You may know that it is always helpful and important to keep copies of your old tax returns on file.

However, it can be all too easy for these copies to become misfiled or misplaced, especially if you move or face other challenges with your records.

If you need copies of your old tax returns and do not have them on hand, don’t despair. You can get tax transcript, previous returns and other valuable information about your tax history, quickly and at no cost.

If you’re getting ready to do your taxes in 2020 and you don’t have helpful records, don’t hesitate to request the documents that you need.

What is a Tax Transcript?

tax transcript

The IRS tax transcript, you will receive a document that has all of the information you provided on your tax return, including your income, your filing status and the deductions and credits you claimed.

Because these types of tax return transcripts can be a gold mine of data for identity thieves and other fraudsters, the IRS will mask your personal information like your telephone number, complete account number and the first five digits of your Social Security Number. However, you already have that information; you won’t need it to make your tax filing easier.

All of the information that you do need, such as your financials, will all be fully displayed.

If you work with an accountant and you want them to access the transcript, they must complete IRS Form 4506-T, the Request for Transcript of Tax Return. There, they will need to designate a customer file number, which must be different than your Social Security number. This number will be added to the IRS transcript database.

Types of IRS Transcripts

There are several types of IRS transcripts you can request, depending on your needs. These include the following:

  • Tax return transcript: The most common type, this includes the line-by-line details from your annual original tax return. Keep in mind that this is a record of your original return; if you needed to make an amended filing, the amendments will not be found on this transcript. You can get this for the current year and three previous years.
  • Tax account transcript: If you need even more details, this may be the record that you want to request. This transcript includes adjusted gross income, various types of taxable income and the types of tax payments you have made. It does include amended filings. You can receive this for the current tax year and up to 10 years previous.
  • Record of account transcript: This document includes all of the data from both of these transcripts into one document. You can receive records for the current year and three past years.
  • Wages and income transcript: This document records only your income. It does not show the deductions that you took that reduced your taxable income. This is available for the current year and up to 10 previous years.
  • Verification of non-filing letter: This is a verification that affirms that you did not need to file a return for a certain year because your income was too low. This is also available for the current year and up to 10 previous years.

How To Get Tax Transcript Online

computer

There are a few different ways you can obtain your tax return transcript, but the easiest way is to use the IRS’ Get Transcript website. In order to access your information, the IRS will need enough information to verify that it is you making the request, including the following:

  • Social Security number
  • Your birth date
  • Your most recent tax filing status
  • Your email address
  • Your mailing address, as used on your most recent tax return
  • At least one account number for a mortgage, loan, credit card or other credit item in your name
  • A U.S.-registered mobile phone, with the account in your name.

The form will ask your reason for requesting the transcript. You are entitled to your records; this is just to make sure that you are being provided with the correct document.

Before you can download and review the transcripts online, the IRS will verify your identity with an email message and a text code sent by SMS to your mobile phone.

If you have a credit freeze on your Experian credit report, you will need to lift the freeze before moving forward with online verification. You can call Experian back to place the freeze again after your verification is complete.

All five types of transcripts are available through the IRS online service.

Get Your Transcript By Mail or Phone

snail mail

If you have difficulty using the online service for any reason, including verification problems or a lack of a mobile phone bill in your name, you can still request your transcript by mail or phone.

To make a phone request, call the IRS at 1-800-908-9946, where you can request a mailed copy. You can expect to receive your transcripts in five to 10 days after your request.

Keep in mind that you can only receive three years of records with a phone request. If you have moved to a new address since your last tax return, you will need to file Form 8822 to change your address officially with the IRS before requesting your tax documents; the Post Office cannot forward IRS mail due to its sensitive nature.

You can also use IRS Form 4506-T to request a copy of your tax transcript through the mail. In most cases, it takes 30 days to process a request for a mailed IRS transcript.

Why Get an IRS Tax Return Transcript?

There are several reasons why you may need a transcript of your tax return. In some cases, you may be asked for tax documents to verify your income, such as applying for a loan or even getting a divorce.

If you do not have your previous tax records on hand, you can use the transcripts to verify this financial information. You may also be able to use the IRS transcripts if you are applying for some types of services that are based on income, like housing subsidies, Medicaid or other assistance programs.

In other cases, you may need your prior tax information to track your adjusted gross income or confirm that you have made payments to the IRS for your self-employment or freelance income.

If you are preparing your taxes for the new year, you may find that providing your older records can significantly help you or your accountant to complete your return correctly.

If you used an online service to file your taxes in recent years, you may also find that the software has a saved copy of your return for you to download. If not, however, the IRS’ online service provides a relatively easy way for people to get important past tax information.

When preparing to file your taxes, having all of your documents on hand can make the process easier for everyone. If you have questions about your taxes, you can turn to an online accountant to handle your tax returns for you. At Picnic Tax, we match you with a skilled accountant who can prepare your return; just upload your documents – including your tax transcripts – online. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.