FAQ: What is a tax return transcript?

Taxpayers can request a copy of their federal income tax return and all attachments from the IRS. In lieu of a copy of your return (and to save the fee that the IRS charges for a copy of your tax return), you can request a tax transcript from the IRS at no charge. A tax transcript is a computer print-out of your return information.

Federal Tax Forms & IRS Publications


Looking for a federal tax form? Browse this online tax forms library to find downloadable IRS forms. The forms are presented in PDF format and are acceptable for filing with the IRS. You may also choose from dozens of helpful tax publications developed by the IRS to help taxpayers have a better understanding of various tax issues. Available in PDF format, these publications are written in a plain language format geared specifically to taxpayers.
Federal Tax Forms
IRS Publications

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Tax return copy

A copy of your tax return is exactly that: a copy of the return you filed with the IRS. According to the IRS, copies of individual tax returns are generally available for returns filed in the current year and the past six years. The IRS charges a fee of $57 to send taxpayers a copy of their return.

Requests for copies of tax returns should be filed on Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return.  The IRS has advised on its website that taxpayers should allow 60 days to receive a copy of their tax return.

Tax return transcript 

A tax return transcript shows most line items from your return as it was originally filed, including any accompanying forms and schedules. However, a tax transcript does not show any changes the taxpayer or the IRS made after the return was filed. According to the IRS, a tax return transcript is generally available for the current and past three years.

Taxpayers can request transcripts online at the IRS web site, telephoning the IRS, or filing Form 4506T-EZ, Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcripts. Businesses that need business-related information should file Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return. Taxpayers can request that the IRS send the transcript to their tax representative.  The IRS reported on its website that transcript requests made online or by telephone generally will be processed within five to 10 days; transcript requests made by filing a paper form take longer to process.

Tax account transcript

The IRS also can provide a tax account transcript.   This document shows basic data from the individual’s return and includes any adjustments the taxpayer or the IRS made after the return was filed.  A tax account transcript is generally available for the current and past three years, according to the IRS and is provided at no-cost.

If you have any questions about the types of tax records available from the IRS, please contact our office.


If and only to the extent that this publication contains contributions from tax professionals who are subject to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, the publisher, on behalf of those contributors, hereby states that any U.S. federal tax advice that is contained in such contributions was not intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.