Keep Track of Past Tax Returns

There are many reasons why you may need to obtain a copy of a past tax return. Perhaps you simply lost your copy or there is a pressing financial transaction on the line. Overall, it is important to understand how to request a copy of past tax returns so you can access that information in a timely manner.

Depending on what type of information you need from your past tax return, you may choose to request an exact copy or a more basic transcript. You can request an exact copy of a past tax return from the IRS dating back 6 years. However, transcripts of tax returns are only available for the past 3 years.

What You Need Past Tax Returns For?

1. You Lost Tax Documents

You may need a copy of your tax return if you lost tax documents for a particular year. In this case, you should get in touch with the IRS to request the past returns that you need. This can be done by submitting Form 4506 (Request for Copy of Tax Return) or Form 4506-T (Request for Transcript of Tax Return).

2. You Are Applying For a Loan

Are you applying for a student loan or a mortgage loan? If so, the lender will request your financial information, which includes past tax information. While every lender is different, most will require a copy of your most recent tax return. In some cases (e.g., if you are applying for a mortgage loan) tax returns for the past 2-3 years may be required. While a tax return transcript may be enough for some lenders to make an informed decision, you should always check to make sure.

3. You are refinancing your mortgage

You may also need a copy of a past tax return if you want to modify or refinance your mortgage. The IRS created Form 4506T-EZ (Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript) for taxpayers who filed Form 1040 and who want to obtain, modify, or refinance a mortgage loan. You can have copies of tax returns mailed directly to you or the IRS can send them to a third party for you.

There are many reasons why you may need to get a copy of a past tax return. Luckily, requesting a past return (whether an exact copy or a transcript) is simple enough for any taxpayer to do.

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