Hold on to tax returns
PHOENIX — IRS recommends that people always keep a copy of their tax return for their records. People may need copies of filed tax returns for many reasons. For example, they can help people prepare future tax returns.
People will also need returns if they have to amend a prior year tax return. People often need returns when they apply for a loan to buy a home or to start a business or need them if they apply for student financial aid.
If people can’t find their copies, IRS can provide a transcript of the tax information needed, or a copy of a tax return. Here is more information, including how to get a federal tax return information from the IRS:
Transcripts are free and people can get them for the current year and the past three years. In most cases, a transcript includes the tax information needed.
A tax return transcript shows most line items from the tax return that people filed. It also includes items from any accompanying forms and schedules that they filed. It doesn’t reflect any changes the person or the IRS may have made after they filed the original return.
A tax account transcript includes marital status, the type of return filed, adjusted gross income and taxable income. It does include any changes that the person or the IRS made to a tax return after it was filed.
People can order free transcripts online, by phone, by mail or fax.
IRS has temporarily stopped the online functionality of the Get Transcript application process on the IRS.gov website that delivered a transcript immediately. IRS is making modifications and further strengthening security for the online service.
While people can still use the Get Transcript tool (http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript) to order a transcript, the IRS will send it by mail to the last address they have on file.
To order a transcript online and have it delivered by mail, go to IRS.gov and use the Get Transcript tool.
To order by phone, call 800-908-9946 and follow the prompts.
To request an individual tax return transcript by mail or fax, complete Form 4506T-EZ (http://www.irs.gov/uac/About-Form-4506T-EZ), Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript.
Businesses and individuals who need a tax account transcript should use Form 4506-T (http://www.irs.gov/uac/About-Form-4506T), Request for Transcript of Tax Return.
People should receive their transcript within five-to-10 days from the time the IRS receives a request. Note that ordering a transcript online or over the phone are the quickest options.
Keep in mind that the method used to file a return and whether people have a refund or balance due affects the current year transcript availability. Use this chart (http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Transcript-Availability) to determine when people can order a transcript.
If people need a copy of their filed and processed tax return, it will cost $50 for each tax year. People should complete Form 4506 (http://www.irs.gov/uac/Form-4506,-Request-for-Copy-of-Tax-Return), Request for Copy of Tax Return, to make the request.
Mail it to the IRS address listed on the form for the area. Copies are generally available for the current year and past six years. Allow 75 days for delivery.
Mortgage Applicants. If people are applying for a mortgage, most mortgage companies only require a tax return transcript for income verification purposes and participate in Income Verification Express Service (IVES) program.
If someone needs to order a transcript they should follow the process described above and have it mailed to the address IRS have on file. Plan accordingly and allow for time for delivery.
Disaster Victims. If people live in a federally declared disaster area, they can get a free copy of their tax return. Visit IRS.gov for more disaster relief information (http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Disaster-Assistance-and-Emergency-Relief-for-Individuals-and-Businesses-1.
Financial Aid Applicants. If a person is applying for financial aid, they can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (https://fafsa.ed.gov/help/irshlp9.htm) on the FAFSA website to import their tax return information to their financial aid application.
The temporary shutdown of the Get Transcript tool does not affect the Data Retrieval Tool. People may also click on their help page (https://fafsa.ed.gov/help.htm) for more information.
If a person needs a copy of their transcript they should follow the information above to request it as soon as possible. It takes five-to-10 calendar days for transcripts to arrive at the address the IRS has on file.
Identity Theft Victims. Did someone receive a notice from the IRS about a suspicious return? Has the IRS notified someone that it did not accept their e-filed return because of a duplicate Social Security Number?
If anyone answered yes to either question, they may be a victim of tax-related identity theft. If they are a tax-related identity theft victim they first need to file the Identity Theft Affidavit http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f14039.pdf.
If the victim is waiting for the IRS to resolve their case but need a transcript, they will need to call the Identity Protection Specialized Unit line to process a request. Call the Unit at 800-908-4490.
For more information, review the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft (http://www.irs.gov/uac/Taxpayer-Guide-to-Identity-Theft).
Tax forms are available 24/7 on IRS.gov/forms (http://www.irs.gov/Forms-&-Pubs.)People can also call 800-829-3676 to get them by mail.
Additional IRS Resources: Tax Topic 156 (http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc156.html)