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As I've said before, one of my most frequent requests from clients and friends is how to get a copy of a tax return quickly. This is usually because they are trying to get a loan.
The IRS has suspended the ability to get a transcript online due to security issues, so I'm reposting my original information from before they made transcripts available:
One of my most frequent off-season question is how to get a copy of a current or prior year tax return. Usually this involves buying a house, so time is of the essence, and, of course, everything's in storage because there's a move in progress. I'll be honest that this post is primarily to give me a quick link to provide to my customers when I'm traveling and my phone is my internet, but everyone should find it useful. Many of these methods will only get a Federal copy, but that's usually all you need.
The first lesson here is that the last two year's tax returns should be accessible, even during a move, either in paper or electronic format. Think of them in the category of passports, wills, insurance documents and car titles. That being said, if you're reading this, then it's probably too late for that advice.
So here's my list of ways to get a tax return, with cost, time and ease included. I'll give details on how to do most methods by number below the list:
1. Online via your tax preparer or software site, free, same day, ease varies widely based on who and how you file, but I would try this first
2. Local IRS office, free, same day, somewhat inconvenient (latest tax return may not be available until after tax season)
3. Your tax preparer, may be a small fee, usually same day, may be less inconvenient than the IRS, depending on where you live
4. The IRS website for a transcript, free, 5-10 days, easy, if the address to be mailed to is not the address on the tax return, you cannot do this (see 5) if you need an actual copy of your return (you probably don't need a copy, if the person asking for a copy insists, push back, they're being stupid - see 6).
5. Form 4506-T for a transcript, free, 7-21 days, easy
6. Form 4506 for a copy of your return, $57 per year requested, 60 days, easy
1. If you e-filed with a service, or filed online, they usually have a way to get a copy of your return. I'll list the big ones with what I know below: (No promises on accuracy or detail)
H&R Block: Go to www.hrblock.com and click on the orange "My Account" button in the upper right. If you have an account already, login and there will be a button for "View Tax Returns". They will ask a few questions from your tax returns (addresses, employers, etc.) and then you will have access to the returns. If you don't have an account setup, just click on create new account, and do the above once you are logged in. If you used approve online, you can go to www.hrblock.com/approve and login with the information you used to approve your tax return and get a copy there.
Liberty Tax: This is the link, but it's been down for a while: Tax Return Downloader
Jackson Hewitt: Go to http://www.jacksonhewitt.com/ and follow basically the same instructions for H&R Block (they pretty much copy everything Block does)
Turbo Tax: I haven't used them in a long time, but this link says you can get a copy: https://myturbotax.intuit.com/?priorityCode=3468337910
2. Believe it or not, this is often the fastest (days-wise, not your time-wise) and cheapest way to get a transcript of your tax return, as well as W-2 transcripts. A transcript is a line by line detail of the information on your tax return, and is acceptable for 99% of the things you would need a copy for. You may have to wait a while in the office (it's first come, first served), but once it's your turn, it takes no time at all. Just make sure you have ID! This link has a bit more info, as well as a way to find your local office: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Contact-Your-Local-IRS-Office-1
3. Call your tax guy! This is what you pay him for. Depending on their document storage system, or their corporate penny pinchers, they may charge 10 or twenty bucks (more if you need W-2 copies). They should be able to print you a copy of your federal and state return right away. You may need to go to a different office than your original, and the hours may be more limited, but the number on their business card should get answered and have the information you need to get to an open office. Always call ahead after April 15th!!!
4. If you live or get mail at the address on the tax return, this is the easiest (though not the fastest). You don't even need to leave the house! Just go right here: http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Order-a-Transcript, follow the instructions, and you're done! There's even a phone number if you want. Just to be clear, this gets you a transcript, which should be good for anything you need a tax return for. It also takes 5 to 10 days.
5. If you're not at the address on your tax return, this is the way to get a transcript. Takes a bit longer, but almost as easy: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4506t.pdf
6. If you absolutely must have a copy of the return (you really don't - you're just dealing with a jerk) this is the way to do it. Takes 60 days and costs $57 per year requested! http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4506.pdf