How do I get tax transcripts and copies of tax returns from the IRS?

Sometimes you find yourself searching for old tax transcripts. If you can't find them, we can help you order them from the IRS. Follow these steps to do so.

Adam Goldkamp is the editor / author responsible for this content.
Jun 3, 2021

As a taxpayer, you should keep copies of your tax returns for at least three years. If you want a copy of your tax returns from previous years, you may get from IRS at a small fee. If you need a copy of your tax returns from that year, you can check with the IRS software provider. If you need tax transcripts, you do not have to pay for them. IRS can help you get them for free.

About Tax Transcripts

A transcript is a document that summarizes your return information. You can get them for the current tax year after returns have been processed by the IRS. You can access your tax transcripts up to three years before the current tax year.

You may need transcripts when applying for your college financial aid and home mortgage. If you are applying for a mortgage, your mortgage company may help you get your tax transcripts.

1. About Tax Return Transcripts

This tax transcript mainly shows line items such as the AGI from an original tax return. This transcript does not show any changes that may be made after filing that return. You may only access this transcript for your current tax year and returns that were processed in the three prior years.

2. About Tax Account Transcript

This transcript shows primary data such as your marital status, adjusted gross income, and return type. Your tax account transcript shows changes that are made after filing your original return.

How to Get Your Transcript From the IRS

  1. The most common and convenient way to get your transcript is by ordering online. Go to the IRS website and click on the 'Get Transcript' tool. Click on the provided link under the 'TOOLS' bar. You will be required to authenticate your identity to complete the process.
  2. You may make your order by phone. If you contact the IRS, you will be connected to an agent who will help you get your transcript.
  3. If you make your transcript order through mail, you should use Form 4506-T or Form 4506T-EZ

Getting a Copy of Your Tax Returns From the IRS

IRS allows you to get a copy of your tax returns for the current tax year and up to six years prior. You need to pay $50 for a copy of your tax returns. Fill in Form 4506 and mail it to IRS to request a copy of your tax returns. If you live in an area that has been declared a disaster area by the federal government, you may get a free copy of your tax returns.

When trying to get a copy of your tax returns, you must be very careful. Note that the IRS does not start conversations with you through any social media platforms. If they want to initiate contact, they will do so by mail. Those who try to contact you through other channels may be scammers.

When you order for a copy of your transcript, you may get it in five to ten days after your request is received. If you made your order through mail, you have to wait 30 days. If you ordered a copy of your tax return, you need to wait 75 days.

If you wish to contact IRS for issues with your tax transcripts or copies of tax returns, you may reach them by phone, mail, email support, live chat, or their various social media platforms. You may contact IRS support team from Monday to Friday. The best time to call is 8:00 am and you will get help in less than an hour. Otherwise, these steps will help you get tax transcripts and copies of tax returns from the IRS.

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Adam has been tirelessly trying to help customers find the best tips and tricks to get through phone trees and writing many guides for prickly customer service problems. He's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inside Edition and Bloomberg.
How do I get tax transcripts and copies of tax returns from the IRS?

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