Let’s say you need an old tax record, for whatever reason. Maybe you’re filing for a loan and need to establish income going back several years. Maybe your records were destroyed in a fire or flood. Every circumstance most people can imagine, you can bet the IRS will have a tax form for it. If you need a copy of a tax return from a previous year, you’ll have to print, fill out and file Form 4506. Form 4506 comes in several variations. For a full tax return, you’ll need a standard Form 4506. If all you require is a Tax Return Transcript, the IRS can probably provide one free of charge if you file form 4506T.
Filling out a Form 4506 requires minimal, standard information. You’ll need your name, social security number, current address and the address used on the return. Married filers will also need the name and social security number of their spouse. If you’re having the return mailed to a third party, you’ll need their name and address also. If you’re having a return sent to a mortgage lender or other entity, check with them to make sure that you have the correct mailing address for the receiving office at the firm.
Most typical return forms (1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ) are available for up to seven years after being filed. After that, law dictates that these forms are destroyed. Other forms may be available for longer periods. Each 4506 is only good for one type of return. If you require more than one form, you’ll have to file another 4506. If you’re only requesting one type of form, you may request up to eight years or periods. So, if you need your Forms 1040 from eight different years, it’s only one 4506. If you require a 1040EZ from one year and a 1040A from another, you’ll need two Forms 4506. If you’re requesting business returns, such as a Form 941, you’ll need to separately enter each quarter or period.
Requesting a copy of your return also comes hand in hand with a fee. Each return will cost you $57, via check or money order made payable to “United States Treasury,” included with your Form 4506.
After that it’s only a matter of signing, dating, adding your phone number, mailing and waiting. Where you’ll mail your form varies depending on where you filed your return. Form 4506 comes complete with a list of states where your return was filed, and corresponding addresses where you’ll mail your request. Each request can take up to 60 calendar days to process. If you’re requesting a return filed by a corporation, Form 4506 must generally be signed by an officer with authority to bind the company, a designee of the board of directors, or any employee upon written request from a principal officer of the company.
Filling out Form 4506T or Form 4506T-EZ is similarly straightforward. One difference is that both only you to request up to four periods. If you’re only in need of a transcript, you may bypass Form 4506T and order via the IRS automated system by calling 1-800-829-1040. Should you need help filing your taxes this year, you may also want to consider both Turbo Tax and H&R Block. Their free online tax software can make your tax nightmares disappear.
Published or updated January 14, 2011.