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Published:   |   Last Updated: October 24, 2023

Getting a Transcript

Tax transcripts are often used to validate your income and tax filing status for mortgage applications, student loans, and small business loan applications. They can also be useful when you’re getting ready to prepare and file your tax return.

What do I need to know?

Order copies of tax records including transcripts of past returns, tax account information, wage and income statements and non-filer letters.

If you don’t have an existing IRS username or ID.me, have your photo identification ready.

Common Issues

There are several different kinds of tax transcripts:

Tax Return

Tax Return transcript is the one most people need. It shows most items from your return (income, deductions, etc.) as you originally filed it. It doesn’t show changes made after you filed your original return. This transcript is only available for the current tax year and returns processed during the prior three years. This shows most items reflected on a taxpayer’s original tax return, including adjusted gross income, and accompanying forms and schedules for the current year and three prior years. This transcript will often be accepted by lending institutions for student loan or mortgage purposes. Note: the secondary spouse on a joint return must use Get Transcript Online or Form 4506-T to request this transcript type. When using Get Transcript by Mail or phone, the primary taxpayer on the return must make the request.

Tax Account

If you or the IRS adjusted your tax return after filing, a Tax Account transcript includes these changes. This transcript is available for the current tax year and nine prior tax years through Get Transcript Online, and the current and three prior tax years through Get Transcript by Mail, or by calling 800-908-9946. This provides basic tax return data (marital status, adjusted gross income, taxable income) along with listing the activity on a tax account, such as tax adjustments, payments, etc.

Record of Account

If you need the information from both the Tax Return and Tax Account transcripts, then get a Record of Account. This transcript is available for the current tax year and returns processed during the prior three years using Get Transcript Online or Form 4506-T. This is the most comprehensive transcript. It combines the Tax Return Transcript and the Tax Account Transcript to provide a more complete picture of a taxpayer’s tax return and subsequent account activity for the current year and for returns processed in the three prior years.

Wage and Income

Wage and Income transcripts show the information from documents the IRS receives from people who have either paid you income (like wages) or received money from you (like mortgage interest). For example: IRS Forms W-2, 1099, and 1098. The transcript is limited to approximately 85 income documents. Current tax year information may not be complete until July. This transcript is available for current and nine prior tax years using the Get Transcript Online or Form 4506-T. This provides data from the third-party information statements the IRS has received for a specific taxpayer, such as Forms W-2, 1099, 1098, or 5498, and can be useful if the taxpayer did not receive or retain a copy of these documents. While the Wage and Income transcript provides federal withholding amounts, it does not reflect state tax withholdings, which may limit its use when preparing state income tax returns.

Verification of Non-filing Letter

Verification of Non-filing Letter can serve as proof that you didn’t file a return this year. IRS has no record of a filed Form 1040-series tax return for the year requested.  It doesn’t indicate whether you were required to file a return for that year. This letter is available after June 15 for the current tax year or anytime for the prior three tax years using Get Transcript Online. Must use Form 4506-T if a letter is needed for tax years older than the prior three years.

You can request a transcript online, by phone, or by mail.

IRS.gov – Get a Transcript 

There is no fee for transcripts.



What should I do?

Make sure you’ve filed your tax returns and the IRS has processed them before requesting a transcript. The IRS can’t provide certain transcripts if the IRS hasn’t processed your tax return.

If you filed your tax return electronically, it will be about three weeks before the tax transcript is available.

If you mailed your tax return to the IRS, it would take approximately six weeks.

[NOTE: If you didn’t pay all the taxes you owe, your return and your transcript may not be available until mid-May, or a week after you pay the full amount owed.]

Some notes on privacy:

When you request a transcript online or by phone, the IRS must verify that you’re the taxpayer or are authorized to receive this information. For example: You have a valid power of attorney filed with the IRS for the relevant tax period.

You can ask the IRS to send a transcript to you or to a third party. For example: a lender. Once the IRS sends your tax information to a third party, it has no control over what the third party does with it. If you’d like to limit how the third party uses your information, you can specify this in a written agreement with the third party.

Requesting a Transcript Online

The IRS has an online system for getting a transcript:

Get Transcript on IRS.gov.

