How to Get Prior-Year Tax Information

The IRS recommends keeping copies of tax return and supporting documents at least three years. Keep documents-such as those related to real estate sales-for three years after filing the return on which the transaction was reported. Those who need a copy of their tax return should check with tax preparer first.

Order a Transcript:

Taxpayers who cannot get a copy of a prior-year return may order a tax transcript for the IRS. They’re free and available for the most current tax year after the IRS has processed the return.

People ordering a transcript need to plan ahead, delivery times for online and phone orders typically take 5 to 10 days from the time the IRS receives the request. Taxpayers who order by mail should allow 30 days to receive transcripts and 75 days for tax returns.

Three ways to order a transcript:

  1. Online at
  2. By phone at 1-800-908-9946
  3. By mail with Form 4506T