How to Order an IRS Transcript

by Tom Streissguth ; Updated July 27, 2017
Getting a copy of a tax return is a matter of sending in an IRS request form.

The Internal Revenue Service provides free copies of past years’ tax returns, or of tax account or income information, in response to a simple request form. To file a request, the individual or party whose transcript is being requested must sign the request form. The request can be expedited through private vendors; the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) itself will take two to three weeks to respond.

Step 1

Go to the IRS website, and download a version of Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return.

Step 2

Print the request form, and fill it out legibly using blue or black ink. You can also use a typewriter. Alternatively, the form can be filled out online, then printed from your computer. Provide your name, address, and Social Security number, along with the Social Security number of your spouse if you're requesting a joint return.

Step 3

Request the transcript that you need. You can request a return transcript, providing all the individual line items as reported on forms 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ; an account transcript, which gives basic information of the tax return and account balance for a particular year. You can also request a record of account, which includes return information as well as later adjustments made by the IRS; or a Verification of Nonfiling, proving that the IRS has not received a tax return for a particular year. The IRS also provides transcripts of W-2s, 1099s, 1098s, and 5498s for verification of income and contributions to retirement accounts.

Step 4

Specify the years for which you are requesting transcripts on line 9; you may request up to four separate years. For additional years, you must file an additional Form 4506-T.

Step 5

Sign, date, and mail the form to the appropriate IRS agency, depending on your current state of residence and whether you are requesting a 1040 transcript, a W-2 transcript, or some other form of transcript. Mailing information is provided on the request form.

Tips

  • If you are requesting a transcript of a business return, you must provide the EIN (employer identification number). Requests for business transcripts must be signed by an officer of the corporation, or a person authorized by an officer to make the request.

    If you are requesting the transcript be sent to a third party, the form must be received by the IRS within 60 days of the date you signed it.

    If you are requesting a transcript of a joint return, only one party needs to sign.

About the Author

Founder/president of the innovative reference publisher The Archive LLC, Tom Streissguth has been a self-employed business owner, independent bookseller and freelance author in the school/library market. Holding a bachelor's degree from Yale, Streissguth has published more than 100 works of history, biography, current affairs and geography for young readers.

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