Understanding Form 4506

Understanding Form 4506

Form 4506, or Request for Copy of Tax Return, is filed by taxpayers who need copies of their old returns for various purposes. In addition to using it to formally request a copy of a return for themselves, filers can also designate a third party as a recipient.

How Do I File a Form 4506?
As of 2015, those who file a Form 4506 can expect to wait up to 75 calendar days for their requests to be completed. Although you can request up to seven returns on one form, each comes with a fee of $50, and failure to pay might delay or halt the process.

This tax form is relatively straightforward; you simply fill out the years or periods you want to request returns for, attach your payment and sign the form before mailing it to the IRS. In general, returns are available for seven years after their original filing date.

Is Form 4506 the Best Option for Me?
The IRS notes that there are alternatives to this form. For instance, form 4506-T, or Request for Transcript of Tax Return, allows you to obtain an abbreviated transcript free of charge. This transcript collects multiple line entries from original filing documents, and it’s often accepted by mortgage providers and similar fiscal entities. You can also request transcripts via the IRS’s automated service for a shorter wait period.

Filing a Form 4506 provides you with more complete information, which may be necessary in certain situations. Instead of just receiving certain lines, you get copies of various documents as they were originally submitted to the IRS, including:

  • Form 1040 and variants,
  • Form 1120,
  • Form 941, and
  • Form W-2 and other attachments

If you’re requesting a return for lending purposes, ask your provider which form to file. In some cases, they’ll even fill out the paperwork on your behalf.