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How to Get Your Prior-Year Tax Information from the IRS

IRS Summertime Tax Tip 2011-19, August 17, 2011

Taxpayers sometimes need tax returns from previous years for loan applications, to estimate tax withholding, for legal reasons or because records were destroyed in a natural disaster or fire. If your original tax returns were lost or destroyed, you can obtain copies or transcripts from the IRS. Here are 10 things to know if you need federal tax return information from a previously filed tax return.

  1. There are three options for obtaining free copies of your federal tax return information – on the web, by phone or by mail.

  2. The IRS does not charge a fee for transcripts, which are available for the current and past three tax years.

  3. A tax return transcript shows most line items from your tax return as it was originally filed, including any accompanying forms and schedules. It does not reflect any changes made after the return was filed.

  4. A tax account transcript shows any later adjustments either you or the IRS made after the tax return was filed. This transcript shows basic data, including marital status, type of return filed, adjusted gross income and taxable income.

  5. To request either transcript online, go to www.irs.gov and use our online tool called Order A Transcript. To order by phone, call 800-908-9946 and follow the prompts in the recorded message.

  6. To request a 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ tax return transcript through the mail, complete IRS Form 4506T-EZ, Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript. Businesses, partnerships and individuals who need transcript information from other forms or need a tax account transcript must use the Form 4506T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return.

  7. If you order online or by phone, you should receive your tax return transcript within five to 10 days from the time the IRS receives your request. Allow 30 calendar days for delivery of a tax account transcript if you order by mail.

  8. If you still need an actual copy of a previously processed tax return, it will cost $57 for each tax year you order. Complete Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, and mail it to the IRS address listed on the form for your area. Copies are generally available for the current year and past six years. Please allow 60 days for actual copies of your return.

  9. The fee for copies of tax returns may be waived if you are in an area that is declared a federal disaster by the President. Visit www.irs.gov, keyword “disaster,” for more guidance on disaster relief.

  10. Visit www.irs.gov to determine which form will meet your needs. Forms 4506, 4506T and 4506T-EZ are available at www.irs.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Links:

  • Order a Transcript - Online Service
  • Form 4506-T-EZ, Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript (PDF)
  • Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return (PDF
  • Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Form (PDF)
  • Tax Return Transcripts 


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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 25-Sep-2013