Taxpayers, especially businesses, are always encouraged to save copies of all their tax returns for at least three years. There might be instances in the future where the need to provide information from these returns will arise, such as applying for a working capital loan, buying a new building, or even as simple as switching CPAs or attorneys. But what if you can’t find a copy of your tax return? The good news is, you can get a copy of your tax return transcript from the IRS.
A transcript is a summary of the return information submitted to the IRS. Businesses can get two types of transcripts: a tax return transcript or a tax account transcript. Before requesting a copy of the transcript, the taxpayer should determine which transcript best meets their needs. A tax return transcript shows most line items such as the adjusted gross income from a tax return, along with the forms and schedules, as originally filed. However, it does not show changes made after the original filing. This transcript is available for the current year, as well as the returns processed in the last three years. A tax account transcript shows basic data such as the return type, adjusted gross income, taxable income, and all payments made. It also shows the changes made after the original return was filed.
There are three ways to request a transcript, and the easiest way is to order it online. The IRS offers a tool called “Get Transcript” on its website, IRS.gov. With the Secure Access process, you must prove your identity by answering specific questions related to yourself or your business. Another way to order a transcript is by calling the IRS hotline 1-800-908-9946. However, you’ll probably be put on hold for a long time, an hour or two, if you call them around tax season. If you are not in a rush, you can also order the transcripts by mail. You just have to complete a specific form (4506 series) and mail it to the address in the form’s instructions. Of course, the fastest & easiest way is to use 4506-transcripts.com.
If you need an actual copy of a tax return, you can get one for the current tax year from the IRS for up to the last six years. In this case, you need to order it by mail using Form 4506. Keep in mind that orders placed online and by phone are processed in 5 to 10 business days. Those requested via mail can take up between 30 to 75 business days.