From the Internal Revenue Service:
Help is available for taxpayers, who need tax information for prior years, but who didn’t keep copies of their returns. There are options for helping taxpayers get the information they need, whether it is for a home mortgage or business loan application, court proceeding, or otherwise.
While taxpayers should generally keep copies of their tax returns and any supporting documentation for at least three years after they file, according to the IRS, here are some things they can do if they did not, the documents were destroyed by fire or disaster, or it is otherwise missing for whatever reason:
Ask software provider or tax preparer
Those who need a copy of their tax return should check with their software provider or tax preparer first. Prior-year tax returns are available from the IRS for a fee.
Get a transcript
Taxpayers who can’t get a copy of a prior-year return may order a tax transcript from the IRS. To protect taxpayers’ identities, this document partially masks personally identifible information such as names, addresses and Social Security numbers. All financial entries, including the filer’s adjusted gross income, are fully visible. These are free and available for the most current tax year after the IRS has processed the return. People can also get them for the past three years.
Taxpayers ordering a transcript should allow time for delivery. Here are the three ways to get transcripts:
- By internet. People can use this tool to view, print or download a copy of all transcript types. Those who use it must authenticate their identity using the Secure Access process. Taxpayers who are unable to register or prefer not to use Get Transcript Online may use Get Transcript by Mail to order a tax return or account transcript type. Taxpayers should allow five to 10 calendar days for delivery.
- By phone. The number is 800-908-9946.
- By mail. Taxpayers can complete and send either Form 4506-T or Form 4506T-EZ to the IRS to get one by mail. They use Form 4506-T to request other tax records: tax account transcript, record of account, wage and income and verification of non-filing. These forms are available on the Forms, Instructions and Publications page on IRS.gov.
Request a copy of a tax return from the IRS
If necessary, taxpayers can request a copy of a tax return by completing and mailing Form 4506 to the IRS address listed on the form. There is a fee for each copy — currently fifty dollars — and these are available for the current tax year and up to six years prior.