The Department of Education stipulates that we must receive tax data directly from the IRS, via one of the following:
1) The IRS data retrieval option on the FAFSA (preferred)
2) A “tax return transcript” ordered from the IRS
What is the IRS Data Retrieval Process?
This is an option on the FAFSA that eligible applicants can use to import their tax data from a processed tax return from the IRS directly into the FAFSA. The Department of Education is urging families to choose this option in order to complete their FAFSAs more easily and accurately. For written instructions, click here. To view a Data Retrieval Tool tutorial, click here.
Who is eligible?
Most applicants will be eligible. Please note that the student and parent(s) need to each choose the option. If an applicant is not eligible based on the responses to the FAFSA questions, the data retrieval option will not be offered.
However, some applicants will not be able to use this option. If this is the case, and the student is selected for verification, the parent (and student) will need to submit an IRS tax return transcript if they filed a tax return. For written instructions, click here (PDF). For online instructions, click here.
What is a “tax return transcript”?
A “tax return transcript” is a print-out from the IRS that contains most of the information on your tax return. Although the name is similar, it is NOT the same as the tax return that you file. A tax return transcript is provided free of charge by the IRS and can be requested online, by phone, or by mail (click here for written instructions). If you are not eligible to complete the data retrieval process, or if you have tried repeatedly to complete the data retrieval process without success, you will need to request a tax return transcript.
What if I’m not selected for verification—do I still need to complete the data retrieval?
Technically, no. However, since you don’t know ahead of time if you will be selected for verification, it is best to complete the data retrieval option on the FAFSA if you are eligible. In fact, those who are eligible but choose NOT to complete it are more likely to be selected for verification.
I’ve been selected for verification but I am not filing taxes – what do I need to do?
You'll need to complete a Non-Tax Filer's Statement and submit it to our office.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR TAX FILERS WITH UNUSUAL CIRCUMSTANCES
Please read and follow the instructions below if any of these unusual circumstances apply to the student and/or parent(s):
Victim(s) of IRS Tax-Related Identity Theft
Filed a non-IRS income tax return
1. Individuals Who Filed an Amended IRS Income Tax Return
If an individual filed an amended IRS income tax return for tax year 2016, please provide both of the following:
- A 2016 IRS Tax Return Transcript (that will only include information from the original tax return and does not have to be signed), or any other IRS tax return transcript(s) that includes all of the income and tax information required to be verified; and
- A signed copy of the 2016 IRS Form 1040X, "Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return," that was filed with the IRS.
2. Individuals Who Were Victims of IRS Tax-Related Identity Theft
An individual who was the victim of IRS tax-related identity theft must provide a Tax Return DataBase View (TRDBV) transcript obtained from the IRS, or any other IRS tax transcript(s) that includes all of the income and tax information required to be verified. Please contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit (IPSU) at 800.908.4490.
3. Individuals Who Filed Non-IRS Income Tax Returns
If an individual filed or will file a 2016 income tax return with the relevant taxing authority of a U.S. territory, commonwealth, or with a foreign central government, they must provide:
- A transcript that was obtained at no cost from the relevant taxing authority of a U.S. territory (Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands) or commonwealth (Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands), or a foreign central government, that includes all of the tax riler’s income and tax information required to be verified for tax year 2016; or
- If a transcript cannot be obtained at no cost from the relevant taxing authority, a signed copy of the 2016 income tax return(s).
For more information, click here.