If you need to see your past tax information, there’s a way to get it from the IRS by requesting an IRS transcript.
What is an IRS transcript?
An IRS transcript is a summary or overview of your tax return information. There are five types, and they include most line items from your tax return, such as your adjusted gross income (AGI), as well as information about your filing status, payments and return type. You can request an IRS transcript any time, and they are free.
Transcripts display only partial personal information, such as concealing all but the last four digits of your Social Security number. But financial and tax information, such as wages and taxable income, is fully visible.
One important note: IRS tax transcripts are not photocopies of your actual tax return with all the forms and attachments. If that’s what you want, you’ll need to complete IRS Form 4506 and mail it to the IRS. There’s a $50 fee for that (unless you live in a federally declared disaster area), and it can take up to 75 days to process.
IRS transcript types
Here’s the breakdown.
|IRS transcript type||What it contains||How far back you can go||Notes|
|Tax return transcript||Most line items, including AGI, from your tax return||Current tax year and prior three years||Usually works for mortgages, financial aid and student loan lenders; doesn’t show changes made after you filed your original return|
|Tax account transcript||Basic data such as return type, marital status, AGI, taxable income and payment type||Current tax year and up to 10 prior years (if requesting online or with Form 4506-T) or up to three years (if requesting by mail or phone)||Can be used to confirm estimated tax payments were applied; also shows changes made after you filed your original return|
|Record of account||Combines the tax return transcript and the tax account transcript||Current tax year and prior three years|
|Wage and income transcript||Shows data from your W-2s, 1099s, 1098s and IRA contribution information||Current tax year and up to 10 prior years (if requesting online or with Form 4506-T)||Current tax year information may not be up until July|
|Verification of non-filing letter||Proof that the IRS has no record of a 1040 for a particular year||Current tax year and up to 10 prior years (if requesting with Form 4506-T) or up to three years (if requesting by mail or phone)||It does not indicate whether you were required to file a return for that given year. It is available after June 15 for current tax year.|
How to request an IRS transcript
There are three ways to request an IRS transcript. Here are the basic steps.
Request a transcript online
- Go to the IRS Get Transcript site.
- If you want the transcript to show on your screen (“Get Transcript Online”), you’ll need to authenticate your identity. If you have a credit security freeze with Experian, you’ll need to lift it to verify your identity.
- If you want the transcript mailed to you (“Get Transcript by Mail”), you’ll need your Social Security number, Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) or 10-digit customer file number from a lender, as well as your date of birth and mailing address. Orders typically take 5 to 10 days to process. Note that only the Record of Account and Tax Return transcripts are receivable by mail.
Request an IRS transcript via phone
- Call the IRS at 800-908-9946.
- The transcript will be sent to you in the mail.
- Orders typically take 5 to 10 days to process.
Request an IRS transcript on paper
- Print a copy of IRS Form 4506-T or IRS Form 4506-T-EZ, fill it out and mail it.
- Orders typically take 30 days to process.
Other ways to get tax records
If you’re looking for your tax records and you used tax software, your tax software provider may have them on file depending on which provider you used and what program you purchased. If you used a tax preparer, he or she may still have your tax returns on file as well.