Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How to Get a Transcript or Copy of a Prior Year Tax Return

There are many reasons why you should keep a copy of your federal tax return. For example, you may need it to answer an IRS inquiry. You may also need it to apply for a student loan or a home mortgage. If you can’t find your tax return, the IRS can provide a copy or give you a transcript of the tax information you need.

Here’s how to get your federal tax return information from the IRS:

1. Transcripts are free and you can get them for the current year and the past three years. In most cases, a transcript includes all the information you need.

2. A tax return transcript shows most line items from the tax return you originally filed. It also includes items from any accompanying forms and schedules you filed. It does not reflect any changes made after you filed your original return.

3. A tax account transcript shows any changes either you or the IRS made to your tax return after you filed it. This transcript includes your marital status, the type of return you filed, your adjusted gross income and taxable income.

4. You can get transcripts on the web, by phone or by mail. To request transcripts online, go to and use the Order a Transcript tool. To order by phone, call 800-908-9946 and follow the prompts.

5. To request a 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ tax return transcript by mail or fax, complete Form 4506T-EZ, Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript. Businesses and individuals who need a tax account transcript should use Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return.

6. If you order online or by phone, you should receive your tax return transcript within five to 10 calendar days. You should allow 30 calendar days for delivery of a tax account transcript if you order by mail.

7. If you need an actual copy of a filed and processed tax return, it will cost $57 for each tax year. Complete Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, and mail it to the IRS address listed on the form for your area. Copies are generally available for the current year and past six years. Please allow 60 days for delivery.

8. If you live in a Presidentially declared disaster area, the IRS may waive the fee to obtain copies of your tax returns. Visit and select the ‘Disaster Relief’ link in the lower left corner of the page for more about IRS disaster assistance.

9. Forms 4506, 4506-T and 4506T-EZ are available at or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Additional IRS Resources:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Keep Tax and Financial Records Safe in Case of a Natural Disaster

Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and other natural disasters are more common in the summer. The IRS encourages you to take a few simple steps to protect your tax and financial records in case a disaster strikes.

Here are five tips from the IRS to help you protect your important records:

1. Backup Records Electronically.  Keep an extra set of electronic records in a safe place away from where you store the originals. You can use an external hard drive, CD or DVD to store the most important records. You can take these with you to keep your copies safe. You may want to store items such as bank statements, tax returns and insurance policies.

2. Document Valuables.  Take pictures or videotape the contents of your home or place of business. These may help you prove the value of your lost items for insurance claims and casualty loss deductions. Publication 584, Casualty, Disaster and Theft Loss Workbook, can help you determine your loss if a disaster strikes.

3. Update Emergency Plans.  Review your emergency plans every year. You may need to update them if your personal or business situation changes.

4. Get Copies of Tax Returns or Transcripts.  Visit to get Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, to replace lost or destroyed tax returns. If you just need information from your return, you can order a transcript online.

5. Count on the IRS.  The IRS has a Disaster Hotline to help people with tax issues after a disaster. Call the IRS at 1-866-562-5227 to speak with a specialist trained to handle disaster-related tax issues.

In the event of a disaster, the IRS stands ready to help. Visit to get more information about IRS disaster assistance. Click on the “Disaster Relief” link in the lower left corner of the home page. You can also get forms and publications anytime at or order them by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Additional IRS Resources:

Monday, July 8, 2013

Job Search Expenses May Lower Your Taxes

Summer is often a time when people make major life decisions. Common events include buying a home, getting married or changing jobs. If you’re looking for a new job in your same line of work, you may be able to claim a tax deduction for some of your job hunting expenses.

Here are seven things the IRS wants you to know about deducting these costs:

1. Your expenses must be for a job search in your current occupation. You may not deduct expenses related to a search for a job in a new occupation. If your employer or another party reimburses you for an expense, you may not deduct it.

2. You can deduct employment and job placement agency fees you pay while looking for a job.

3. You can deduct the cost of preparing and mailing copies of your résumé to prospective employers.

4. If you travel to look for a new job, you may be able to deduct your travel expenses. However, you can only deduct them if the trip is primarily to look for a new job.

5. You can’t deduct job search expenses if there was a substantial break between the end of your last job and the time you began looking for a new one.

