July 11, 2014

You look at the envelope, and your heart sinks as you see the “IRS” insignia. Unless you’re expecting a tax refund check, communication from the collection arm of the Treasury Department almost never represents good news. But in some cases, the request for additional information is relatively simple, or at least would be simple if you could remember where you stashed those W-2 forms from the job you had before your last job or the tax return you filed two years ago.

In previous years, retrieving that information might have required hiring a tax attorney or a Certified Public Accountant and granting him or her power of attorney to make inquiries with the IRS on your behalf. Only then would they have the appropriate records in order to respond to the request. In the case of a full-blown audit, though, having a tax professional on your side is still your best means of defense.

But if the information the IRS is seeking is merely clarification of straightforward information, you can now fetch the records you need online – no power of attorney or third party required.

How To Access Your Tax Accounts

Surf to the IRS.gov website. In the middle of the page, look for the orange tab labeled “Tools” and then scroll to the link labeled “Get Transcript of Your Tax Records.” You will land on a page where you are presented with the option of obtaining a PDF copy of your tax information immediately, having a hard copy sent to the address on file with the IRS within 5 to 10 calendar days, or both. You can opt to receive any or all of the following documents:

  • Tax Return Transcript: Line items from Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ with accompanying forms and schedules, as originally filed (available online and by mail)
  • Tax Account Transcript: Adjustments made after filing original tax form. Includes marital status, type of return, adjusted gross income and taxable income (available online and by mail.
  • Record of Account: Combine information from tax return and tax account transcripts. (only available online)
  • Wage and Income Transcript: Data from W-2, 1099s and 1098s that has been reported to the IRS. (only available online)
  • Verification of Nonfiling Letter: Proof from the IRS that you did not file a return. Letters for the present year are not available until after June 15. No indication is made about whether a return should have been filed (only available online)

When you make your request, you will be asked for your full name, the address that is listed with the IRS, date of birth and filing status. You will also need to answer screening questions to verify your identity. If you cannot verify your identity online, you will need to make a request for documents to be sent to you by mail 

If you are using a public computer, you can make a request as “guest,” making sure that you clear the browser cache and close the browser completely to protect your sensitive information. But if you are using your own computer, you may wish to create a registration profile so that you only have to enter your information once. After you register, you will be sent a confirmation code by email. 

Once you register or verify your identity as a guest, obtaining the information you need should be simple. The IRS will accept print-out copies of these documents as valid government-issued documents for filing revised tax returns or responses to inquires. So if the IRS only wants to verify how much money you made from that temp job you held last summer except you can’t even find an old pay stub, let alone the W-2, no worries. If it turns out that you need or feel more comfortable calling us at Optima Tax Relief, you can contact us via this page.