Tips for Getting a Previous Year Tax Return
Do you need to get your hands on a copy of a past tax return? No matter why you need a past tax return, it is important to know which steps to take and which mistakes to avoid.
You may request an exact copy of a past tax return, or just a transcript of a previously filed return. Transcripts are generally easier to obtain and free of charge, but they provide less information about your tax return.
Here are several tips for getting a copy (or transcript) of a past tax return:
Contact your tax professional
Did you hire a professional to file your tax return? If so, they should have a copy of your past tax return, including all attachments, in their records. Contact your tax professional to ask them to provide you with a copy of your past return.
Get in touch with the IRS
If you need a copy of a previous year’s tax return, the IRS can probably help too. You may request an exact copy of your tax return or a basic transcript. With an exact copy you will receive all of the original information (and attachments) from your past tax return ― but there is a fee of $57 for each copy. On the other hand, a transcript includes just the basic information from your past tax return. For those who don’t need a full copy, a transcript is a better option because it’s also free.
Make an official request to the IRS
Complete and submit the necessary request form to the IRS. For an exact copy of a past tax return, you will need to use Form 4506 (Request for Copy of Tax Return). For a transcript, use Form 4506-T (Request for Transcript of Tax Return). Copies of these tax forms are available online at the IRS website, or you may order forms for delivery by mail.
Do not wait too long
If want to get an exact copy of a past tax return, the IRS can only provide you with copies for the last 6 years. Transcripts are only available for the current year and the previous 3 years. Waiting too long may result in missing these limited windows of opportunity.
Be patient with the IRS
Nothing is instantaneous when dealing with the IRS ― they are constantly processing thousands of requests. If you need a copy of a past tax return because you’re applying for a mortgage or other loan, make sure to leave yourself enough time. It can take up to 60 days to receive an exact copy of a past tax return, and up to 30 days for a transcript.
These above tips should help you in requesting a copy of a previous year’s tax return. It’s up to you to make sure you follow the proper procedures and guidelines for obtaining a past tax return so that the IRS can send you the information you need.