Need Tax Records Now? New IRS App Can Help

Do you need to get your old tax records right now for a mortgage application, car loan or student financial aid? In the past, you had to wait days or weeks to get your tax records in the mail from the IRS. But now your tax records, including returns and other filing information, are available online in minutes with a new helpful tool from the IRS.

No more waiting weeks for the IRS to send documents that are vital to your financial security. The IRS has created a new application, called “Get Transcript,” where you can download a record of your account information and tax returns within minutes.

“It’s a wonderful time-saving facility for the taxpayer so they don’t have to wait for the IRS in order to file mortgage loan applications, student loan applications and other important documents,” says Bill Nemeth, an enrolled agent at Tax Audit Guardian in Atlanta.

According to Nemeth, enrolled agents, lawyers and Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) have always had the ability to access tax records through a special database called e-services. But taxpayers had to hand over Power of Attorney to their agent in order to access their files. The only other alternative was to go to the IRS in person to order your transcripts.

“In fact, you’ve always had the ability to walk into the IRS office and get your transcripts. The trouble is, with the lack of government funding and personnel available, you may spend a whole day waiting,” says Nemeth. Now it will only take five minutes.

What is a tax transcript?

A transcript is just a record of line items from your tax returns (Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ) and other forms you originally submitted with your tax returns. It can be helpful for those who need to provide documentation to a government agency such as FAFSA, or a mortgage lender or car lender.

The tax “account” transcript shows basic material such as marital status, gross income and taxable gross income. The other transcripts available are “wage and income” transcripts, and “verification of non-filing” record.

Who should download tax transcripts?

These documents could be helpful to anyone who wants to check their history and make sure their documents are in order for this year, Nemeth says. However, a few groups may find the app especially useful. Those who usually file estimated taxes, like those who are self-employed, can create an account and see how much estimated tax the IRS has on file for them. Also, if a taxpayer moved or lost track of early W-2s and 1099s, they can download their “wage and income” transcript. While they won’t be able to get a copy of their actual forms, they can see what information they submitted to the IRS for their income on this transcript. Those who have not paid their taxes or are having difficulties with the IRS can use the app to help assess their situation.

“For troubled taxpayers, this allows them to look at the IRS records quietly and see how many problems they may have with the IRS and it’s a stealth inquiry,” says Nemeth.

How can you get your tax records?

It’s easy enough to use the app. Go to IRS.gov, search for “get transcripts” and the app should come up as the first search result. You’ll have to answer a series of questions based on your financial history before  setting up an account. After you’ve setup your account, you should set additional security questions that only you can answer.

“Set some questions that are very personalized because this is basically your only protection if a hacker already has your other information,” says Nemeth.

After these steps, a taxpayer can access his or her IRS tax record information instantly on a computer, smartphone or tablet. Victims of identity theft can lock the app for any filing years in question.


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About Ilyce Glink

Author of 13 books, including the bestselling 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask. Writer of the nationally syndicated column, “Real Estate Matters.” Top-rated radio host in Atlanta. Writer for CBS MoneyWatch.com. Managing editor of the Equifax Personal Finance Blog.
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