How to Get a Copy of Prior Year Returns

tax filing

There are many reasons you may need to obtain a copy of your tax information from a prior year.  You may need it when applying for a home mortgage, credit card or student loan.  If you don’t have your copy, it’s easy to get a free transcript from the IRS.

  • Tax Return Transcript.  A return transcript shows most line items from your tax return just as you filed it, and includes forms and schedules filed.  However, it does not reflect any changes made after filing that return.  In most cases, your tax return transcript will have all the information needed.
  • Tax Account Transcript.  This transcript shows any adjustments made by you or the IRS after you filed your return.  It shows basic data like marital status, type of return, adjusted gross income and taxable income.

How do I get a Transcript?  You can request transcripts online, by phone or by mail.  Both types of transcripts are free of charge.  They are available for the most current tax year after the IRS has processed the return, as well as the past three tax years.

Order online.  Use the “Get Transcript” tool available on  You can use this tool to confirm your identity and immediately view and print copies of your transcript in a single session for free.  The tool is available for five types of tax records:  tax account transcript, tax return transcript, record of account, wage and income, and verification of non-filing.

Order by phone.   Call 800-908-9946 and a recorded message will guide you through the process.

Order by mail.  The easy way to order your transcript by mail is to use the “Get Transcript by Mail” online option on  You can complete and mail Form 4506T-EZ to request your tax return transcript, or Form 4506-T to request your tax account transcript.

  • How to get a Tax Return copy.  Actual copies of your tax returns are generally available for the current year, and as far back as six years, with a fee of $50 per copy.   To request a copy of your tax return, complete and mail Form 4506 to the IRS office listed on the form for your area.

Delivery time for online and phone orders typically take 5 to 10 days from the time the IRS receives the request.  You should allow 30 days to receive a transcript ordered by mail, and 75 days for copies of your tax return. 

You can print tax forms online at or to receive forms in the mail, go to to place an order.