How do I get copies of my tax returns and transcripts?

The IRS recommends that you keep a copy of tax returns for at least three years. (But it is advisable to save them much longer.) Doing this can help you prepare future tax returns or even assist with amending a prior year’s return. If you are unable to locate copies of previous year tax returns, check with your software provider or tax preparer first. Tax returns are available from IRS for a fee.

Even though you may have a copy of your tax return, you may need a transcript of your tax return. These are often necessary for a mortgage or college financial aid application.

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. It doesn’t reflect any changes the taxpayer or the IRS may have made to the original return.


  • Order online or by mail using the Get Transcript tool on You will be required to authenticate your identity with the Secure Access process.
  • Call 800-908-9946 to order a tax return transcripts and/or tax account transcripts
  • Complete and send either Form 4506-T or 4506T-EZ to the IRS.

Copies of tax returns

If you need an actual copy of a tax return, you may be able to get one for the current tax year and as far back as six years. Note that there is no paper copy if you filed electronically. You should mail the request to the appropriate IRS office listed on the form.

Remember to plan ahead. Delivery times for online and phone orders typically take five to 10 days from the time the IRS receives the request. Allow 30 days to receive a transcript ordered by mail, and 75 days for copies of your tax return.

If you live in a federally declared disaster area can get a free copy of your tax return.