Read on to learn what an IRS tax transcript is, when you will need one, and how you can request a copy from the IRS.
In this article:
- What Is an IRS Tax Transcript?
- How Is an IRS Tax Transcript Different from a Tax Return?
- Which IRS Tax Transcript Do I Need?
- When Will I Need an IRS Tax Transcript?
- How Many Years Are IRS Tax Transcript Requests Valid?
- Where Can We Get an IRS Tax Transcript?
- How Long Until the Delivery of My IRS Tax Transcript?
- How Secure Is an IRS Tax Transcript?
IRS Tax Transcript: Things You Need to Know
1. What Is an IRS Tax Transcript?
An IRS tax transcript serves as a record of an individual’s tax-related information. This document contains details about one’s previous tax returns, with information such as the type of tax return filed in the past and the adjusted gross or taxable income.
2. How Is an IRS Tax Transcript Different from a Tax Return?
The IRS tax return is a document a taxpayer files for the IRS. This document determines an individual’s tax information and liability.
Meanwhile, the IRS tax return transcript is a document the taxpayer requests from the IRS. This document includes the information indicated in the tax return. It does not show, however, any changes applied to the tax return once it is already submitted to the IRS.
3. Which IRS Tax Transcript Do I Need?
There are 5 different kinds of transcripts one may request from the IRS:
- Tax Return Transcript. This is the most common type of IRS tax transcript. It shows declarations made on Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ. Amendments made after filing the tax return, however, do not show in this document.
- Tax Account Transcript. This document provides an overview of a tax account — information needed to make an accurate amended return. It reflects activities such as tax filings, withholdings, inquiries, and even penalties incurred.
- Record of Account Transcript. This document combines the tax return and tax account transcripts in one document.
- Wage and Income Transcript. This document shows data from returns given to a taxpayer. It reflects information on Forms W-2, 1099, 1098, and Form 5498.
- Verification of Non-filing Letter. This document provides proof that the IRS has no record of a filed Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ. The IRS automatically produces this document upon seeing that a taxpayer has no tax return. It doesn’t indicate, however, whether the IRS requires a taxpayer to file a return for a particular year.
4. When Will I Need an IRS Tax Transcript?
You will be needing an IRS tax transcript in the following scenarios:
- Tax Return Transcript – for a loan or financial aid application
- Record of Account Transcript – for filing an amended return, since it shows details from the original return plus the changes made
- Wage and Income Transcript – for filing late or extended tax returns, verifying employment, or keeping personal income records
- Verification of Non-filing Letter – for applications of public benefits that need proof of non-filing
5. How Many Years Are IRS Tax Transcript Requests Valid?
A taxpayer may request a copy of any IRS tax transcript for years covered by the following durations:
- Tax return transcript – current tax year and up to 3 years prior
- Tax account transcript – current tax year and up to 10 years prior (if requested online or personally) or up to 3 years prior (if requested via mail or phone)
- Record of account transcript – current tax year and up to 3 years (if requested online or personally)
- Wage and income transcript – current tax year and up to 10 years (if requested online or personally)
- Verification of non-filing letter – after June 15 for the current tax year and up to 3 years (if requested online or personally)
6. Where Can We Get an IRS Tax Transcript?
Taxpayers can make an IRS tax transcript request from the IRS for free. To get a transcript, taxpayers can make a request through any of the following steps:
- Via online. Taxpayers who will make an IRS tax transcript request online may use the Get Transcript tool on the IRS website. For online requests, one must register in the system for verification of tax identity. Upon registration, you’ll need to input login credentials and a security code.
- By mail. Taxpayers can request their transcripts via IRS’ Get Transcript by Mail.
- Through phone. Taxpayers may call 800-908-9946 to order the necessary transcripts.
- Personal request. Through Forms 4506-T or 4506T-EZ at the IRS.
For any of these request methods, the IRS will be asking for the requestor’s SSN or Individual Tax Identification Number, date of birth, and mailing address from the latest tax return. For business taxpayers, you may call the IRS at (800) 829-4933 for more information.
7. How Long Until the Delivery of My IRS Tax Transcript?
For any IRS tax transcript request made online or via phone, delivery of order takes 5 to 10 days. For requests made via mail, allow 30 days for the delivery of your transcript.
8. How Secure Is an IRS Tax Transcript?
The IRS developed a new transcript format to better protect tax information from identity theft. In this new format, the IRS masks information that will identify an individual. Other information will remain visible to assist in tax preparation.
Given this format, the information visible on the IRS transcript are the following:
- SNN: last four digits
- EIN: last four numbers
- Contact details: last four numbers
- Person’s surname: first four letters
- Business name: first four characters
- Address: first six characters
IRS developed this format to avoid thieves from using any possible information in the event that they illegally obtain an IRS tax transcript.
The IRS tax transcript is helpful for taxpayers to know information about tax filings, income, and other tax-related activities. There are different types of IRS tax transcript, so taxpayers must be familiar with each of them in order to request the right kind for a particular purpose.
Have you requested an IRS tax transcript from the IRS? Share with us your experience in the comments section below.