Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool

on May 4, 2016

Each year, millions of students and parents use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer income and tax information from their federal income tax returns into the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

 

Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool offers several benefits.

  • It saves time, since the answers to income and tax questions on the FAFSA will be prefilled.
  • It reduces the likelihood that the FAFSA will be selected for verification. Any data element that is transferred unmodified from a federal income tax return into the FAFSA will not be subject to verification.
  • It also improves the accuracy of the FAFSA.

Who isn't Eligible to Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?


Most taxpayers will be eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to prefill or update income and tax information on the FAFSA, because they will have filed federal income tax returns before the October 1 start date for the FAFSA. 

 

There are, however, a few exceptions.

  • The IRS Data Retrieval Tool may not be available for taxpayers who filed their federal income tax returns recently. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool becomes available about 2-3 weeks after a taxpayer files his or her federal income tax returns electronically and about 6-8 weeks after filing a paper federal income tax return, if no payment is due. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool becomes available about 3-4 weeks after the IRS receives the full/final payment or in June/July for taxpayers who owe a balance to the IRS. (Also, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool is not available until the first Sunday in February each year.)
  • The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is not available to applicants who have not yet filed their federal income tax returns.
  • The taxpayer must have a valid Social Security Number (SSN). A taxpayer who has a Tax ID Number (TIN) is not eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. Parents who are not U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens and who use 000-00-0000 instead of a Social Security Number are not eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
  • The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is not available to married taxpayers who file separate federal income tax returns, such as married filing separately or head of household. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is also not available to parents who are unmarried or never married but who live together. The U.S. Department of Education and the IRS are working on adding this capability to the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
  • The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is not available to taxpayers whose marital status changed after the end of the tax year.
  • The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is not available to taxpayers who have moved after the end of the tax year, since the address on the tax return must match the address on the FAFSA due to data security restrictions.
  • The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is not available to taxpayers who file an amended federal income tax return (1040-X).
  • The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is not available to taxpayers who file a foreign income tax return, even if they also file a U.S. federal income tax return. Foreign income tax returns include tax returns filed by Puerto Rico residents and residents of the Freely Associated States (Republic of Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia).
  • The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is not available to taxpayers who are victims of identity theft involving their federal income tax returns until the situation is resolved, typically after about 8-11 weeks.

Members of the U.S. Armed Forces who are on active duty in a combat zone are not requires to file federal income tax returns until 180 days after the end of their deployment. However, most servicemembers have a family member file income tax returns on their behalf.

 

Consequences of Not Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool


If a student and his or her parents did not use the IRS data retrieval tool and the student’s FAFSA is selected for verification, they may be required to provide an IRS tax return transcript to the college’s financial aid office.  Photocopies of the federal income tax return are no longer sufficient.

An IRS tax transcript can be sent to the address listed on the federal income tax return using the online Get a Transcript tool or by calling 1-800-908-9946. Typically, it will take 1-2 weeks for the tax transcript to arrive.

 

If the taxpayer has moved since the tax return was filed, he or she will need to file IRS Form 4506-T to request that a tax return transcript is sent to a different address. It can take up to 30 days for the tax transcript to arrive.
 

Availability of IRS DRT No Payment Due Payment Due
All taxpayers No sooner than the first Sunday in February No sooner than the first Sunday in February
Filed return elecronically 2-3 weeks after filing 3-4 weeks after IRS receives full payment or June/July
Filed return on paper 6-8 weeks after filing 3-4 weeks after IRS receives full payment or June/July
Identity theft victim 8-11 weeks after filing 8-11 weeks after filing

 

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