The only way to get a free copy of a W-2 form from a prior year is through the employer that issued it, according to the IRS. The IRS provides copies of W-2 forms attached to completed tax returns if the taxpayer submits Form 4506 along with a fee.
W-2 forms originate from the employer, which sends them to the Social Security Administration. The Social Security Administration sends the information to the IRS, according to the agency. It may take up to 75 days to receive copies from the IRS. Transcripts of tax returns are also available by mailing in a completed form 4506-T. Transcripts are available for the past ten tax years and can be expected within five to 10 days of the receipt of the request.