How to Find Your AGI to E-File a Tax Return
Sign & Validate Your Electronic Return with the IRS
When you file your taxes online, you are required to electronically sign and validate your tax return by providing your prior-year AGI (adjusted gross income). This helps the IRS to verify your identity when you submit an electronic tax form.
Here is some important information about your AGI and how/where to locate your prior-year AGI so you can e-file your taxes securely.
What Is AGI?
Adjusted gross income (AGI) is your total gross income for the year, minus certain adjustments that are allowed. These adjustments may include:
• Self-employed retirement and IRS contributions
• Half of self-employment taxes paid
• Alimony payments
Your AGI dictates whether or not you qualify for certain tax breaks – such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child/Dependent Care Tax Credit, and medical deduction allowances. Your AGI is also used to calculate your total taxable income.
If you are filing a 2018 tax return, you will need to refer to your 2017 tax return to find your prior-year AGI.
Where to Find Your Prior-Year AGI
For filing your 2018 taxes, your prior-year AGI can be found on your 2017 tax return:
Note that Form 1040 is the only version that lets you apply every potential adjustment to reduce your taxable income. Form 1040A has more limited options for adjustments, and Form 1040EZ does not support any of these income adjustments.
If you are a first-time filer who’s over 16 years old, you should enter “0” (zero) as your prior-year AGI.
If your filing status is currently “Married Filing Jointly,” but only one spouse filed a tax return for the previous year, you should enter “0” (zero) for the spouse who didn’t file last year and enter the prior-year AGI for the spouse who did file.
What If You Don’t Have Last Year’s Tax Return?
It is important to retain copies of all your tax returns and any supporting documents. If you used a tax preparer last year, you should be able to get a copy of your past tax return from that preparer. Otherwise, if you need to obtain a full copy of a prior year tax return, you can use Form 4506 (Request for Copy of Tax Form) and pay the IRS fee.
Alternately, a tax return transcript includes less information than a copy of your tax return, but it is sufficient for retrieving your prior-year AGI. You can obtain a free transcript of your past tax return by using the IRS “Get Transcript” online tool. After passing the identity verification process, you will be able to view your previous year AGI. Or, if you prefer, you can ask for a tax transcript by submitting Form 4506-T (Request for Transcript of Tax Return).
Of course, you can always call the IRS to make these requests, or if you have any other individual income tax questions: 1-800-829-1040.
What If Your Filing Status Changed?
No matter what your filing status has changed to/from, you will still use your original AGI from your prior-year tax return. Here are some examples:
If you got married during the past year and your filing status changed from “Single” to “Married Filing Jointly,” then you and your spouse should each use your individual original AGI from your respective previous year tax returns.
On the other hand, if your filing status shifted from “Married Filing Jointly” to “Single,” then both individuals should use the same original AGI from their previous year joint tax return.
Electronic Filing PIN
The IRS has announced that it will no longer be using the electronic filing (e-File) PIN as a signature verification method for online tax returns. The e-File PIN program was targeted by cyber hacks and it has been suspended to protect personal taxpayer information.
For more information, see the IRS Statement on the Electronic Filing PIN.
E-File Your Tax Return
Millions of taxpayers choose to file their tax returns electronically because it saves time and money. Make sure you protect your personal/sensitive information and only use a reputable tax preparer that is an Authorized IRS e-File Provider.
There are many advantages to filing taxes online – including greater accuracy for math calculations, bigger tax refunds, and the ability to track and organize your records. Additionally, the IRS processes electronic returns much faster than paper/mail returns, which means you get your tax refund faster!
More information and resources for filing taxes online can be found at our E-File Center.