Reasons to Obtain Copies of Past Tax Returns
There are many reasons why you may need to obtain a copy of a past tax return. Perhaps you simply lost your copy or there is a pressing financial transaction on the line. It is important to understand how to request a copy of a tax return so you can access that information in a timely manner. Also, depending on what type of information you need from your past tax return, you may choose to request an exact copy or a more basic transcript.
Below are several popular reasons for requesting a copy of a past tax return:
• You like to keep good records, but lost tax documents for a particular year. In this case, you should get in touch with the IRS to request the past returns that you need. This can be done by submitting Form 4506 (Request for Copy of Tax Return) or Form 4506-T (Request for Transcript of Tax Return).
Tax Tip: You can request an exact copy of a past tax return dating back 6 years. However, transcripts of tax returns are only available for the past 3 years. If you misplaced a tax return that is older than 6 years, you may have to search for it on your own because the IRS will not be able to help.
• Depending on your citizenship status, you may need a copy of a past tax return to forward to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. It is important to know exactly what type of information they are asking for. In many cases, a tax return transcript will do just fine, but you should confirm this before filling out the necessary request form.
• Are you applying for a student loan or mortgage? If so, the lender will request your financial information, which includes past tax information. While every lender is different, most will require a copy of your most recent tax return. In some cases (e.g., if you are applying for a mortgage loan) tax returns for the past 2-3 years may be required. While a tax return transcript may be enough for some lenders to make an informed decision, you should always check to make sure.
• You may need a copy of a past tax return if you want to modify or refinance your mortgage. The IRS created Form 4506T-EZ (Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript) which caters to taxpayers who filed Form 1040 and who want to obtain, modify, or refinance a mortgage loan. You can have past tax returns mailed directly to you or the IRS can send them to a third party for you.
Tax Tip: Taxpayers affected by “federally declared disasters” can obtain exact copies of their tax returns free of charge. If this applies to you, you many need your past tax returns to file for special benefits related to the disaster.
There are many reasons why you may need to get a copy of a past tax return. Luckily, requesting a past return (whether an exact copy or a transcript) is simple enough for any taxpayer to do.