How to get copies of past tax returns

March 04, 2021 : H&R Block

Filed and forgot it? Most people don’t think about needing past-years’ returns until they need it in dire straits. Whether you were audited or need it to obtain a special financial loan or government benefits, it’s important to know how to get old tax returns. In fact, as some life changes occur in your life, you may need proof of income, knowing how to get copies of old tax returns will come in handy.

There are two methods to get past return transcripts (a printout summary of the primary data on your tax return, including adjusted gross income, or AGI), and one to get an actual copy of your return.

If you’re looking for past tax return transcripts, we’ve got good news – we can tell you how to get old tax returns directly from the IRS. Even better news, the IRS lets you obtain old tax information in a transcript free of charge.

If you completed your taxes with H&R Block, you also have access to previous tax return copies for the past three years. Read on and we’ll explain how to get copies of old tax returns with either method.

How to get old tax return transcripts – from the IRS

tax return copiesThe IRS offers two ways for you to receive your tax information via transcript free of charge – online or by mail with it’s Get Transcript service. With either option, you’ll need to supply personal information, such as your Social Security number (SSN), date of birth and your mailing address. If you’re requesting access to the information online, you’ll need to provide additional personal details when you register.

The next step in how to get previous tax returns is to determine what type of transcript you need. You can choose from five different types of IRS transcripts – some show more information than others. For example, the Tax Return Transcript provides the most line items, including your adjusted gross income.

The IRS doesn’t charge a fee for transcripts. And, they come pretty quickly. (You can obtain one online immediately (or five to 10 business days, if it’s sent through the mail).

How to get copies of old tax returns – from H&R Block

“How can I get copies of old tax returns?” is a common question we hear from our clients. Luckily, the process for retrieving these forms is simple. Whether you completed your taxes with us in an office or paid to do your taxes online, you can get return copies when you create or sign in to your MyBlock account. You’ll have access to your tax information at no cost to you. Go to the Taxes tab, then choose Prior Years from the navigation bar at the top of your screen. From there, you can view your return summaries or download and print individual returns.

If you filed with H&R Block Free Online, you can pay a small fee and get access to your prior-year return. However, if you used our Free version to prep your taxes, you might have to pay to access old tax returns from your account.

If you don’t see your return under Previous Taxes, it could be because:

  • You didn’t finish and pay for your prior-year return. Incomplete returns aren’t available after the start of the next tax season.
  • You created a new account with a different username.
  • You created two or more accounts for the same tax year and signed into the account where you didn’t file your return.

How to get past returns (actual copies)?

Sometimes, a tax return transcript will not work and you’ll need your actual tax return.

If a transcript isn’t what you’re looking for, you can ask the IRS for a photocopy of your tax form. However, this service is not offered for free. You’ll need to file Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, to get your tax information and pay the IRS a $43 fee for each return requested.

You should note that it takes longer for this method — up to 75 days — for the IRS to process your request.

Questions about obtaining tax return copies?

If you need help understanding the information on your old returns — or your current returns, our tax pros can help. They’re dedicated to knowing the nuances of taxes and can help you understand your returns.

Make an appointment to speak with a tax pro today.

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