Access tax records in online account

You can view your tax records now in your online account. This is the fastest, easiest way to: find out how much you owe, look at your payment history, see your prior year adjusted gross income (AGI), view other tax records.

If you don’t have an existing IRS username or ID.me account, have your photo identification ready.

To verify your identity with ID.me, you’ll need to provide a photo of an identity document such as a driver’s license, state ID, or passport. You’ll also need to take a selfie with a smartphone or a computer with a webcam. If you need help verifying your identity or to submit a support ticket, you can visit the ID.me IRS Help Site.

If you use assistive technology such as a screen reader, or have trouble taking photos, you may need assistance to complete the process. More information can be found in our accessibility guide.

Upon successful registration, you will be given the option to use Get Transcript Online tool. The system will ask you the reason you need a transcript to help determine which type of transcript might be best.

Currently you can get copies of your transcripts mailed to you at the address the IRS has on record for you.

The system will ask for personal information and then ask you to indicate which type of transcript you want.

Requesting a Transcript by Phone 

The IRS has a toll-free line for requesting transcripts. Call 800-908-9946. This line is only for transcripts and will walk you through the steps. You can request up to ten transcripts per call.

Requesting a Transcript by Mail

To request a free transcript, complete Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return, and mail it to the IRS at the address provided on the form.

Requesting Copies of Other Forms

To obtain copies of IRS Forms W-2 or 1099 you filed with your tax return, first contact the employer who issued it. If you still need a copy from the IRS, complete Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, and mail it to the IRS with the fee listed on the form, currently $43.00 for each requested return.

Remember: If you only need the information from your tax return or information return and don’t need an actual copy of the tax return, you can request a Tax Return Transcript or Wage and Investment Transcript instead, which are free. For example: Form 1098, Mortgage Interest Statement or Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement.

A note about FAFSA

If you’re looking for tax information to help you file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you may not need a transcript. The IRS Data Retrieval tool works from within your FAFSA application to import your financial information directly from the IRS to your application. You can use this tool when you get to the Financial Information part of the application.


How will this affect me?

Requesting a transcript online or by phone will get you the documents you need from the IRS quickly and efficiently. However, some taxpayers can’t request a Transcript from IRS.gov or on the phone. These include:

  • Taxpayers who can’t answer the e-authentication questions;
  • Victims of identity theft;
  • Taxpayers filing returns for the first time; and
  • Those with no internet access or email address.

Alternatives to Transcripts

If for some reason you can’t get a transcript, home mortgage lenders may accept other documents. Some examples include:

  • Copies of returns filed with a state or local government taxing authority;
  • Forms W-2 or similar IRS forms used for reporting wages or tax withholding;
  • Payroll statements, including military leave and earnings statements;
  • Financial institution (bank) records;
  • Records from your employer or a third party that obtained information from the employer;
  • Records from a federal, state, or local government agency stating your income from benefits or entitlements;
  • Receipts from check cashing services; and
  • Receipts from a funds transfer service.

Wait, I still need help.

The Taxpayer Advocate Service is an independent organization within the IRS that helps taxpayers and protects taxpayers’ rights. We can offer you help if your tax problem is causing a financial difficulty, you’ve tried and been unable to resolve your issue with the IRS, or you believe an IRS system, process, or procedure just isn’t working as it should. If you qualify for our assistance, which is always free, we will do everything possible to help you.

Visit www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov or call 1-877-777-4778.

Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) are independent from the IRS and TAS. LITCs represent individuals whose income is below a certain level and who need to resolve tax problems with the IRS. LITCs can represent taxpayers in audits, appeals, and tax collection disputes before the IRS and in court. In addition, LITCs can provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language. Services are offered for free or a small fee. For more information or to find an LITC near you, see the LITC page on the TAS website or Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List.

Resources and Guidance

Transcripts Types and Ways to Order Them

Get a Transcript

IRS Transcript toll free number


Transcript Frequently Asked Questions

Getting Your Taxes Done

Publication 4512-A (English/Spanish)


Did you know there is a Taxpayer Bill of Rights?

The taxpayer Bill of Rights is grouped into 10 easy to understand categories outlining the taxpayer rights and protections embedded in the tax code.

It is also what guides the advocacy work we do for taxpayers.

Read more about your rights