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IRS FAFSA Tool Shut Down (Temporarily)

If you’re applying for college financial aid, you’re very familiar with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which uses prior year tax information to determine your eligibility. The IRS has announced they have taken down their FAFSA tool which allows taxpayers to retrieve tax return information online, citing identity theft concerns. They’re concerned unauthorized individuals may be able to access tax return information through this method, so are instituting security measures and will reopen the system once those are in place. This doesn’t affect the online FAFSA application, only the IRS website for retrieving prior year returns.

If you didn’t keep a copy of your prior tax returns, the IRS suggests the following options:

  1. Access the tax software product you used to prepare and file your 2015 return.  You may be able to access your account to download/print a copy.
  2. Contact the tax preparer/provider who filed your 2015 return if you used a tax professional.
  3. Download your tax transcript (a summary) at Get Transcript Online.  Review the rigorous identity authentication requirements for Secure Access before attempting to register.
  4. Use Get Transcript by Mail and a transcript will be mailed to the address on your return within five to 10 days.
  5. Call the IRS automated line at 800-908-9946 to order a transcript by mail.

It’s a best practice to always keep a copy of your annual tax returns in a secure place, either electronically or on paper.

For more information about the IRS Data Retrieval Tool for FAFSA, you can read the IRS announcement by clicking here.