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Tax Tips on Ordering Your Tax Records

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Daniel Cohen
UpdatedFeb 19, 2015
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    3 min read
Key Takeaways:
  • Review when you may need to provide your tax records to others.
  • Examine the difference between tax records and tax transcripts.
  • Learn how to order both tax records and tax transcripts.

Understand How to Order the Right Version of Your IRS Tax Records.

Do you need some old tax records you can't locate?

There are many reasons you may need to access old tax records that you no longer have, whether they have been lost, stolen, or damaged due to fire or natural disaster.

You may need to provide copies of your tax returns when you apply for a mortgage loan, a student loan, or for federal aid. Other times, you may not need a copy of your tax return, but a record of how much you earned and what you paid in taxes. This information can be found on your IRS tax transcripts.

Quick tip

If you are struggling with IRS tax debt, get a no-cost, no obligation analysis of your options from one of's pre-screened tax specialists.

Tax Returns Transcript vs. Tax Account Transcripts

Tax Return Transcript

It is easy to be confused, but there is a big difference between tax return transcripts and tax account transcripts, and neither are the same as a copy of your tax return. A tax return transcripts the record of you original tax submission. It shows most line items from your return, along with any forms or schedules that were filed with your return. It does not show any changes made after the return was filed.

Tax Account Transcript

A tax account transcript reflects changes that were made to your tax return, after it was filed, whether you made a change to the return or the IRS changed it. Tax Account Transcript contains basic information about you, such as the kind of return you filed, your adjusted gross income, your tax income, your marital status, as well as any adjustments made to the return.

Ordering Your Different Tax Records

You can obtain both tax account transcripts and tax return transcripts from the IRS, for free, for the current and past three years. You can place your order by phone (1-800-TAX-FORM), by mail, or at the IRS Web site. The IRS estimates that it will take five to ten days from the time of your request for you to receive the transcripts that you order online or by phone Transcripts ordered through mail should arrive within 30 days.

  1. You can order a tax return transcript for a 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ by filling out IRS Form 4506-T-EZ, the Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript
  2. Businesses, partnerships,and individuals looking for information from any forms other than the three listed above need to use Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return. An important use of the 4506-T is to give a third party, such as a mortgage lender, authorization to view your transcripts, when you apply for a loan. Giving the lender quick access to your tax information can speed up your loan application.
  3. You can order a copy of a past tax return, too, but it is not free. Past returns cost $57 for each separate tax year that you order. In general, you can order copies of the current year and the past six years. It takes up to 60 days to get the copies of your old returns. To order a past return, complete the IRS Form Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Form.