Do you have anyone in college? Are you thinking about refinancing your mortgage? Things like this require that you may need something from the government about your finances. FASFA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and mortgage providers will ask for a tax transcript. FASFA for one is supposed to have a system where they pull information from the IRS, but from those I know there are frequently problems. Mortgage providers also want official documents such as tax transcripts since they can’t just take your word for your finances.
Methods to Get Those Tax Transcripts
OK, as I write this, the IRS is still going through a shutdown. They do have online systems where you can order a tax return transcript and other tax transcripts right from the website. If you can get through the disclosure process, you can print it out right from their website! Did you ever try though? It can be daunting. If you want them now and can’t use the Get Transcripts Online option because you don’t have a cell phone billed in your name or the numbers from your auto loan or other type of loan don’t match up, then you need another solution to get those tax transcripts.
Now you use the Get Transcripts By Mail option and it will go to the address of record. Hopefully that hasn’t changed. There is even a phone option where you do this through an automated system when you call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. Both those options are ones that you can do without talking to an IRS person so no hold time. But it takes 5-10 calendar days for you to get the tax transcripts when you order it in the mail.
Now last year the IRS would fax you the transcripts as long as you were at the fax and told them you were ok with the risk. Remember these are your tax documents so going to some fax you were not at means your information could be compromised. The IRS changed the tax documents so they obscure the SSNs, EINs, and names in the contest battle against crooks. And this is what you get online or by mail. Now faxing that’s essentially over or soon will be.
The IRS was slated to end faxing of tax transcripts this month. With the current state of the shutdown, who knows what the future holds? And if they called IRS employees back without pay they may not even process requests for tax transcripts until funded again.
The best time to get these documents is well ahead of time. The IRS has a nice form 4506-T where you can order the tax transcripts. Remember if you mail a return, allow six weeks for processing or three weeks for e-filed returns and just mail or fax the 4506-T to IRS and they will send you the transcript when they process the form, in most cases 10 business days. If you think there is the remote chance you are going to need it, just do it in advance. The 4506-T is free so you’re only out a stamp. You may get lucky and can use the online option.
Keep in mind that if you filed a return and sent in a payment don’t automatically assume you have a transcript for that year. There are people who file and include a payment only to receive a CP 80 notice saying IRS got the money but not the return. Don’t bother arguing with the IRS since you’ll just lose and raise your blood pressure needlessly. So that’s another reason to order tax transcripts if you’re the more paranoid type. Frankly speaking, the IRS scares me and I know people who work there!