How to Retrieve Past Tax Returns

The Internal Revenue Service provides taxpayers with a couple different ways to retrieve tax returns from past years. You can obtain a tax transcript or a full copy of a tax return from a previous year. A tax return transcript is free of charge and shows the majority of the line entries from your tax form, including supplemental forms. Tax account transcripts, on the other hand, include any changes the IRS may have made after you filed, but only have basic data about the taxpayer. You can order either transcript type by phone or mail. If you need an actual copy of a tax return, you must pay £37 and mail in the correct form.

Call 1-800-829-1040 to order a transcript by phone. Follow the automated response prompts to provide information about your tax return and request either a tax return or tax account transcript.

Visit the IRS web site to order a transcript by mail instead. Download and fill out Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return (see Resources). If you are an individual who filed a 1040 tax return, you can use For 4506-EZ to request a transcript of a tax return. You need Form 4506-T to order a tax account transcript.

Mail the order form to the address listed on the form for your state where you filed the return. Await your tax transcript. A tax return transcript should be delivered in about 10 business days after the IRS receives your request. A tax account transcript will take about 30 days.

Visit the IRS web site. Download and fill out Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Form (see Resources). Copies are available for the past six years.

Send the completed form with a check or money order for £37 to the address that applies to your state where you filed your return.

Await delivery of the tax return, which should take about 60 days.

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About the Author

Amy Dombrower is a journalist and freelance writer living in Chicago. She worked in the newspaper industry for three years and enjoys writing about technology, health, paper crafts and life improvement. Some of her passions are graphic design, movies, music and fitness. Dombrower earned her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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