As part of the HELOC application process, we were asked to sign a 4506-T form to authorize banks to get from IRS transcripts of our prior years' tax returns. This makes me think: as taxpayers, can we get such information ourselves?
Yes, we can.
A quick search on the IRS website yields two different options:
1) One may request a tax return "transcript" for free. A "tax return transcript" contains "most line items from your tax return (Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ) as it was originally filed, including any accompanying forms and schedules."
2) Or, one may order an exact copy of tax return, which includes all attachments like W-2. There is a fee of $50.00 for each tax year requested, though.
I gave IRS's online "Get Transcript" tool a try. After a quick verification of your identity using a few multiple-choice questions such as previous filing location and home purchase information, I was given a whole catalog of available transcripts I can get for free.
A click on any of the link sends me to a PDF file of the particular transcript I order.
If for some reason, you no longer have a copy of your prior tax returns, try this tool as a nice and easy way to get your tax paying history!
P.S. Here is description for each different type of transcript:
Tax Return Transcripts show most line items from your tax return (Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ) as it was originally filed, including any accompanying forms and schedules. This transcript does not reflect any changes you, your representative or the IRS made after you filed your return. In many cases, a Return Transcript will meet the requirements of lending institutions offering mortgages and student loans.
Record of Account Transcripts combine the information from tax account and tax return transcripts.
Tax Account Transcripts provide any adjustments either you or we made after you filed your return. This transcript shows basic data, including marital status, type of return filed, adjusted gross income and taxable income.
Wage and Income Transcripts show data from information returns, such as W-2s, 1099s and 1098s, reported to the IRS. Most recent year information may not be complete until July.