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Help! I need my tax return and can’t find it.

Saving copies of your tax returns remains the last, often overlooked, important step of managing your tax records. You never know when you might need a copy for the IRS auditor, a loan company, your child’s FAFSA form, etc.

Of course, certain circumstances may cause you to misplace your return – you move, a weather disaster destroys your home, your dog gets hungry, etc. No one is exempt from unplanned events. What do you do if you need a copy of your return and can’t locate it?

The IRS makes copies of returns available for the current year as well as up to six previous years. You can order them online (,,id=232168,00.html), by phone (800-908-9946), or by mail using Form 4506. If your return was lost during a move, you can’t order it online; you’ll need to send the IRS a Form 4506-T showing your change of address.

If you ordered a transcript of your return (showing most, but not all line items from your actual return), expect to receive it in 5-10 days, or up to 30 days if ordered by mail. Transcripts are free but only available for the current year and three previous years.

If you need a copy of your tax return (looks exactly as it did when you filed it), expect to receive it in up to 60 days. Also, you’ll need to pay $57 for each tax year you order unless your tax returns have been lost due to a federally recognized disaster.  Copies of returns are available for the current year and six previous years.

(Tip: Here at Patrick & Robinson CPAs we always keep an electronic copy of tax returns, which we provide our clients if theirs should be misplaced or destroyed. Check with your CPA before paying the $57!)

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