What’s An IRS Tax Transcript?

February 02, 2015 : H&R Block

An IRS transcript is a record of your past tax returns. You can choose to receive them online or by mail. Request a transcript from the IRS website.

What do you need an IRS transcript for?

IRS transcripts can be helpful in providing information to lending institutions, where you might be applying for a student loan or a mortgage. It includes most line items from the original tax return you filed. You can get a transcript for the current year and previous three years. Most importantly, it is free, whereas a copy of a filed and processed tax return will cost you $50. This is also why it’s important to keep copies of your past tax returns. Here’s more guidance on which records to keep and for how long.

Which tax transcript do you need?

There are five different kinds of transcripts you can request. Here are the basic descriptions from the IRS.

  • Tax Return Transcripts show most line items from your tax return (Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ) as it was originally filed, including any accompanying forms and schedules. This transcript does not reflect any changes you, your representative or the IRS made after you filed your return.
  • Tax Account Transcripts provide any adjustments either you or the IRS made after you filed your return. This transcript shows basic data, including marital status, type of return filed, adjusted gross income and taxable income
  • Record of Account Transcripts combine the information from tax account and tax return transcripts.
  • Wage and Income Transcriptsshow data from information returns, such as W-2s, 1099s and 1098s, reported to the IRS. Most recent year information may not be complete until July.
  • Verification of nonfiling letter is proof from the IRS that you did not file a return this year. A taxpayer may fail to file a tax return even though he/she has a filing requirement. This letter does not address whether or not you should have filed a tax return. Current year requests are only available after June 15.

Does my transcript contain information about when I’ll get my refund?

According to the IRS, no. Transcripts are most often used to validate past income and to help with tax preparation. The codes listed on a transcript have no correlation to when a refund will be sent.

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