.

How to Order IRS Transcripts by Mail

You need to complete an online form to request any of the transcripts by mail. You'll provide the following information:

  1. Your Social Security Number (SSN) or your Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) are needed. (The ITIN is for those not eligible for a SSN, such as non-resident aliens or foreign nationals required to file income taxes and is assigned by the IRS.)
  2. Date of birth
  3. Your mailing address on your last tax return
  4. You will receive the requested transcript within five to ten days. It will be mailed to the address on file with the IRS.

Request a Copy of Your W-2

There are two ways you can receive a copy of your W-2. The most obvious is to first contact your employer through the human resources department to receive a copy of your latest W-2. There may be a fee for processing your request, so make sure you understand the company's procedure. If you need a copy of an older W-2 or a past employer no longer has copies of your W-2 readily available, you can always request a copy from the Social Security Administration.

Woman filling out paperwork

Request Photocopy of Income Tax Return

You can also request a photocopy of your income tax return by using Form 4506. A copy of your W-2 will be included only if you submitted it with your original tax return. It takes 75 calendars to process your request. You will need to pay a $50 fee per tax year to receive a copy of your tax return. The IRS doesn't provide tax return copies for the current year and won't be available until the following year.

Copy of W-2 From Social Security Administration

If you need a copy of your W-2, you'll need to you'll need to contact Social Security Administration (SSA) for an actual copy of your W-2. A few important things to consider when making such a request include:

  • You can request a W-2 from the years 1978 to present.
  • The good news is if you need these documents for any issue that is related to Social Security, the copy or copies will be provided to you free of charge.
  • Make sure you indicate on the request that you need this information for a social security matter. If you don't, it will be assumed your reason for the request is non-social security related.
  • If you need the copies for any reason other than a Social Security issue, you'll be required to pay $81 per request.
  • Keep in mind, if you e-filed your income tax return, the state and local tax information won't be available.

How to Request W-2s From the SSA

The SSA doesn't provide a form for the request of a copy of a W-2 so you'll need to compose a short letter giving the year or years you need. You'll need to include the following information in your letter of request for a copy of your W-2:

  1. Your Social Security Number (SSN)
  2. Your name as it appears on your Social Security card
  3. The name on the W-2 if it's different from your SSN
  4. Your complete current mailing address
  5. The year or years of W-2 that you need copies
  6. Your daytime telephone number
  7. The reason(s) for your request

Enclose Payment With W-2 Request

When you mail your request for the W-2 copy, you need to pay with a personal check or a money order. Be sure to include this with your letter. Make the check or money order payable to the Social Security Administration. If you prefer to pay via credit card, you need to print out Form-714 and include it when you mail in your request. Please send your request to:

Social Security Administration
Office of Central Operations
Office of Earnings and International Operations
Division of Earnings and Business Services
P.O. Box 33003
Baltimore, MD 21290-3003

Request Copy of Social Security Earnings

Another way to prove your employment history is to request a copy of your earnings from Social Security. There are two options for this request. One is free (non-certified) and the other is fee-based (certified) The non-certified request is free.

  1. You will need to sign in to your SSA account.
  2. If you don't have and account, you can quickly create one online. You'll need to provide your social security number, address, email and select three security questions and provide your telephone number so a security code can be sent to your phone each time you sign on.
  3. Once you have accessed your account, click on View Earnings Record link. This will give your work earnings by the year.

If you require certified earnings from the Social Security Administration, you can use the form for certified earnings requests. This will require a fee.

  • $91 for Certified Itemized Statement of Earnings
  • $34 for Certified Yearly Totals of Earnings
  • $1235 for Certified Itemized Statement of Earnings

Paystubs Reflect Earnings and Dates

You can use your weekly, bi-weekly or monthly paystubs to trace your employment history. If you have direct deposit, you should have online paystubs that you can go through to verify your work dates. If you don't have access to either of these, then you can contact your employer human resources department to request a copy or copies. Keep in mind that each company has its own operating guidelines and rules, so you may need to complete a form or other procedure(s) for such a request.

Previous Employer Human Resources Department

You can always contact your previous employer(s) to request verification of your employment dates. Keep in mind, depending on the state, the Human Resources department may not be required to provide this information to past employees. You may need to be patient since the daily operation of the department could mean you'll need to wait until someone has time to look up your employment record. You may also need to put your request in writing and submit via email.

Locating Your Personal Employment History

You have several options available for locating your personal employment history. You may decide a combination of records is best to build an overall picture of the jobs you've held.

Locating My Personal Employment History