As people are filing their taxes, the IRS reminds taxpayers to hang onto their tax records. Generally, the IRS recommends keeping copies of tax returns and supporting documents at least three years. Taxpayers should keep some documents — such as those related to real estate sales — for three years after filing the return on which they reported the transaction.
Use a Tax Return to Validate Identity
Taxpayers using a tax filing software product for the first time may need their adjusted gross income amount from their prior year’s tax return to verify their identity. Taxpayers can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign tax returns at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.
Those who need a copy of their tax return should check with their software provider or tax preparer first, as prior-year tax returns are available from the IRS for a fee.
Order a Transcript
Taxpayers who cannot get a copy of a prior-year return may order a tax transcript from the IRS. A transcript summarizes return information and includes AGI. They’re free and available for the most current tax year after the IRS has processed the return. People can also get them for the past three years.
The IRS reminds people ordering a transcript to plan ahead, because delivery times for online and phone orders typically take five to 10 days from the time the IRS receives the request. Taxpayers who order by mail should allow 30 days to receive transcripts and 75 days for tax returns.
There are three ways for taxpayers to order a transcript:
Those who need an actual copy of a tax return can get one for the current tax year and as far back as six years. The fee per copy is $50. Taxpayers can complete and mail Form 4506 to request a copy of a tax return and mail the request to the appropriate IRS office listed on the form.
If taxpayers need information to verify payments within the last 18 months or a tax amount owed, they can view their tax account.
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