How can I find my prior year's tax return (Form 1040)?

Created by Anil Kumar Kumar Kotla, Modified on Wed, 24 Jan 2024 at 01:57 AM by Anil Kumar Kumar Kotla

One key reason to have your prior year's tax return (Form 1040) or transcript is to have the AGI (adjusted gross income).  This is needed to electronically file your current tax return.  


Here is what you can do if you have misplaced your prior year's tax return:

  • Contact your prior year's tax preparer. If you are able to contact your prior year's tax preparer, reach out to them first for a copy. In some cases, this may be quicker than the second option below. 

  • Request the return transcript from the IRS. Good news! The IRS stores the information from past tax returns that you’ve submitted. You can receive this information as a transcript at no charge. To make sure there are limited or no redacted pieces of information, be sure to request preparer transcripts.

    Note: Keep in mind that transcripts will not show all the information from your return. 

    You can access your online account to order your transcript or get your transcript by mail. There are several transcript options available:

    • Tax Return Transcript: Shows most line items from your original Form 1040-series tax return as filed, along with any forms and schedules. It doesn't show changes made after you filed your original return. This transcript is available for the current tax year and three years prior. 

    • Tax Account Transcript: Shows basic data such as filing status, taxable income, and payment types. It also shows changes made after you filed your original return. This transcript is available for the current tax year and nine years prior. 

      • Note: If you made estimated tax payments and/or applied an overpayment from a prior year return, you can request this transcript type a few weeks after the beginning of the calendar year to confirm your payments prior to filing your tax return.

    • Record of Account Transcript: Combines the tax return and tax account transcripts above into one complete transcript. This transcript is available for the current tax year and three years prior.

    • Wage and Income Transcript: Shows information the IRS received from forms such as Forms W-2, 1098, 1099, and 5498. The transcript is limited to approximately 85 income documents. This transcript is available for the current tax year and nine years prior.

      • Note: If you see a message of “No record of return filed” for the current tax year, it means the information has not been added to the transcript yet and the IRS recommends you check back in late May.

    • Verification of Non-filing Letter: Shows that the IRS has no record of a processed Form 1040 tax return as of the date of the request. It doesn't indicate whether you are required to file a return for that year. This letter is available after June 15 for the current tax year or anytime for the prior three tax years.

If you are unable to obtain the IRS transcripts online, or if you are having trouble with obtaining the tax preparer's version, the last step would be to call the IRS directly.


Can I get a copy of my tax return (not a tax transcript) from the IRS?

If you want a complete copy of your tax return, you can request one by mailing Form 4506 to the IRS. You can request your current year tax return as well as up to seven years prior. Fees may apply.


This content is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as tax, legal, financial, accounting, or other advice. Rules and regulations vary by location and are subject to change, so please consult with an expert if you need advice specific to you.


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