What is a tax transcript and why could you need one?

This article defines tax transcripts, outlines the different types, and explains why you might need them.

You may know that it's good to keep copies of your past tax returns, but do you know where to find them if you did? Paper copies get stored and forgotten, and digital files can get deleted. There are several reasons why you may need a copy of past tax information, and tax transcripts can help when you do.

The different types of tax transcripts.

Tax transcripts are a summary of certain kinds of tax information. You can get them from the IRS when you need them. All you need to do is request the one you need from the IRS on their website. The information can be sensitive, so you'll need to prove who you are.

There are many times when having a summary of your tax return could be handy. For example, if you’re applying for a mortgage or business loan or want to participate in Federal Health Care Programs. In these and other cases, you must not only prove your past income but also that you filed your taxes.

There are five different types of tax transcripts. Here’s the list and what’s included on each:

  1. Tax Return Transcript. This type summarizes the lines entered on your original tax return.
  2. Tax Account Transcript. Here you’ll find your filing status and adjusted gross income.
  3. Record of Account Transcript. This one is a combination of the previous two.
  4. Wages and Income Transcript. This transcript shows only the income section of your return.
  5. Verification of Non-filing Letter. This form can prove you didn't file for a specific year.

The IRS will mail you any of these different tax transcripts, but the quickest and easiest way to receive them is to download a PDF directly from their website. Save the transcript to your computer or device so you can print it later or forward it to the company or agency that requires it. Plus, PDFs are easy to use and keep secure.

There’s much more you can do with Acrobat online services — take a moment and explore.