How to Order Tax Return Transcripts

IRS Statement on the "Get Transcript" Application - Updated Information

The IRS announced today that criminals used taxpayer-specific data acquired from non-IRS sources to gain unauthorized access to information on approximately 100,000 tax accounts through IRS’ “Get Transcript” application. This data included Social Security information, date of birth and street address.

These third parties gained sufficient information from an outside source before trying to access the IRS site, which allowed them to clear a multi-step authentication process, including several personal verification questions that typically are only known by the taxpayer. The matter is under review by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration as well as the IRS’ Criminal Investigation unit, and the “Get Transcript” application has been shut down temporarily. The IRS will provide free credit monitoring services for the approximately 100,000 taxpayers whose accounts were accessed. In total, the IRS has identified 200,000 total attempts to access data and will be notifying all of these taxpayers about the incident.

As always, the IRS takes the security of taxpayer data extremely seriously, and we are working aggressively to protect affected taxpayers and continue to strengthen our protocols.

Additional information

The IRS announced today it will be notifying taxpayers after third parties gained unauthorized access to information on about 100,000 accounts through the “Get Transcript” online application.

The IRS determined late last week that unusual activity had taken place on the application, which indicates that unauthorized third parties had access to some accounts on the transcript application. Following an initial review, it appears that access was gained to more than 100,000 accounts through the Get Transcript application.

In this sophisticated effort, third parties succeeded in clearing a multi-step authentication process that required prior personal knowledge about the taxpayer, including Social Security information, date of birth, tax filing status and street address before accessing IRS systems. The multi-layer process also requires an additional step, where applicants must correctly answer several personal identity verification questions that typically are only known by the taxpayer.

The IRS temporarily shut down the Get Transcript application last week after an initial assessment identified questionable attempts were detected on the system in mid-May. The online application will remain disabled until the IRS makes modifications and further strengthens security for it.

The matter is under continuing review by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and IRS offices, including Criminal Investigation.

The IRS notes this issue does not involve its main computer system that handles tax filing submission; that system remains secure.

On the Get Transcript application, a further review by the IRS identified that these attempts were quite complex in nature and appear to have started in February and ran through mid-May. In all, about 200,000 attempts were made from questionable email domains, with more than 100,000 of those attempts successfully clearing authentication hurdles. During this filing season, taxpayers successfully and safely downloaded a total of approximately 23 million transcripts.

In addition, to disabling the Get Transcript application, the IRS has taken a number of immediate steps to protect taxpayers, including:

  • Sending a letter to all of the approximately 200,000 taxpayers whose accounts had attempted unauthorized accesses, notifying them that third parties appear to have had access to taxpayer Social Security numbers and additional personal financial information from a non-IRS source before attempting to access the IRS transcript application. Although half of this group did not actually have their transcript account accessed because the third parties failed the authentication tests, the IRS is still taking an additional protective step to alert taxpayers. That’s because malicious actors acquired sensitive financial information from a source outside the IRS about these households that led to the attempts to access the transcript application.
  • Offering free credit monitoring for the approximately 100,000 taxpayers whose Get Transcript accounts were accessed to ensure this information isn’t being used through other financial avenues. Taxpayers will receive specific instructions so they can sign up for the credit monitoring. The IRS emphasizes these outreach letters will not request any personal identification information from taxpayers. In addition, the IRS is marking the underlying taxpayer accounts on our core processing system to flag for potential identity theft to protect taxpayers going forward — both right now and in 2016.

These letters will be mailed out starting later this week and will include additional details for taxpayers about the credit monitoring and other steps. At this time, no action is needed by taxpayers outside these affected groups.

The IRS is continuing to conduct further reviews on those instances where the transcript application was accessed, including how many of these households filed taxes in 2015. It’s possible that some of these transcript accesses were made with an eye toward using them for identity theft for next year’s tax season.

The IRS emphasizes this incident involves one application involving transcripts — it does not involve other IRS systems, such as our core taxpayer accounts or other applications, such as Where’s My Refund.

