How do I get a Tax Return Transcript?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 24 August 2019
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To receive a tax return transcript, taxpayers need to call the government agency responsible for handling taxes and request one, or complete a form and fax it or send it through the mail. It is important to contact the right agency; someone who wants a federal tax return transcript in the United States, for instance, needs to address the request to the Internal Revenue Service, not to a state's individual tax agency. Usually, it takes around two weeks to receive a copy of the document.

For taxpayers in the United States looking for their federal transcripts, there are several options. One is to call the Internal Revenue Service and provide some identifying information so the agency can send out a copy. Another is to file a form, 4506-T, requesting a copy of the tax return transcript. It is important to avoid filing a form 4506, which is a request for a complete copy of the tax return. People need to offer some basic information so the IRS can correctly identify the taxpayer and pull the right paperwork.

The tax return transcript will include key information from the tax return, including listings for the major lines on the tax return. It does not include amendments or addendums. For these, people need to request a tax account transcript, which will show these changes. Form 4506-T provides an option for requesting this, as well as tax return transcript.


Along with the tax return transcript, the IRS will send a publication showing people how to read the entries. If taxpayers are confused or concerned about anything in the document, they can contact the agency for assistance. An accountant can also provide help with interpreting the transcript correctly and identifying any errors or entries of specific interest. People should be aware that accountants usually charge for this service.

There is no charge for a tax return transcript. People who need copies of their tax returns, however, will need to pay a fee to the IRS. For people who use electronic tax preparation software, they should check to see if the program has retained the information. For people who use an accountant, they can ask what the fee would be a for a copy of a tax return; the accountant's fee may be lower than that of the IRS, and the turnaround time will usually be quicker as well.


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