How to Retrieve Past Tax Returns

Written by amy dombrower
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How to Retrieve Past Tax Returns
Order a tax transcript or copy of your return from the IRS. (tax forms image by Chad McDermott from

The Internal Revenue Service provides taxpayers with a couple different ways to retrieve tax returns from past years. You can obtain a tax transcript or a full copy of a tax return from a previous year. A tax return transcript is free of charge and shows the majority of the line entries from your tax form, including supplemental forms. Tax account transcripts, on the other hand, include any changes the IRS may have made after you filed, but only have basic data about the taxpayer. You can order either transcript type by phone or mail. If you need an actual copy of a tax return, you must pay £37 and mail in the correct form.

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    Obtain Tax Transcript

  1. 1

    Call 1-800-829-1040 to order a transcript by phone. Follow the automated response prompts to provide information about your tax return and request either a tax return or tax account transcript.

  2. 2

    Visit the IRS web site to order a transcript by mail instead. Download and fill out Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return (see Resources). If you are an individual who filed a 1040 tax return, you can use For 4506-EZ to request a transcript of a tax return. You need Form 4506-T to order a tax account transcript.

  3. 3

    Mail the order form to the address listed on the form for your state where you filed the return. Await your tax transcript. A tax return transcript should be delivered in about 10 business days after the IRS receives your request. A tax account transcript will take about 30 days.

    Obtain Copy of Tax Return

  1. 1

    Visit the IRS web site. Download and fill out Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Form (see Resources). Copies are available for the past six years.

  2. 2

    Send the completed form with a check or money order for £37 to the address that applies to your state where you filed your return.

  3. 3

    Await delivery of the tax return, which should take about 60 days.

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