The IRS will be working aggressively to protect affected taxpayers and strengthen our protocols even further going forward.


HOW DO I KNOW IF I NEED TO ORDER TAX RETURN TRANSCRIPTS?

You will need to order a free tax return transcripts for any of the following:

    • You were selected for verification, used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, and changed the imported data on the FAFSA
    • You were selected for verification and could not or did not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. You would not have been able to use the Data Retrieval Tool if you filed:
      • Married, filing separately,
      • Married, head of household,
      • An amended tax return,
      • A foreign tax return, OR
      • Have a change in marital status after December 31, 2014

Please Note: If you can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool but choose not to at the time, you can log back into your FAFSA and use the Data Retrieval Tool rather than submit a Tax Return Transcript.


HOW DO I ORDER MY TAX RETURN TRANSCRIPTS?

You have three options to obtain your tax return transcripts:

    • Download it online at the IRS website: Get Transcript *be sure to disable pop-up blockers in order to download*
    • Order by mail online at the IRS website: Get Transcript
    • Order by phone at 1-800-908-9946


I'M HAVING ISSUES WITH MY ADDRESS or SECURITY QUESTIONS WHILE ORDERING ONLINE, WHAT NOW?

The address matching/security system used by the IRS to log in to their site is very picky and it must match the information on file with them exactly. The address is usually what was on your last taxes. We suggest that you have your taxes in front of you to copy that address carefully. For example, spelling out the word “street” rather than using the abbreviation “st.” can be enough to cause an error in their system. 

If you get locked-out or need help, the IRS.gov Website Help Desk can be reached toll-free at 1-800-876-1715, Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. (Eastern Time).


WHEN CAN I ORDER MY TAX RETURN TRANSCRIPTS?

The timing of when you can successfully request a copy of your Tax Return Transcripts depends on if you owe taxes at the time of filing, and if you filed electronically or by paper. See below for more details.

 

Electronic Filing

Paper Filing

Filer who either did not owe an amount, or is expecting a refund

2-3 weeks after submission in most cases

8-11 weeks later in most cases

Filer who owed an amount, and made a full payment whilefiling

2-3 weeks after submission in most cases

 

IRS will start processing the tax return in June, Tax Return Transcript requests can be made successfully 2-3 weeks later in most cases

Filer who owed an amount, and made a full payment after filing

 

3-4 weeks after the payment is processed by the IRS in most cases

IRS will start processing the tax return in June, Tax Return Transcript requests can be made successfully 2-3 weeks later in most cases

Filer who owed an amount, and have not yet paid in full

IRS will start processing the tax return in May, Tax Return Transcript requests can be made successfully 2-3 weeks later in most cases

IRS will start processing the tax return in June, Tax Return Transcript requests can be made successfully 2-3 weeks later in most cases


WHO CAN ORDER THE TAX RETURN TRANSCRIPTS?

Only the first person that was listed on the federal tax returns can order a transcript.


HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

It is free to order or view a tax return transcript.


HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO RECEIVE MY TAX RETURN TRANSCRIPT?

Please see the section above that details when a request can be made as all requests must be made after the appropriate waiting period before they can be made successfully. Requests to view the transcript online can fulfilled immediately if all requirements are met. Requests made via the online order and phone options take an average of 5-10 days to be filled if all requirements are met.


WHAT IS A TAX ACCOUNT TRANSCRIPT?

While ordering, you may notice the option to request a tax account transcript. Please note that this will not satisfy the requirement, you must order a tax return transcript.


CAN I JUST SEND A COPY OF MY TAX RETURNS?

The U.S. Department of Education no longer accepts a tax return for verification purposes. The only exception is if you filed amended tax returns (see below).


I FILED AMENDED TAX RETURNS, WHAT DO I DO?

If you filed an amended tax return, you will need to submit a signed copy of your original IRS Form 1040 or a Tax Return Transcript, AND a signed copy of your IRS Form 1040X.