Topic 156 - Copy of Your Tax Return – How to Get One

If you need an exact copy of a previously filed and processed tax return and all attachments (including Form W-2), you should complete Form 4506 (PDF), Request for Copy of Tax Return, and mail it to the address listed in the instructions, along with a $50.00 fee for each tax return requested. The check or money order for the fee should be made payable to the "United States Treasury," and should include your SSN or EIN and the notation "Form 4506 request." Copies are generally available for returns filed for the current and past six years. Copies of jointly filed tax returns may be requested by either spouse and only one signature is required. Allow 75 calendar days to receive your copies.

Most needs for tax return information can be met with a computer printout of your return information called a "transcript." A transcript may be an acceptable substitute for an exact copy of a return by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and lending agencies for student loans and mortgages. A "tax return transcript" will show most line items contained on the return as it was originally filed. If you need a statement of your tax account, which shows changes that you or the IRS made after the original return was filed, however, you must request a "tax account transcript." Both transcripts are generally available for the current and past three years and are provided free of charge. The period in which you will receive the transcript varies from within five to ten business days from the time the IRS receives your request for the tax return or tax account transcript.

You can obtain a free transcript on the IRS.gov website by going to the Get Transcript page. Transcripts may also be ordered by calling 800-908-9946 and following the prompts in the recorded message, or by completing and mailing a request for a transcript to the address listed in the instructions.

The IRS has created Form 4506T-EZ (PDF), Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript, to order a transcript of a Form 1040 series return. The IRS created this streamlined form to help those taxpayers trying to obtain, modify or refinance a home mortgage. Transcripts may also be mailed to a third party, such as a mortgage institution, if specified on the form. You must sign and date the form giving your consent for the disclosure. Businesses, partnerships or individuals who need transcript information from other forms, such as Form W-2 or Form 1099, can use Form 4506-T (PDF), Request for Transcript of Tax Return, to obtain the information. These transcripts may also be mailed to a third party if there is consent for the disclosure. Forms can be downloaded from the IRS.gov website or ordered by calling 800-908-9946.

If you are a taxpayer impacted by a federally declared disaster, the IRS waives the usual fees and expedites requests for copies of tax returns for people who need them to apply for benefits or to file amended returns claiming disaster-related losses. For additional information, refer to Topic 107, or call the IRS Disaster Assistance Hotline at 866-562-5227.

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: July 10, 2014