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How Do I Request Prior Year Federal Tax Returns?

Updated for Tax Year 2019


OVERVIEW

You can request prior tax returns, for a fee, from the IRS.


If you can’t find one of your old tax returns, there’s no reason to worry. The IRS can provide you with a copy of it if you prepare Form 4506. The IRS keeps copies of all returns you file for at least seven years. However, if the tax return you want is older than this, there’s a possibility it may not be available.

Step 1—Obtain a copy of IRS Form 4506

Search the IRS website for Form 4506 and print a hard copy to fill out. The IRS will not process your tax return request without the form.

Step 2—Provide complete and accurate information on Form 4506

The top portion of the form requires you to enter your personal details as it appears on the original tax return you are requesting. At a minimum, the name and Social Security number you provide must match the original return. If you filed your original return jointly, you must include your spouse’s full name and Social Security number as well.

If you are no longer married, it’s not necessary for your former spouse to sign Form 4506 or even provide consent. If you’ve moved since filing the return, you must also provide your current address. The IRS gives you the option of having the return sent directly to a third party if you provide their name, phone number and address.

Step 3—Choose the tax years you want returns for

You can request more than one tax return on Form 4506; however, you must indicate the type of form you used to file each one, such as a Form 1040, 1040-SR, 1040A or 1040EZ. In the next section of Form 4506, you must provide the tax years you are requesting. For example, if you are requesting a tax return from 2018, the IRS asks you to enter “12/31/2018” rather than just “2018".

Step 4—Mail Form 4506 and payment

Mail Form 4506 and your payment to the appropriate IRS office. The IRS charges a fee for each tax year you request a return for. As of 2019, the fee for each one is $50 and you can make payment by check or money order, payable to the U.S. Treasury.

Also include your Social Security number and the notation “Form 4506 request” on your check or money order. After signing the bottom of the form, check the instructions to determine the appropriate IRS address. Note that the IRS office you mail it to depends on your address at the time of filing the tax return, not your current address.

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