How to Access Frequently Requested IRS Records

Your Guide to State, Local, Federal, Estate + International Taxation

Okay, let’s get right to the big one first. You need a copy of a previously filed personal tax return and for whatever reason, you don’t have one. Lost, stolen, fire, flood, or perhaps the dog ate it (my lab probably would). Maybe you’re getting a bank loan, you’re being audited (and yes, the IRS agent may ask for a copy even though they have it), or maybe your future spouse wants to take his or her due diligence to another level. How do you go about getting a copy of your tax return or other frequently requested IRS records? The IRS gives you some options.

Send a completed IRS Form 4506 (available from the IRS web site) to the address provided in the form’s instructions to receive copies of your tax returns as originally filed. The IRS charges a fee of $50 for each copy provided (ouch!). If you are web challenged, you can call the IRS hotline at (800) 829-3676 and have the form mailed to you.

Maybe a “transcript” of your tax return will work for you? For example, some colleges and loan originators will accept IRS “transcripts” vs. actual tax return copies. The good news with these is that they are free. Individuals can call (800) 908-9946 or (800) 829-4933 for business transcripts.

Doing some due diligence on a charity you’re thinking of making a big donation to? You can get tax-exempt or political organization returns or other documents that are publicly available by filing a Form 4506-A, or by calling (877) 829-5500.

By Dale F. Jensen, CPA