Need Old Tax Returns?
Nobody Likes Collecting The Paperwork For Divorce, But This One Is Easy
In family law matters, obtaining tax returns are of great importance. Generally, copies are procured from either: 1) the IRS and/or State(s), 2) a paid preparer, or 3) the spouse that prepared the return.
Most people ask the IRS for information only as a last resort because they incorrectly assume it is a cumbersome process. In fact, it can be rather simple and quick, with no cost.
The IRS can provide tax return transcripts for free within two weeks. A tax return transcript shows most line items from a tax return (Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ) as it was originally filed, including any accompanying forms and schedules. It does not reflect any changes made after the return was filed.
There are two easy and convenient options for getting copies of your federal tax return information – by phone or by mail. Request for transcripts can be made by calling 1-800-829-1040. To order by mail, taxpayers need to complete IRS Form 4506T (Request for Transcript of Tax Return). Note that only one spouse needs to make the request, by phone or mail, therefore, this can be done unilaterally.
The IRS can also provide copies of tax returns for a $57 per return fee. This takes up to 60 days. So, barring some specific need, transcripts are a cheaper and faster way to obtain tax information.
In conclusion, while it is helpful to receive copies of tax returns from paid preparers or the spouse that prepared the return, obtaining tax return transcripts from the IRS is simple and easy. As a result, when consulting with a potential or new client that indicates they do not have copies of their tax returns, have them complete Form 4506-T or call 1-800-829-1040 so that you can obtain the information without making a discovery request from your adversary.