6. You can’t deduct job search expenses if you’re looking for a job for the first time.

7. You usually will claim job search expenses as a miscellaneous itemized deduction. You can deduct only the amount of your total miscellaneous deductions that exceed two percent of your adjusted gross income.

For more information, see Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions. This booklet is available on or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Additional IRS Resources:

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Reminder: IRS to be Closed July 5 Due to Budget and Sequester; Filing and Payment Deadlines Unchanged

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers that due to the current budget situation, including the sequester, the agency will be shut down on Friday, July 5.

As was the case on May 24 and June 14, the first two furlough days, all IRS operations will again be closed on July 5. This means that all IRS offices, including all toll-free hotlines, the Taxpayer Advocate Service and the agency’s nearly 400 taxpayer assistance centers nationwide, will be closed.

IRS employees will be furloughed without pay. No tax returns will be processed and no compliance-related activities will take place. The IRS noted that taxpayers should continue to file their returns and pay any taxes due as usual. This includes the special July 15 filing and payment deadline for those affected by the Boston Marathon explosions. Taxpayers needing to contact the IRS about this or other upcoming returns or payments should be sure to take this Friday’s closure into account.

Because none of the furlough days are considered federal holidays, the shutdown will have no impact on any tax-filing or tax-payment deadlines. The IRS will be unable to accept or acknowledge receipt of electronically-filed returns on any day the agency is shut down.

The only tax-payment deadlines coinciding with any of the furlough days relate to employment and excise tax deposits made by business taxpayers. These deposits must be made through the Treasury Department’s Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), which will operate as usual.

On the other hand, the agency will give taxpayers extra time to comply with a request to provide documents to the IRS. This includes administrative summonses, requests for records in connection with a return examination, review or compliance check, or document requests related to a collection matter. No additional time is given to respond to other agencies or the courts.

Where the last day for responding to an IRS request falls on July 5, the taxpayer will have until Monday, July 8--the next business day.

Some web-based online tools and phone-based automated services will continue to function this Friday, while others will be shut down. Available services include Withholding Calculator, Order A Transcript, EITC Assistant, Interactive Tax Assistant, Tele-Tax and the Online Look-up Tool for those needing to repay the first-time homebuyer credit. Services not available this Friday include Where’s My Refund?, the Online Payment Agreement and the online preparer tax identification number PTIN system for tax professionals. Visit online tools on to learn more about these tools.

The remaining scheduled furlough days are July 22 and Aug. 30, 2013. If necessary, the IRS may announce one or two additional furlough days.

The IRS will also be closed as scheduled on Thursday for the Fourth of July federal holiday.

Tax Tips if You’re Starting a Business

If you plan to start a new business, or you’ve just opened your doors, it is important for you to know your federal tax responsibilities. Here are five basic tips from the IRS that can help you get started.

1. Type of Business. Early on, you will need to decide the type of business you are going to establish. The most common types are sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, S corporation and Limited Liability Company. Each type reports its business activity on a different federal tax form.

2. Types of Taxes. The type of business you run usually determines the type of taxes you pay. The four general types of business taxes are income tax, self-employment tax, employment tax and excise tax.

3. Employer Identification Number. A business often needs to get a federal EIN for tax purposes. Check to find out whether you need this number. If you do, you can apply for an EIN online.

4. Recordkeeping. Keeping good records will help you when it’s time to file your business tax forms at the end of the year. They help track deductible expenses and support all the items you report on your tax return. Good records will also help you monitor your business’ progress and prepare your financial statements. You may choose any recordkeeping system that clearly shows your income and expenses.

5. Accounting Method. Each taxpayer must also use a consistent accounting method, which is a set of rules that determine when to report income and expenses. The most common are the cash method and accrual method. Under the cash method, you normally report income in the year you receive it and deduct expenses in the year you pay them. Under the accrual method, you generally report income in the year you earn it and deduct expenses in the year you incur them. This is true even if you receive the income or pay the expenses in a future year.

For more information, check out the “Business Taxes” page on From there, review the special section on Starting a Business. Publication 583, Starting a Business and Keeping Records, may also help new business owners with the tax aspects of running a business. The booklet is also available on or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Additional IRS Resources: