Any individual must know how to request an IRS non-filing letter properly to obtain this important documentation that proves legal non-payment of taxes.
How a Taxpayer Can Receive and Use an IRS Non-Filing Letter
1. Understand the Purpose of an IRS Verification of Non-Filing Letter and Why You Might Need One
The IRS non-filing letter proves that an individual did not pay any taxes for the year and that his or her non-payment is legal and just. Typically called a VNF letter by tax professionals, the IRS does not give out a VNF automatically, unlike most IRS notices and letters taxpayers usually receive.
Specifically, the letter confirms that the taxpayer does not have any Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ on record.
Why would someone request a VNF letter?
Students mainly ask the IRS for a VNF for many reasons. However, the most common reason is to get financial aid.
Other requestors include incapacitated individuals who are legal adults (like comatose individuals), as well as a newly naturalized citizen who has not earned any income yet in the US.
Most NGOs, charities and other social enterprises ask for a VNF as well.
Important: An IRS non-filing letter is available only after June 15 of the tax year. If the VNF refers to at least three tax years prior, then the taxpayer can request for the VNF any time.
2. Choose the Delivery Method That Works Best for the Case
Taxpayers can request for the VNF either via mail or through the online portal.
Both avenues actually do not cost anything. However, the IRS may take some time to process the request.
Important: Usually, only taxpayers who have previously filed taxes can use the online request for the VNF letter. The reason lies with the tax transcript and documentation; the IRS has no record of non-taxpayers, which means most VNF requestors must go the paper route.
Requesting the IRS non-filing letter through the online portal only takes a few minutes. The IRS then automatically populates a VNF letter the taxpayer can print right away.
On the other hand, a mailed request may take some time, since most requesters who also do not have previous tax records use this method. Usually, the taxpayer can receive the letter in 5 to 10 business days from the successful validation date by the IRS.
3. For Online Requests, Follow These Steps
- Go to the IRS Website Get My Transcript Page
- Around the lower center part of the page inside the Request Online Box, click the button Get Transcript Online.
- Either create an account or log in using your credentials.
- For first-time requestors, make sure to prepare beforehand your Full Name, Email, Birthdate, Tax Filing Status, Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN), and Current Address.
- Once the IRS accepts the necessary identifying information, the site will ask for the reason why the taxpayer is requesting for the VNF. Most of the time, the taxpayer chooses Higher Education/Student Aid.
- Once logged in, the taxpayer can select Verification of Non-filing letter and enter the tax year required.
- Print out the prepared IRS non-filing letter.
- Add other information requested. For example, students applying for aid may need to add a student ID number for the college requesting the VNF.
4. For Taxpayers Looking for a Paper Record, He or She Must Properly Fill out IRS Form 4506-T
For the mailed letter, the taxpayer can either 1) apply for the form via mail online, or 2) download the form directly.
To get the VNF, a taxpayer must first send IRS Form 4506-T.
After the taxpayer has the form on hand, they should:
- Fill out the information asked in lines 1 to 4 of the form.
- Reminder: Line 3 must show what the IRS has on record.
- If the taxpayer wants the IRS non-filing letter sent to a different address, use Line 5. Line 5 usually supersedes the address in Line 3, which means that while Line 3 is necessary, answering line 5 changes where the letter goes to.
- Check the box for Line 7.
- Enter the tax year requested for Line 9. Please use the month/day/year format, so if it is for the tax year 2018, please use 12/31/2018.
- Please do not forget to complete the signatory part at the bottom of the form. The lack of signatures and information will lead to a null and void form.
- For those trying find a fax number and mailing address, just head to the second page.
Understand that it may take the IRS some time before receiving and processing the Form 4506-T. Generally, the requestor can receive the VNF within 5 to 10 days.
5. Note That If the Taxpayer Has a Tax Record, He or She Should Ask for an IRS Transcript Instead
Specifically, if the taxpayer did file taxes, even if it was for a tax refund or credit, the IRS will not release a VNF.
Any taxpayer can easily find out if they have a tax return filed.
They can go directly to the IRS website using the same login when requesting a VNF letter. In fact, they can get an IRS transcript right away by simply clicking the Get Transcript Online button.
Another option is to simply call the IRS. They can confirm the information via phone or send a copy of the transcript via mail provided the taxpayer follows the instructions.
An option most taxpayers do not avail is the visitation of their local IRS office. These Experts usually provide a lot of specialized help, and can even give options and suggestions that the taxpayer does not know.
6. Don’t Miss This Crucial Information About the IRS Non-Filing Letter Process
To check the correct address, taxpayers should use the USPS Zip code lookout.
Taxpayers who have filed previously can safely use the information on their previous tax returns for contact information unless it has changed.
If the IRS cannot send a VNF letter, even if the taxpayer followed the steps religiously, then an alternative is usually available. Most VNF requestors allow a signed statement that 1) the taxpayer did his best to obtain the VNF and 2) due to no fault of the taxpayer, the authorities cannot provide the document.
Alternatively, taxpayers may find that employing a tax advocate specialist to be more efficient rather than do the IRS non-filing letter process.
The IRS non-filing letter process may seem daunting, but in actual practice is very simple. As long as the taxpayer has enough time and preparation, he or she can get the VNF reasonably early.
Have you gone through the IRS non-filing letter process before? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below.
If you owe back taxes, visit taxreliefcenter.org for more information on tax relief options.