Get Prior Year Tax Information from the IRS

There are many reasons to keep a copy of a tax return from a prior year. The IRS urges all taxpayers to keep copies of their tax returns for at least three years.

Taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Beginning in 2017, taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) amount from their prior-year 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. Prior year tax returns are available from IRS for a fee.

Tax Transcripts

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 are 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.

In applying for home mortgages or college financial aid, transcripts are often necessary. Mortgage companies, however, normally arrange to get one for a homeowner or potential homeowner. For people applying for college financial aid, they should use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool on the Department of Education website. This tool will easily import the tax transcript onto the financial aid application.

Taxpayers can get two types of transcripts from the IRS:

  • Tax Return Transcript.  A return transcript shows most line items on a tax return as originally filed. People who need their 2015 adjusted gross income for filing purposes will select this type of transcript and look for “adjusted gross income.”
  • Tax Account Transcript.  This type of transcript shows adjustments or amendments made by taxpayers or by the IRS to a filed return.

To get a transcript, people can:

  • Order Online. Use the ‘Get Transcript’ tool available on IRS.gov. There is a link to it under the red TOOLS bar on the front page. Those who use it must authenticate their identity using the rigorous Secure Access process.
  • Order by phone. The number is 800-908-9946.
  • Order by mail.  Complete and send either Form 4506-T or Form 4506T-EZ to the IRS to get one by mail. Use Form 4506-T to request other tax records: tax account transcript, record of account, wage and income and verification of non-filing. These forms are available on the Forms & Pubs page on IRS.gov.

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. Complete and mail Form 4506 to request a copy of a tax return. Mail the request to the appropriate IRS office listed on the form. People who live in a federally declared disaster area can get a free copy. More disaster relief information is available on IRS.gov.

Plan ahead. Delivery times for online and phone orders typically take five to 10 days from the time the IRS receives the request. You should allow 30 days to receive a transcript ordered by mail and 75 days for copies of your tax return.

IRS YouTube Videos:

Early Withdrawals from Retirement Plans

Many people find it necessary to take out money early from their IRA or retirement plan. Doing so, however, can trigger an additional tax on top of income tax taxpayers may have to pay. Here are a few key points to know about taking an early distribution:

  1. Early Withdrawals. An early withdrawal normally is taking cash out of a retirement plan before the taxpayer is 59½ years old.
  2. Additional Tax. If a taxpayer took an early withdrawal from a plan last year, they must report it to the IRS. They may have to pay income tax on the amount taken out. If it was an early withdrawal, they may have to pay an additional 10 percent tax.
  3. Nontaxable Withdrawals. The additional 10 percent tax does not apply to nontaxable withdrawals. These include withdrawals of contributions that taxpayers paid tax on before they put them into the plan. A rollover is a form of nontaxable withdrawal. A rollover occurs when people take cash or other assets from one plan and put the money in another plan. They normally have 60 days to complete a rollover to make it tax-free.
  4. Check Exceptions. There are many exceptions to the additional 10 percent tax. Some of the rules for retirement plans are different from the rules for IRAs.
  5. File Form 5329. If someone took an early withdrawal last year, they may have to file Form 5329, Additional Taxes on Qualified Plans (Including IRAs) and Other Tax-Favored Accounts, with their federal tax return. Form 5329 has more details.
  6. Use IRS e-file. Early withdrawal rules can be complex. IRS e-file is the easiest and most accurate way to file a tax return. The tax software that taxpayers use to e-file will pick the right tax forms, do the math and help get the tax benefits they are due. Seven out of 10 taxpayers qualify to use IRS Free File tax software. Free File is only available through the IRS website at IRS.gov/freefile.

More information on this topic is available on IRS.gov.

Taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Beginning in 2017, taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) amount from their prior-year 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.

Additional IRS Resources:

IRS Has Refunds Totaling $1 Billion for People Who Have Not Filed a 2013 Federal Income Tax Return

The Internal Revenue Service announced that unclaimed federal income tax refunds totaling more than $1 billion may be waiting for an estimated 1 million taxpayers who did not file a 2013 federal income tax return.

To collect the money, taxpayers must file a 2013 tax return with the IRS no later than this year’s tax deadline, Tuesday, April 18.

“We’re trying to connect a million people with their share of 1 billion dollars in unclaimed refunds for the 2013 tax year,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “People across the nation haven’t filed tax returns to claim these refunds, and their window of opportunity is closing soon. Students and many others may not realize they’re due a tax refund. Remember, there’s no penalty for filing a late return if you’re due a refund.”

The IRS estimates the midpoint for potential refunds for 2013 to be $763; half of the refunds are more than $763 and half are less.

In cases where a tax return was not filed, the law provides most taxpayers with a three-year window of opportunity for claiming a refund. If they do not file a return within three years, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury. For 2013 tax returns, the window closes April 18, 2017. The law requires taxpayers to properly address mail and postmark the tax return by that date.

The IRS reminds taxpayers seeking a 2013 refund that their checks may be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2014 and 2015. In addition, the refund will be applied to any amounts still owed to the IRS, or a state tax agency, and may be used to offset unpaid child support or past due federal debts, such as student loans.

By failing to file a tax return, people stand to lose more than just their refund of taxes withheld or paid during 2013. Many low-and-moderate income workers may have been eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). For 2013, the credit was worth as much as $6,044. The EITC helps individuals and families whose incomes are below certain thresholds. The thresholds for 2013 were:

  • $46,227 ($51,567 if married filing jointly) for those with three or more qualifying children;
  • $43,038 ($48,378 if married filing jointly) for people with two qualifying children;
  • $37,870 ($43,210 if married filing jointly) for those with one qualifying child, and;
  • $14,340 ($19,680 if married filing jointly) for people without qualifying children.

