How to Get a Transcript or Copy of a Prior Year Tax Return

One of the often made requests to our office is how to get a copy of prior year tax returns and information. In some cases, it’s related to an IRS inquiry or the need to amend a prior year tax return. But it may also be required for a new job application or to prove income for a loan application. No matter the reason, if you don’t have a copy yourself, it’s likely you’ll be able to get one from the IRS. Here’s how to get your federal tax return information from the IRS:

  1. Transcripts include all the information on your return and all the information provided to the IRS from employers, lenders and others. These documents are free and you can get them for the current year and the past three years. In most cases, a transcript includes all the information you need.
  2. Your tax attorney can often get copies of your transcriptions for many years further back if you’ve authorized them to do so with IRS Form 2848 Power of Attorney.
  3. A tax return transcript shows most line items from the tax return you originally filed. It also includes items from any accompanying forms and schedules you filed. However, it does NOT reflect any changes made after you filed your original return. So if you amended your return, that information will not be on the Return Transcript.
  4. A tax account
    transcript shows any changes either you or the IRS made to your tax return after you filed it. This transcript includes your marital status, the type of return you filed, your adjusted gross income and taxable income.
  5. You can get transcripts on the web, by phone or by mail. To request transcripts online, go to and use the Order a Transcript tool. To order by phone, call 800-908-9946 and follow the prompts.
  6. To request an actual copy of your tax return (Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ) by mail or fax, complete Form 4506T-EZ, Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript. Businesses and individuals who need a tax account transcript should use Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return.
  7. If you order online or by phone, you should receive your tax return transcript within five to 10 calendar days. You should allow 30 calendar days for delivery of a tax account transcript if you order by mail.
  8. If you need an actual copy of a filed and processed tax return, it will cost $57 for each tax year. Complete Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, and mail it to the IRS address listed on the form for your area. Copies are generally available for the current year and past six years. The IRS will usually complete a request within 60 days.

By: Evan A. Nielsen (Licensed in California)

Have more questions? Need help obtaining a copy of your return or transcript? Contact us today for a free consultation. Call (480) 888-7111 or submit a web request.