Tax Tip: Obtain a Copy of a Prior Year Tax Return

There are times when you may need a copy of your prior year federal tax return, a transcript of a return or tax account information. A phone call to the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 or a visit to the IRS Web site may easily solve your problem. There are several different options available depending on how quickly you need the information.

If you need a photocopy of a previously processed tax return, complete Form 4506, "Request for Copy or Transcript of Tax Form," and mail it to the IRS address listed on the form for your area. There is a fee of $23.00 for each tax period requested. It may take up to 60 days for you to receive the copy, but there are several other options if you need some of the information sooner.

A tax return transcript, while not a photocopy of your actual return, will list line items from your original tax return. Transcripts may be available to you within 7-10 working days. Transcripts are only available for returns in the 1040 series (Forms 1040,1040A or 1040EZ). In many cases a transcript will meet the requirement for lending institutions for purposes of student loans, mortgages, and so on. There is no charge for tax return transcripts. Use Form 4506 to request a transcript.

If you need a statement of your tax account showing changes that you or the IRS made to your original return, request "Tax Account Information," which gives your basic tax data, including your marital status, type of returns filed, adjusted gross income, and taxable income. This information can be obtained free of charge by visiting any IRS office or by calling 1-800-829-1040. Allow 15 days for mail delivery. Do not use Form 4506 to request this information.

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