What Is a Tax Transcript and How Do You Get One?

What is a tax transcript?

A tax transcript summarizes your key tax information. You can order transcripts of past tax returns, tax accounts, wage and income statements, and verification of non-filing letters. To protect your privacy, some of your personal information may only be partially displayed. However, you will be able to see the full details of your financial and tax-related entries.

What are the different types of tax transcripts?

The IRS offers five types of transcripts, and you can learn more about each one below.

  • Tax Return Transcript – Shows most of the line items found on your original tax return including your AGI. You can request one for the current tax year and the previous three years.
  • Tax Account Transcript – Provides basic data like your filing status, taxable income, and payment type. It can also confirm that estimated payments were applied and show any changes that were made after you filed your original return. You can request one for the current tax year and nine prior tax years online or with Form 4506-T. If making your request by mail or phone, you can only get the current year and up to three previous years.
  • Record of Account Transcript – This transcript combines the information from your tax return and tax account transcripts. It is available for the current tax year and three prior tax years.
  • Wage and Income Transcript – Reports the data from your W-2s, 1098s, 1099s, and IRA contributions. You can request this transcript for the current and nine prior tax years online or using Form 4506-T. The current tax year information may not be available until late May.
  • Verification of Non-filing Letter – Shows proof that the IRS didn’t receive a Form 1040 from you for a particular year. However, it does not indicate whether you were required to file that year. You can request it online for the current tax year and three prior years. If you need a letter for older tax years, you must submit Form 4506-T. This letter is available after June 15th for the current tax year.

What is a tax transcript used for?

Ideally, you want to keep your tax records for at least 3 years after you’ve filed. If you misplaced your tax documents and need information from a past return, you could request your tax transcript for the answers you need. It includes your adjusted gross income, wages, and other income information.

Tax transcripts are also commonly used to prove your past income. When you apply for a loan, most lenders require proof of income to determine your qualification. A tax transcript can be used to verify your income for a mortgage, small business loan, or an auto loan. You or your child may also need a tax transcript when filling out the Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA) for financial aid and college scholarships.

Need your tax transcript?

No problem. You can get a free copy from the IRS by making your request online, by mail or over the phone. Tax transcripts can be used to prove your income when you apply for a loan or financial aid. Plus, it can come in handy if you need tax information but lost your original tax return.

How do I get my tax transcripts?

You can get your tax transcript immediately online by visiting the IRS website and following these steps.

  • On the IRS homepage, click the “Get your tax record” link.
  • Scroll down to the “Request Online” section and click the “Get Transcript Online” button.
  • Sign in or create a new account.

Before you can view and download your transcript, you will be asked to verify your identity. So, have your Social Security number and photo ID handy. You’ll also need access to your preferred email address.

If you can’t get your transcript online, you have two other options.

  • Request your transcript by mail.
    • Visit the IRS Get Your Tax Record page.
    • Select “Get Transcript by Mail”.
    • Arrives in 5-10 days.
  • Call the IRS automated phone transcript service at 800-908-9946.
    • Arrives in 5-10 days.

Are you ready to start your return?