The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires that you file Form 4506 or one of its versions if you want a copy of a previous year’s tax return or a tax transcript. You can enter all pertinent information on just nine lines of the form's single page, but doing so may not be necessary, depending on what tax records you need and why you need them.
Definition of Form 4506
IRS Form 4506 is the “Request for Copy of Tax Return.” You can request a copy of your returns for the past six tax years and the current year, but the form isn’t necessarily a speedy solution to receiving a copy. The IRS warns that it can take up to 75 calendar days to process your request.
You usually can instead get your hands on a tax transcript, rather than the full tax return, much more quickly and at no charge. A transcript lists the key information from your return, so it should provide you with any details you need, and it will typically suffice for purposes such as confirming your income to apply for a mortgage or other loan.
Who Uses Form 4506?
Taxpayers can use Form 4506 to request copies of their tax returns, and they can use the form to ask that the return be sent to a designated third party. You might want to do this if you’re hiring a professional to handle a tax issue for you and they need copies of previous years’ returns, or if you're applying for a loan and the lender requests a copy of your return.
Either spouse can request a copy of a jointly filed return without the other's signature on the form.
Types of Form 4506
|Form||What It's Used For|
|Form 4506||Tax returns filed in the current year and up to six previous years|
|Form 4506-T||Tax transcripts|
|Form 4506T-EZ||Basic, less-comprehensive tax transcripts|
|Form 4506-A||Tax returns and documents filed by exempt or political organizations|
|Form 4506-F||Fraudulent tax returns filed using your name and/or Social Security or taxpayer identification number|
Several versions of Form 4506 are available. The one you should use depends on the records you’re requesting and why you're asking for them. The basic Form 4506 simply asks for a copy of your own tax return from a prior year.
Form 4506-T requests a copy of your transcript instead of the return. The IRS provides different types of transcripts. The Record of Account is the most comprehensive. Transcripts include most of your tax and financial information, but only the last four digits of your Social Security number.
The IRS also provides a simplified version of Form 4506-T, the 4506T-EZ. But transcripts that are requested this way won’t show any payments you’ve made, any penalties that were assessed against you, or any adjustments that were made to the return you originally filed.
Transcripts are also available electronically, but you must submit the paper version of Form 4506-T if your tax year begins in one calendar year but ends in another for some reason. You can’t use Form 4506T-EZ in this case, either.
Form 4506-A requests a copy of a tax return filed by an exempt or political organization, as well as applications these organizations may have filed to achieve their tax-preferred status.
Form 4506-F is specifically for use by victims of identity theft who have had fraudulent tax forms filed under their name and/or Social Security or taxpayer identification number.
How To Fill Out Form 4506
The basic Form 4506 is pretty straightforward.
- Line 1a asks for the name that appears on the tax return you're requesting. Use the name that appears first if you’re asking for a copy of a jointly filed return. Enter the Social Security or taxpayer identification number on Line 1b. Again, you’d use the one that appeared first.
- Lines 2a and 2b are provided for the other taxpayer’s information on a jointly filed return. You can leave this section blank if you didn't jointly file a return with your spouse.
- Line 3 asks for your current address. You can enter a previous address on Line 4 if you used a different one when you filed the tax return but you’ve moved since then.
- You can designate a third party who should receive the return on Line 5. Be sure to include their full name, address, and telephone number.
- Cite the type of tax return you’re requesting on Line 6, such as a 1040A or 1040EZ from a previous tax year. You can also check a box on this line if you need a certified copy of your return for some legal reason, such as a court proceeding.
- Line 7 provides boxes you can use to fill in the ending date of the tax year or years for which you’re requesting returns. You can request tax returns from multiple years, but you must file additional Forms 4506 for each of them if they’re different forms of the return. This would be the case if you’re asking for a Form 1040A you filed in one year and a Form 1040 for another year.
- Lines 8a through 8c calculate the fee you must pay for copies of your returns. The IRS will refund the fee if it can’t locate a copy of your return. You must check the box at Line 9 if you want the returned fee to go to someone other than yourself.
The bottom of the page is a sworn statement that you’re the taxpayer whose return you’re requesting, or that you’re authorized to receive it. It includes signature lines. The IRS will deny your request if this section is not fully signed and completed.
Can Form 4506 be E-Filed?
Form 4506 can’t be e-filed. A paper copy must be mailed to the IRS,but you have other options if you’re filing Form 4506-T for a transcript or Form 4506-F.
You can access a copy of a transcript at IRS.gov. Go to the “File” menu and click on “Get Your Tax Record,” then fill in the required information when you’ve downloaded the form you need. You can also simply call the IRS at 800-908-9946. You won’t speak to a human, but the line offers recorded prompts to guide you. You’ll have to create an account. You can’t use the telephone option if you want your transcript sent to a third party.
Forms 4506-F and 4506T-EZ can be submitted by fax if you choose not to mail in a paper copy.
Where To Mail Form 4506
The address to which you must send Form 4506 depends on the state where you live, as well as the type of tax return you’re requesting.
The IRS provides an extensive list of all applicable snail-mail addresses for sending in Form 4506 on its website, along with instructions as to which you should use.
How To File Form 4506
The IRS charges $43 for each return you’re requesting, unless you’ve been affected by a federally declared disaster and you need copies of your returns to apply for benefits or to amend them to claim disaster-related tax breaks.
You can remit by check or money order. Include it when you mail in your paper form. Make it out to “United States Treasury,” and include your Social Security or taxpayer identification number along with the words, “Form 4506 request.”
The IRS must receive your form within 120 days of the date you signed it, or it won’t honor your request. You’ll have to file all over again.
- IRS Form 4506 is a request to receive copies of tax returns filed in previous years.
- You can request tax transcripts instead of using Form 4506-T or Form 4506T-EZ, and this process is usually quicker and easier.
- The IRS charges $43 per requested tax return, although some exceptions apply. You must include a check or money order when you mail in your form.
IRS. "Topic No. 156 Copy or Transcript of Your Tax Return—How to Get One." Accessed Nov. 28, 2021.
IRS. "Form 4506 - Request for Copy of Tax Return." Accessed Nov. 28, 2021.
Merrimack.edu. "IRS Tax Return Transcript Request Process," Page 3. Accessed Nov. 28, 2021.