Current and prior year tax forms (such as the Tax Year 2013 Form 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ) and instructions are available on the IRS.gov Forms and Publications page or by calling toll-free: 800- TAX-FORM (800-829-3676). Taxpayers who are missing Forms W-2, 1098, 1099 or 5498 for the years 2013, 2014 or 2015 should request copies from their employer, bank or other payer.

Taxpayers who are unable to get missing forms from their employer or other payer should go to IRS.gov and use the “Get Transcript Online” tool to obtain a Wage and Income transcript.  Taxpayers can also file Form 4506-T to request a transcript of their 2013 income. A Wage and Income transcript shows data from information returns we receive such as Forms W-2, 1099, 1098 and Form 5498, IRA Contribution Information. Taxpayers can use the information on the transcript to file their tax return.

A state-by-state estimate of individuals who may be due 2013 tax refunds can be found below:

State or District Estimated

Number of

Individuals

Median

Potential

Refund

Total

Potential

Refunds*

Alabama 18,100 $729 $17,549,000
Alaska 4,700 $917 $5,665,000
Arizona 24,800 $650 $22,642,000
Arkansas 9,900 $722 $9,571,000
California 97,200 $696 $93,406,000
Colorado 20,200 $699 $19,454,000
Connecticut 11,500 $846 $12,691,000
Delaware 4,300 $776 $4,321,000
District of Columbia 3,200 $762 $3,341,000
Florida 66,900 $776 $67,758,000
Georgia 34,400 $671 $32,082,000
Hawaii 6,500 $793 $6,876,000
Idaho 4,500 $619 $3,919,000
Illinois 40,000 $834 $42,673,000
Indiana 21,700 $788 $22,060,000
Iowa 10,200 $808 $10,193,000
Kansas 11,100 $746 $10,700,000
Kentucky 12,900 $772 $12,627,000
Louisiana 20,300 $767 $21,209,000
Maine 4,000 $715 $3,645,000
Maryland 22,200 $770 $23,080,000
Massachusetts 23,000 $838 $24,950,000
Michigan 33,600 $763 $33,998,000
Minnesota 15,600 $691 $14,544,000
Mississippi 10,400 $702 $10,041,000
Missouri 22,400 $705 $20,787,000
Montana 3,600 $727 $3,480,000
Nebraska 5,300 $745 $5,084,000
Nevada 12,300 $753 $12,078,000
New Hampshire 4,400 $892 $4,930,000
New Jersey 29,900 $873 $33,207,000
New Mexico 8,100 $753 $8,162,000
New York 54,700 $847 $59,416,000
North Carolina 29,800 $656 $26,874,000
North Dakota 2,900 $888 $3,209,000
Ohio 36,000 $749 $34,547,000
Oklahoma 17,700 $773 $17,979,000
Oregon 15,500 $658 $14,188,000
Pennsylvania 39,400 $835 $41,078,000
Rhode Island 2,900 $796 $2,906,000
South Carolina 12,100 $674 $11,267,000
South Dakota 2,700 $823 $2,709,000
Tennessee 19,500 $743 $18,829,000
Texas 104,700 $829 $115,580,000
Utah 7,900 $667 $7,443,000
Vermont 2,000 $747 $1,859,000
Virginia 29,000 $752 $29,578,000
Washington 27,600 $829 $30,330,000
West Virginia 5,000 $855 $5,258,000
Wisconsin 12,700 $675 $11,619,000
Wyoming 2,800 $911 $3,189,000
Totals 1,042,100 $763 $1,054,581,000

* Excluding the Earned Income Tax Credit and other credits.

 

Tax Time Guide: Use IRS.gov to Find Qualified Tax Professionals

I often have clients ask me to recommend someone to do their company taxes. While I do have a list of very qualified people in the NWA area to pick from, you can also use the IRS.gov website to find someone in your area.  Check it out if you are looking for someone.

The Internal Revenue Service reminded taxpayers that IRS.gov offers many useful tips and information to find a qualified tax professional.

This is the third in a series of 10 IRS tips called the Tax Time Guide, designed to help taxpayers navigate common tax issues. This year’s tax-filing deadline is April 18.

More than 150 million individual returns were filed last year and over half of those were prepared by a paid return preparer. Taxpayers can use the IRS.gov/chooseataxpro website that includes a list of consumer tips for selecting a tax professional. There is also a page with IRS Tax Pro Association Partners that includes links to national nonprofit tax professional groups which can help taxpayers seeking the right type of qualified help.

Here are some basic tips to keep in mind when selecting a tax professional:

  • Select an ethical preparer. Taxpayers entrust vital personal data with the person preparing their tax return, including income, investments and Social Security numbers.
  • Review the tax return and ask questions before signing. Taxpayers are legally responsible for what’s on their tax return, regardless of whether someone else prepared it.
  • Make sure the preparer signs the return and includes their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). The vast majority of paid preparers are required to have a valid PTIN.
  • Never sign a blank tax return. It’s a clear red flag when a taxpayer is asked to sign a blank tax return. The preparer can put anything they want on the return — even their own bank account number for the tax refund.

In 2015, the IRS launched a Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications on the IRS website to help taxpayers verify credentials and qualifications of tax professionals. The Directory is a searchable, sortable database that includes the name, city, state and zip code of credentialed return preparers who are CPAs, enrolled agents or attorneys, as well as those who have completed the requirements for the IRS Annual Filing Season Program.

The IRS requires anyone who prepares any federal tax return for compensation to obtain a PTIN. Valid PTINs are issued by the IRS. There are almost 700,000 individuals with valid PTINs. Anyone with a valid PTIN can prepare and sign federal tax returns they prepare.

For more information, see:

Other tips in the Tax Time Guide are available on IRS.gov.