How to Get Copies of Your Tax Returns
It's always a good idea to keep copies of important records in safe places. You never know when you'll need to grab a receipt or check that you've paid a bill. Keeping copies of your tax returns, however, is especially important. Not only can they help you prepare future returns, but you'll also need them to amend a previous year's return or when you apply for a mortgage or business loan.
If you're smart, you'll scan the information and keep it on an external hard drive that is stored someplace safe, such as in a bank safe deposit box or secure home safe.
But if your records are missing, the IRS can give you a copy of your returns or a transcript of the information you need. Here's how to ask for a copy of important information.
Transcripts: The IRS will send you a free transcript for the current and the past three years. You can request a tax return transcript, which is a summary of your filed return that also includes items from attached forms and schedules you file. You can also ask for a tax account transcript, which includes your marital status, type of return filed, adjusted gross income and taxable income. It also shows changes that you or the IRS made after you filed your return.
How to obtain transcripts online: The fastest way to get a copy of transcripts is to fill out the Get Transcript application, which, once your identity is verified, will allow you to access the information online immediately.
Snail mail: If you want to get a copy of information the old-fashioned way (by mail), you can order a tax return transcript or tax account transcript by using the online tool Get Transcript by Mail, or by calling 800-908-9946. Transcripts will arrive five to 10 calendar days after the IRS gets your request.
Copies of returns: It will cost you $50 to obtain a copy of each filed and processed tax return you request. Complete Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, to obtain returns for up to six past years. But this takes a long time to dig up: Allow 75 days for delivery. However, here's a silver lining for people hit by disasters: The IRS will send you a free copy of your tax return if you live in a federally declared disaster area.