There are multiple situations where you need to find out what the IRS knows about you. It could be for the purpose of obtaining a loan, refinancing your house, or continuing your citizenship status. Possibly you are a few years behind on filing tax returns and need to know where to start. Or maybe you lost a return and simply need a copy for your personal records. Here are three items that will help you see what the IRS has on file for you:
- Tax return transcripts and account transcripts: A tax return transcript is a summary document that shows most line items and amounts from your original return. It also includes the forms and schedules filed with the return. A tax account transcript has basic high level information such as return type, filing status and adjusted gross income. It will also show if an amendment has been filed. Both types of transcripts are available for the current tax year and the prior three years (ten years for account transcripts), and are often acceptable proof of income for loans, mortgages and financial aid. Transcripts from the IRS are free and can be viewed online or mailed to your home within 5-10 days.
- Copies of tax returns: If a transcript is not sufficient, you can request an actual copy of the tax return as far back as six years. The current fee per copy is $50 and can take 75 days to receive. The fee is waived if you live in a federally declared disaster area.
- Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) document request: If you are looking for IRS records besides your returns, a FOIA request might be for you. Per the IRS, “the FOIA applies to records either created or obtained by an agency and under agency control at the time of the FOIA request.” In order to receive the documents, submit a detailed request and conduct the necessary fee calculation. According to the FOIA, the IRS must provide records unless they fall under a handful of exemptions or exclusions. Examples of exemptions are records that have classified information or are involved in an ongoing investigation. The fee and response time varies by the scope of the request. A FOIA request is a good place to start if you have past due tax returns that need to be filed or are at odds with the IRS regarding an audit decision.
No matter what your tax situation is, it’s good to know what your options are if the time comes that you need to get information from the IRS. Please call if you need help making a request.