With the advent of tax preparation software, getting a copy of the stored tax return from the computer will not be a problem for many. Those who still prefer manual preparation and mailing of their tax return, usually keep copies of their submissions.
But if you have no copies left or you never took copies, how do you get one?
May be, some of us would have confronted this situation while applying for student loans and mortgages. Suddenly we may find that we don’t have a copy of last year’s tax return be it 1040, 1040A or 1040 EZ.
Or, may be, we want to make changes to an already submitted return but forgot to keep a copy of the original.
Provided you have the time to wait over the period needed for processing and mailing, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may be able to help you.
First, you should make sure what you really want:
(1) An EXACT copy of your filing with all the attachments, OR
(2) just a computer-generated transcript of your return.
Next, you should put in your request sufficiently in advance to get it in time for whatever purpose you requested the copies for.
1. AN EXACT COPY OF YOUR FILING
For an EXACT copy of a previously filed tax return and all attachments, including W2 Form,
you should complete Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return and mail it to the address listed in the instructions section.
Thankfully, the IRS keeps in file your returns of not only the current year but of the past SIX years too.
This service has a $57.00 fee for EACH TAX YEAR year requested. You can pay it by check or money order, made payable to the “United States Treasury”.
It may take up to 60 calendar days to receive your copies. So, remember to apply sufficiently in advance, if the purpose of your request is time-barred.
2. A TRANSCRIPT OF THE RETURN
Most of the time a computer print-out of your return, called a “transcript”, is what is all needed, depending on your purpose.
Many government agencies and financial institutions lending student loans and mortgages list a transcript of the tax return as one of the alternatives in lieu of the original or photocopy.
Transcripts are only available for the following returns:
Form 1040 series, Form 1065, Form 1120, Form 1120A, Form 1120H, Form 1120L, and Form 1120S.
A “Tax Return Transcript”, usually of the 1040 and its variants, will show most line items contained on the return as it was originally filed. These are available for returns filed in the current year and the prior THREE years.
If what you need is a complete statement reflecting all the changes that you or the IRS made after the original return was filed, you must request a “Tax ACCOUNT Transcript”, not just a tax return transcript.
These transcripts are also generally available for the current and past THREE years.
The best part of it: Transcripts unlike copies are provided free of charge by the IRS.
You can obtain these free transcripts of Tax Returns by calling 800-829-1040 and following the prompts in the recorded message or by completing and mailing Form 4506-T, Request for a Transcript of Tax Return to the address listed in the instructions.
Businesses, partnerships or individuals who need transcript information from other forms, such as Form W-2 or Form 1099, can use Form 4506-T , Request for Transcript of Tax Return, to obtain the information.
The waiting period for processing your request is also less, up to 10 to 45 days from the time the IRS receives your request but depends on what details are requested:
– 10 business days for Return Transcripts for the current year and the prior 3 years.
– 30 calendar days for Account Transcripts, with information on the financial status of the account, payments made on the account, penalty assessments, adjustments made after the return was filed, tax liability and estimated tax payments.
– 30 calendar days for Record of Account, with line item information and later adjustments to the account, for current year and 3 prior years.
– 10 business days for Verification of Non-filing, proof from the IRS that you did not file a return for the year. There are no time-barred restrictions on prior year requests, except that current year information is available after June 15th only.
– 45 days for transcripts of Form W-2 (without state and local info), Form 1099 series, Form 1098 series, or Form 5498 series for up to the past 10 years but excluding the current year.
STREAMLINED FORM 4506T-EZ
The IRS has published a new Form 4506T-EZ, Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript. This is a streamlined form to help taxpayers applying for a home mortgage including modification and refinancing.
The tax return transcript will not show payments, penalty assessments, or adjustments made to the originally filed return.
MAILING TRANSCRIPTS TO THIRD PARTIES
Transcripts may also be mailed to a third party at the taxpayer’s request provided you sign and date the form indicating your consent for the disclosure.
But remember IRS has no control over what the third party does with the information you consent to send them.
So understandably, the third party usually is a responsible financial institution you deal with and not total strangers or casual acquaintances.
SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR RESIDENTS OF FEDERALLY DECLARED DISASTER AREAS APPLYING FOR COPIES
Usually taxpayers living in Federally Declared Disaster areas may be required to submit copies of their tax returns to apply for relief benefits or to file amended tax returns for getting credit or deductions of losses suffered.
Tax payers affected by a federally declared disaster may get a waiver of the usual charges mentioned above.
Also such requests may usually get an expedited response.
Affected taxpayers can get more information from the IRS Disaster Assistance Hotline at 866-562-5227.
Remember, to avail this consideration, an affected region must be notified as a Federally Declared Disaster area by the US government.
INFORMATION FOR JOINT FILERS
Either spouse who filed joint tax returns can request for a copy of their return and only one signature is required.
REMEMBER TO USE
– Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return if you need an EXACT copy of your return including the various attachments.
– Form 4506-T , Request for Transcript of Tax Return if you need only a transcript of the following filings:
• A transcript of a business return (including estate and trust returns).
• A record of account, which is a combination of line item information and later adjustments to the account.
• A verification of non-filing, which is proof from the IRS that you did not file a return for the year.
• A Form W-2, Form 1099 series, Form 1098 series, or Form 5498 series transcript.
• “Tax ACCOUNT transcript” if you also want included any later changes made to your return after the original was filed. An account transcript contains detailed information on the financial status of the account, such as payments made on the account, penalty assessments, and adjustments made by you or the IRS after the return was filed.
– Form 4506T-EZ, Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript where just the minimum information is only necessary with no mention of payments, penalty assessments, or adjustments made after the filing of the original return.
PLEASE NOTE: This is only a basic introduction to the subject. For the latest and authoritative official information in the matter, please refer to resources provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).