February 17, 2015
Q. How can I get a copy of my older tax returns?
A. You might find you need past copies of your tax returns for a lot of reasons, such as when you apply for a student loan or a mortgage.
If you haven’t been exactly good at record-keeping, the Internal Revenue Service can actually help — for free.
You can request a “Tax Return Transcript,” which shows the majority of line items from an originally reported tax return, said Joseph Matheson, a certified public accountant with Matheson & Assoc. in Whippany.
“It includes any forms and schedules that were originally filed,” he said. “However, if you filed an amended return a tax return transcript will not show any changes.”
You can also request a “Tax Account Transcript,” which shows any adjustments that have been made by yourself or the IRS after the original filing of a tax return. It will show basic data such as filing status, the type of return filed, adjusted gross income as well as taxable income, Matheson said.
“Both a tax return transcript and a tax account transcript are free of charge,” Matheson said. “After the IRS has
processed the tax return, you can request transcripts for the most current year as well as the past three tax years.”
You can request transcripts online, by telephone or by mail.
• Order Online. By using the “Get Transcript” tool on the IRS web site, you are easily able to confirm your identity and view and print copies of your transcripts immediately. The “Get Transcript” tool is available for the following types of tax records: tax account transcript, tax return transcript, record of account, wage and income, verification of non-filing, Matheson said.
• Order by Telephone: Call (800) 908-9946, and a voice recording will walk you through the process of obtaining a transcript.
• Order by Mail: By using the “Get Transcript by Mail” option on the IRS web site, you can get a copy of your transcript.
If you require an actual copy of your tax return, Matheson said they are typically available for the current tax year and for the past six years for a $50 fee each. You must complete Form 4506 to request a copy of your tax return.
NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.