Getting a Transcript


Tax Transcripts are often used to validate your income and tax filing status for things like mortgage applications, student loans, and small business loan applications. They can also be useful when you’re getting ready to prepare and file your tax return.

There are several different kinds of Tax Transcripts:

Tax Return

A Tax Return transcript is the one most people need. It shows most items from your return (income, deductions, etc.) as you originally filed it. 

Tax Account

If you or the IRS adjusted your return after filing, a Tax Account transcript includes these changes.

Record of Account

If you need the information from both the Tax Return and Tax Account transcript, then get a Record of Account

Wage and Income

Wage and Income transcripts show the information from documents the IRS receives from people who have either paid you income (like wages) or received money from you (like mortgage interest). Examples include Forms W-2, 1099, and 1098.

Verification of Non-filing Letter

A Verification of Non-filing Letter can serve as proof that you didn’t file a return this year.

You can request a transcript online, by phone, or by mail.

IRS.gov – Get a Transcript 

There is no fee for transcripts.

Make sure you’ve filed your returns and the IRS has processed them before requesting a transcript. The IRS can’t provide certain transcripts if the return isn’t processed.

If you filed your return electronically, it will be about 3 weeks before the tax transcript is available.

If you mailed your return, it will take approximately 6 weeks. 

[NOTE: If you didn’t pay all the taxes you owe, your return and your transcript may not be available until mid-May, or a week after you pay the full amount owed.]

Some notes on privacy:

When you request a transcript online or by phone, the IRS must verify that you’re the taxpayer or are authorized to receive this information (for example, you have a valid power of attorney filed with the IRS for the relevant tax period).

You can ask the IRS to send a transcript to you or to a third party (for example, a lender). Once the IRS sends your tax information to a third party, it has no control over what the third party does with it. If you’d like to limit how the third party uses your information, you can specify this in a written agreement with the third party.

Requesting a Transcript Online

In the past, the IRS allowed taxpayers to download copies of their transcripts. Currently, that system is unavailable. You can still use the online system to request that a transcript be mailed to you.

The IRS has an online system for getting a transcript:

IRS.gov - Get Transcript on IRS.gov.

Currently you can get copies of your transcripts mailed to you at the address the IRS has on record for you.

The system will ask for personal information and then ask you to indicate which type of transcript you want.

Requesting a Transcript by Phone 

The IRS has a toll-free line for requesting transcripts. Call 1-800-908-9946. This line is only for transcripts and will walk you through the steps. You can request up to ten transcripts per call. 

Requesting a Transcript by Mail

To request a free transcript, complete IRS Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return and mail it to the IRS at the address provided on the form. 

Requesting Copies of Other Forms

To obtain a copy of the W-2 or Form 1099 you filed with your return, first contact the employer who issued it. If you still need a copy from the IRS, complete Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return and mail it to the IRS with the fee listed on the form, currently $50.00. 

Remember: If you only need the information from your tax return or information return and don’t need an actual copy, you can request a Tax Return Transcript or Wage and Investment Transcript instead, which are free.

A note about FAFSA

If you’re looking for tax information to help you file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you may not need a transcript. The IRS Data Retrieval tool works from within your FAFSA application to import your financial information directly from the IRS to your application. You can use this tool when you get to the Financial Information part of the application.

Requesting a transcript online or by phone will get you the documents you need from the IRS quickly and efficiently. However, some taxpayers can’t request a Transcript from IRS.gov or on the phone. These include:

  • Those who can’t answer the e-authentication questions
  • Victims of identity theft
  • Taxpayers filing returns for the first time
  • Those with no Internet access or email address

Alternatives to Transcripts

If for some reason you can’t get a transcript, home mortgage lenders may accept other documents. Some examples:

  • Copies of returns filed with a state or local government taxing authority
  • IRS Forms W-2 or similar IRS forms used for reporting wages or tax withholding
  • Payroll statements, including military leave and earnings statements
  • Financial institution records
  • Records from your employer or a third party that obtained information from the employer
  • Records from a federal, state, or local government agency stating your income from benefits or entitlements
  • Receipts from check cashing services
  • Receipts from a funds transfer service

IRS.gov –Get a Transcript

IRS Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return

IRS Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return  

IRS Transcript toll free number: 1-800-908-9946

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Information on Identity Theft

The right to be informed

The right to quality service

The right to pay no more than the correct amount of tax

The right to confidentiality, which means the IRS cannot disclose your tax return information to other persons unless you have authorized it or the law provides an exception.

Have a different tax issue? Browse common issues and situations at Get Help.

Is your tax problem more complex? If your issue is causing you financial hardship, you have tried repeatedly and are not receiving a response from the IRS, or you feel your taxpayer rights are being violated, consider contacting TAS.

Do you feel that you need help from a tax professional but can’t afford one? You may be eligible for representation from an attorney, CPA, or enrolled agent associated with a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.

Last modified July 1, 2016