Attorney Grant McNuttFirst of all I would advise that you should always keep a copy in a safe obvious location within your home or apartment of your filed tax return. Please review my previous blog “How Long Should I Keep My Income Tax Records?” which details how long it is advised to keep your returns.

Misplaced Tax Returns

But, what if you have misplaced your return? If you are unable to locate copies of previous year tax returns, I would check with your software provider or tax preparer first as they may have copies they will print off for you with no hassle.

Seasonal Tax Preparers & Transcripts

What if your tax preparer is seasonal and you can’t get a hold of them? The IRS can provide you a copy of your return in a form called a Tax Transcript. Transcripts are free and available for the current tax year and the past three years. A transcript usually displays most line items from the tax return. This includes marital status, the type of return filed, adjusted gross income and taxable income. It also includes items from any related forms and schedules filed.

How to Obtain Your Tax Transcript

The following are ways you can obtain your Tax Transcript:

  1. You can order it online. You can use the Get Transcripttool link on the IRS website of You will have to authenticate your identity with the Secure Access process, but otherwise just follow the directions as prompted.
  1. You can order by mail. Taxpayers can use Get Transcript by Mail link or call toll free at 800-908-9946 to order your tax transcript.
  2. The other option is complete and send either Form 4506-T or Form 4506T-EZ to the IRS. The form will give you the address to mail directly to the IRS and they will in turn mail you your tax transcript.

Knowing the above 3 ways to obtain your tax transcript is important because sometimes a transcript is needed even though you have an actual copy of your return. For instance, a transcript is often necessary for a mortgage or college financial aid application.

Keep in Mind Delivery Times & Fees

Just remember that if you are needing a transcript, please plan ahead. Delivery times for online and phone orders typically take 5 to 10 days from the time the IRS receives the request. Taxpayers should allow 30 days to receive a transcript ordered by mail.

You can obtain a copy of your actual return, but you will need to complete and mail Form 4506 to request a copy, and it is not free. It can take as long as 75 days to receive copies of your actual tax return. You can request an actual copy of a tax return for the current tax year and as far back as six years. The fee per copy is $50. You just have to mail the request to the appropriate IRS office listed on the form.


As you can see, tax laws are very complicated and if you owe any tax debt of any kind and are wondering how to deal with it, please contact us to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation. If you would like to discuss your options for dealing with your other debts via Bankruptcy, we can answer all your questions regarding Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, stopping a foreclosure or wage garnishment, avoiding liens, stopping law suits, discharging medical debt, personal loans, payday loans, credit card debt, etc.  We can alleviate your stress! We want to help and we can help you!

Grant McNutt
Written by Grant McNutt

Grant McNutt is a Managing Attorney at the Bond & Botes Law Offices in Florence and Haleyville, Alabama. He holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Alabama, and a Juris Doctorate from the Birmingham School of Law. He has been practicing Consumer Bankruptcy Law since 1999.Read his full bio here.

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