You should always keep a copy of your tax return for at least three years. You may need it for many reasons, such as preparing future tax returns or amending a prior year’s return. If you need a copy of your tax return but don’t have it, first check with your software provider or tax preparer. Otherwise, you can get one for the current tax year and as far back as six years from the IRS. It takes approximately 75 days to process a request for a copy of a filed tax return and the fee per copy is $50.
However, if all you need is a tax transcript, you get one from the IRS for free. A tax transcript summarizes return information and includes adjusted gross income (AGI). In most cases, a transcript has all the tax information you need.
For example, when applying for home mortgages or college financial aid, transcripts are often necessary. Mortgage companies normally arrange to get one for a homeowner or potential homeowner. If you’re applying for college financial aid, see IRS Offers Help to Students, Families to Get Tax Information for Student Financial Aid Applications IRS.gov for the latest options.
The most popular types of transcripts are:
- Tax Return Transcript: A tax return transcript shows most line items including AGI from an original tax return (Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ) as filed, along with any forms and schedules. It doesn’t show changes made after the filing of the original return. A tax return transcript usually meets the needs of lending institutions offering mortgages and student loans. This transcript is only available for the current tax year and returns processed during the prior three years.
- Tax Account Transcript. A tax account transcript shows basic data such as return type, marital status, adjusted gross income, taxable income and all payment types. It also shows changes made after the filing of the original return.
How to Get a Transcript:
- Online: The quickest way to get a copy of your tax transcript is to use the Get Transcript application. Once you verify your identity, you will be able to view and print your transcript immediately online. This Fact Sheet provides details on how to complete this step.
- By Mail: If you’re unable or prefer not to use Get Transcript Online, you may order a tax return transcript or a tax account transcript by mail:
o using the online tool Get Transcript by Mail;
o calling 800-908-9946; or
o completing and sending either Form 4506-T or Form 4506T-EZ to the IRS.
You can also use Form 4506-T to request other tax records: tax account transcript, record of account, wage and income and verification of non-filing. These forms are available on the Forms & Pubs page on IRS.gov.
Transcripts arrive at the address we have on file for you within 10 calendar days from the time IRS receives your request.