South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

How to get a transcript or a copy of a prior year tax return


There are many reasons why taxpayers should keep a copy of their federal tax return. For example, they may need it to answer an IRS inquiry. They may also need it to apply for a student loan or a home mortgage. If they can’t find their tax return, the IRS can provide a copy or give them a transcript of the tax information they need.

Here’s how to get federal tax return information from the IRS:

1. Transcripts are free and taxpayers can get them for the current year and the past three years. In most cases, a transcript includes all the information needed.

2. A tax return transcript shows most line items from the tax return originally filed. It also includes items from any accompanying forms and schedules filed. It does not reflect any changes made after the original return was filed.

3. A tax account transcript shows any changes either the taxpayer or the IRS made to their tax return after it was filed. This transcript includes marital status, the type of return filed, the taxpayers adjusted gross income and taxable income.

4. Taxpayers 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.

5. To request a 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ tax return transcript 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.

6. If a taxpayer orders online or by phone, they should receive their tax return transcript within five to 10 calendar days. They should allow 30 calendar days for delivery of a tax account transcript if they order by mail.

7. If they 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. Allow 60 days for delivery. 

8. If a taxpayer lives in a Presidentially declared disaster area, the IRS may waive the fee to obtain copies of their tax returns. Visit and select the ‘Disaster Relief’ link in the lower left corner of the page for more about IRS disaster assistance.

9. Forms 4506, 4506-T and 4506T-EZ are available at or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).


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