Monday, March 4, 2013

How to get prior year tax information from the IRS

How to get prior year tax info from the IRS

If you failed to keep records of past tax returns, the IRS offers several different ways to get tax return information or an actual copy of your return for prior years. Here are your options:

  • Tax Return Transcript.  This shows most line items from your tax return as originally filed, along with any forms and schedules from your return.  This transcript does not reflect any changes made to the return after you filed it. Tax return transcripts are free.

  • Tax Account Transcript.  This shows any adjustments made by you or the IRS after filing your return. This transcript shows basic data, like marital status, type of return filed, adjusted gross income and taxable income. Tax account transcripts also are free.   
After the IRS has processed a return, transcripts are available for the current tax year and the past three tax years. You can request both types of transcripts online, by phone or by mail.  To place your order online, go to Order a Transcript online tool. Order a transcript by phone at 800-908-9946. A recorded message will guide you through the process. You can also request your tax return transcript by mail by completing Form 4506T-EZ. Use Form 4506T to mail a request for your tax account transcript. You can get both forms online at  

  • Tax Return Copies.  Actual copies of your tax returns are generally available for the current tax year and as far back as six years. The fee for each copy you order is $57. (Ed. note: Yikes!)

To request a copy of your tax return, complete Form 4506, available from the IRS website: Form 4506. Mail your request to the IRS office listed on the form for your area.

The turnaround time for online and phone orders is typically 5 to 10 days from the time the IRS receives the request. Allow 30 calendar days for delivery of a tax account transcript if you order by mail, and allow 60 days when ordering actual copies of your tax return by mail.

 The IRS also has YouTube videos on how to request a copy of your tax return:   English | Spanish | ASL

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