What Is Form 4506: Request for Copy of Tax Return?

Form 4506: Request for Copy of Tax Return is filed by taxpayers to request exact copies of one or more previously filed tax returns and tax information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Copies may be needed to complete a current year tax return, amend a prior-year tax return, file a claim for refund or abatement, apply for government benefits, apply for federal student aid, verify income, or to defend an IRS audit.

Other forms in the 4506 series include Form 4506-T: Request for Transcript of Tax Return and Form 4506-T-EZ: Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript. They allow you to request transcripts—which are printouts versus full copies with all attachments—of a previously filed tax return.

Key Takeaways

  • Form 4506 is filed by taxpayers to request exact copies of previously filed tax returns and tax information.
  • You can request a range of different types of previously filed tax returns.
  • If you don’t need an exact copy, Forms 4506-T and 4506-T-EZ allow you to request transcripts of a previously filed tax return.

Who Can File Form 4506?

Taxpayers requesting copies of previously filed tax returns can file Form 4506: Request for Copy of Tax Return. You can also request a copy to be sent to a third-party. Third parties might include a mortgage lender verifying your income with the IRS. In this case, you sign and file Form 4506, and the IRS sends the tax return copy to your lender.

How to Fill Out Form 4506

You fill out and file Form 4506 when you need an exact copy of a previously filed tax return. You can request a range of tax returns including Form 1040 series individual tax returns, Form 1120 series corporate tax returns, Form 1065 partnership tax returns, and Form 1041 estate or trust tax returns. Form 4506 must be completed and mailed to the IRS at the mailing address shown on the form.

You must include a check or money order made payable to the "United States Treasury" to cover the $50 fee charged for each tax period requested. Copies are generally available for returns filed in the current and past seven years.

Form 4506

All copies of Form 4506 are available on the IRS website.

The IRS takes about 75 calendar days to process requests and deliver copies.

Other Relevant Forms: 4506-T and 4506-T-EZ

You can request a transcript of a previously filed tax return by downloading, completing, and mailing Form 4506-T.

A tax return transcript is a computer printout of your income tax return information. It shows filing dates, filing status, dependents, adjusted gross income, and tax liability. In fact, it shows most line items contained on your return as it was originally filed. It doesn't show changes made after the return was processed.

You file Form 4506-T when you need a transcript of your tax return or tax account information, Form W-2 information, and 1099 information. Tax return transcripts are available for the current and past three tax years and only for the following returns: Form 1040 series (Forms 1040, 1040-A, 1040-EZ, or 1040-X), Form 1120 series (Forms 1120, 1120-A, 1120-H, 1120-L, or 1120-S), and Form 1065. If you register online with the IRS, you can get it right away and free of charge.

An individual tax return transcript of your previously filed and processed 1040 series tax return can also be requested free of charge using the simplified Form 4506-T-EZ.

If you need your tax information right away, you can also get a transcript of it free of charge by using the IRS's online tool "Get Transcript" or by calling the IRS at 1-800-908-9946. Transcripts are accepted as a substitute for an exact copy of a return by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, by student loan and mortgage lending agencies, and by other third parties seeking to verify taxpayer income. In fact, the tax return transcript was created specifically to satisfy mortgage lender demands for the tax return information of their borrowers. 

The IRS implemented a new transcript format in 2019 to protect against identity theft and fraud. Only the last four digits of your Social Security Number and telephone number are visible, for example. Taxpayers can still request an unmasked version, but it will only be mailed to their address of record.  

Special Considerations for Form 4506

When paper-filing any of the Form 4506 series, copies and transcripts of jointly filed tax returns may be requested by either spouse, and only one signature is required. When using Get Transcript online, either the primary or secondary spouse on a joint return can make the request. When using Get Transcript by mail phone, only the primary taxpayer on the return can make the request.