Banks love financial documents. Loan providers love them too. Renters and real estate agents are also big fans. The fact is, the more financial documentation you have, the more those kinds of places can see what sort of a risk you are. And even if you had an off year (or two) the more documentation you provide to prove what a low risk you are, the lower your rates are going to be. One easy way to give them the records they crave? Obtain your past taxes returns.
How? Here are 4 facts about getting your past taxes returns so you can cut your bills, save some money, and be ready for any crises that come your way.
- Know what you’re getting. There are two types of documents that gives you your past taxes returns information: a tax returns transcript and a tax account transcript. A tax returns transcript just shows what you filed to the IRS, without any changes. A tax account transcript shows what changes you or the IRS made after you filed. Both have their pros and cons, but make sure you ask for the right one. For the most part, when your past taxes returns information, a tax returns transcript is all you’ll need. Of course, you can always ask for both.
- Decide who you’re going to get it. There are three ways to get your past taxes returns information: call the IRS, mail the IRS, or contact your tax preparer. Each option has their benefits, but it’s important to keep in mind the time frame. While mailing may seem slower, contacting the IRS by phone may just add another step to the process. Likewise, your tax preparer might have a long turnaround time. Keep these things in mind before you put in your request–and always plan several months ahead!
- Know what you’re not getting. If you go through the IRS to get a transcript, what you’re not getting is a straight copy of your past taxes returns–instead you’re just getting a record of what they received. A straight copy from the IRS will cost you per each tax year you’re requesting. A copy of your past taxes returns from your preparer should be cheaper to obtain, but might take longer.
- Plan ahead. Of course, the fastest and best way to get your past taxes returns information is to just make a copy before you file each year. This might mean a few hours at copy shop or printing out a long PDF if you e-file, but the time (and money!) it will save you in the future is well worth it.