How your future retirement tax bracket affects today's Roth IRA decisions
Last week at my other tax blog: Romney's tax lessons on marginal and effective rates and aggressive filing; Refund delays

Getting old tax filing information

During tax filing season you're focusing on last year's tax return.

Sometimes, though, you need a copy of an older tax return.

This is often the case when you're applying for a loan, especially a mortgage. In the wake of the housing/banking debacle, lenders are taking closer looks at potential customers' finances and that includes copies of old IRS filings.

The best source is your own records.

You don't need to keep all the documentation indefinitely, but you should hang onto copies of your past returns forever. Digital is fine. Just scan in those decades of 1040s and associated schedules.

But if you didn't keep records of your old returns or you lost them in a move or a disaster, you can get copies from Uncle Sam.

Today's Daily Tax Tip looks at the choices available to you in obtaining your old tax information.

Full copies:  If you need an exact copy of a previously filed and processed return and all attachments, including your W-2, send the IRS Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return.

Copies of returns are generally available for seven years from when you filed them.

This option, however, will cost you.

When you send in Form 4506, include a check or money order payable to U.S. Treasury for $50 for each tax return you are requesting.

Yep, if you need full return copies for 2005 and 2006, you must pay $100.

And be patient. It could take up to 75 business days for the IRS to process your request.

Transcripts only: If you don't need that much detail, transcripts might work. There are two versions of this filing data.

A tax return transcript shows most line items contained on the return as it was originally filed, including any accompanying forms and schedules.

In most cases, a tax return transcript will meet the mortgage verification requirements of lending institutions.

Complete Form 4506-T to order a tax return transcript.

There's also a shorter version, Form 4506T-EZ. The EZ is only for individual filers of Form 1040. Businesses, partnerships and individuals who need transcript information from other forms must still use the Form 4506-T.

If you need a statement of your tax account showing changes that you or the IRS made after the original return was filed, you must request a tax account transcript.

This account transcript shows basic data including marital status, type of return filed, adjusted gross income, taxable income, payments and adjustments made on your account.

Tax return and tax account transcripts are generally available for the current and past three years.

Even better, there is no charge for transcripts and you should receive them in 10 business days after you make the request.

You also can avoid the paperwork by calling the IRS toll-free at 800-908-9946 and following the automated prompts to order a tax return transcript.

Or you can order your old tax info online at Order a Transcript.

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