Need Your Old Tax Info? Don’t Worry, Here’s How You Get It

Everyone knows that you need to keep copies of tax returns for seven years.  But the reality is that it's not always that easy in today's busy, on-the-go world.  What can you do if you need your tax information but you don't have any copies? There's good news - it's easier to solve this problem than you might think.

What Are Tax Transcripts?

The IRS receives copies of some of the same tax documents that all taxpayers received from employers or clients.   These are called your tax transcripts.  Copies of all W-2s and 1099s are stored by the IRS and can be accessed through their website at any time. Additionally, when you file taxes using Form 1040 each spring, these are also kept as a resource that you can tap into using the official IRS website.  There is a short waiting period of about 3 weeks to access returns you recently filed during the current tax season. 

How Do You Get a Transcript?

On the main page of the IRS website is a link titled, "Get Transcript of Your Tax Records."  After clicking on this link, you will be asked a series of questions to verify your identity.  Such questions include information gleaned from public records or credit history, just like your bank may use to verify your identity. 

Once your identity has been confirmed, you may either choose to create an account (if you will be accessing this information more than once) or to continue as a guest (for one-time access) to view your documents.  Each taxpayer's tax transcript record contains information and tax returns for the current year as well as the prior three years. Taxpayers who filed joint returns can access their shared tax records even if both parties are not present.  However, as a security measure, your accountant or tax preparer is not authorized to get this information on your behalf.   

Why Might You Need One?

Most of the time, tax transcripts are used for those who need to file or amend prior year returns and don't have access to copies of their original income documents.  In addition, someone who filed a joint return with a spouse may not have access to their returns in the event of a separation, custody issue or divorce.   

Whether you've been putting off filing or just need your old tax information, the IRS' tax transcript is a good place to start.  Your tax preparer or accountant can help you navigate the process if necessary. Contact a company like Capital Accounting And Tax Service Inc for more information.