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Tax Information for Verification

Students and/or parents selected for the verification process often must provide confirmation of taxes filed.

You may also have questions about unique circumstances:


What Tax Year Do I Use?

This one can seem tricky! Your FAFSA and the verification process uses taxes from the tax year two years prior to the fall semester for the aid year. For example:

  • The 2019-2020 FAFSA and verification covers the fall 2019 and spring/summer 2020 semesters, and you use your 2017 tax information.
  • The 2020-2021 FAFSA and verification will cover the fall 2020 and spring/summer 2021 semesters, and you will use your 2018 tax information.

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How Do I Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to Verify Tax Information?

The Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) is a process where the FAFSA accesses the IRS tax database to answer questions about your taxes. This way you can be sure accurate information is being added to your FAFSA.

If you have already completed and filed your appropriate tax return with the IRS, you may be eligible to use the IRS DRT to transfer tax information from the IRS directly to your FAFSA. To use the tool, follow these steps:

  1. Go to fafsa.ed.gov and click the "Start Here" button
  2. Log in using your FSA ID
  3. If submitting your FAFSA for the first time for the aid year, select "Continue"; if logging back into your already submitted FAFSA to updated, select the "Make a Correction" link
  4. Select the "Financial Information" tab at the top
  5. See the parent and student instructions below

Parent Instructions for the IRS DRT

After logging into the FAFSA and navigating to the Financial Information tab:

  • Go to the "Parent Financial Information" section
  • Answer the questions to see if you are eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool
  • If eligible, select which parent is providing information for the FAFSA
  • Enter that parent's FSA ID
  • Click "Link to IRS"
  • Provide the information requested from the IRS to confirm your identity. If the site says it can't find your data, make sure the information you entered matches your tax return exactly, including items such as abbreviations in your mailing address (example: PO Box vs. P.O. Box)
  • After confirming your identity on the IRS site, choose the option to "Transfer Now." For your protection, your tax information will not display on the IRS site or FAFSA, but you will be informed that the transfer was successful. You will see "Transferred from IRS" in the fields where data was transferred
  • If you only need to update parent tax information, then proceed to the Sign and Submit page to sign and submit the updates

Student Instructions for the IRS DRT

After logging into the FAFSA and navigating to the Financial Information tab:

  • Go to the "Student Financial Information" section
  • Answer the questions to see if you are eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool
  • If eligible, click "Link to IRS"
  • Provide the information requested from the IRS to confirm your identity. If the site says it can't find your data, make sure the information you entered matches your tax return exactly, including items such as abbreviations in your mailing address (example: PO Box vs. P.O. Box)
  • After confirming your identity on the IRS site, choose the option to "Transfer Now." For your protection, your tax information will not display on the IRS site or FAFSA, but you will be informed that the transfer was successful. You will see "Transferred from IRS" in the fields where data was transferred
  • If you have finished any updates you need to make, proceed to the Sign and Submit page to sign and submit the updates

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How do I get my Tax Return Transcript?

If you are unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to quickly import your tax information into your FAFSA, your IRS Tax Return Transcript may be obtained through:

  • Online: Go to IRS Get Transcript website and choose "Get Transcript Online" or "Get Transcript by Mail". Please note that you need the Tax Return Transcript, not the Tax Account Transcript. In most cases the Tax Return Transcript is available within 2-3 weeks after electronically filing a tax return or 6-8 weeks after filing by paper.
  • By phone: Call 1-800-908-9946
  • By paper: Complete and submit IRS Form 4506-T or 4506-T-EZ

If your parents filed separate federal income tax returns, the Tax Return Transcript must be provided for both.

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Can I Just Provide a Copy of My Taxes?

If you are unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and unable to obtain a copy of your Tax Return Transcript, you may be able to provide a signed copy of your tax return.

This option is not available every aid year, and we rely on guidance from the U.S. Department of Education to determine if we are permitted to accept tax returns.

For the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 aid years, we are permitted to accept copies of tax returns. The tax return must be signed by one of the individuals listed as a tax filer - even if the taxes are already signed by a "preparer."

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What if I Did Not Earn Money or Am Not Required to File Taxes?

If you did not earn money or are not required to file taxes, you are considered a "non-filer." Please note that if you earned income, you may be required to file taxes even if you think your income is not enough to file taxes. See the IRS Do I Need to File a Tax Return website to determine if you are required to file taxes.

If you are a non-filer, for the verification process you must provide:

  • A statement that says you did not earn money or that you earned money but were not required to file taxes; you can do this by simply indicating the appropriate information under the "How Income Information Will Be Provided" section of your verification webform on your wvu.verifymyfafsa.com account
  • W-2s for each source of income earned from work (if income was earned)
  • An individual who worked outside of the U.S. and is not required to file taxes with their foreign central government must submit an earning statement from their employer and a statement certifying that they are not required to file taxes within their country. If self-employed, provide a statement with income information. You must also provide proof of the country's tax filing requirements, whether obtained directly from the tax authority or their website (can include a letter or email from the taxing authority or screen capture from their website).

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What if We Were Granted an Extension and Haven't Filed Taxes Yet?

If you have been granted and extension and haven't filed taxes yet for the tax year that needs verified, you must provide:

  • A copy of IRS Form 4868 "Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return" that was filed with the IRS for the applicable tax year (see What tax year do I use?)
  • A copy of the IRS's approval of an extension beyond the automatic six-month extension if the individual requested an additional extension of the filing time for the applicable tax year
  • A copy of W-2s for each source of employment income received for the applicable tax year
  • Adjusted Gross Income Worksheet (this will be added as a task to the student's wvu.verifymyfafsa.com account once we receive IRS Form 4868

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What if We Filed an Amended IRS Tax Return?

If you submitted an amended tax return, for the verification process you must provide:

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What Do I Do if I'm a Victim of Identity Theft?

If you were the victim of tax-related identity theft, for the verification process you must provide:

  • A Tax Return Database View (TRDBV) transcript obtained from the IRS, or any other IRS tax transcript(s) that include all tax information required to be verified
  • A signed and dated statement by the tax filer indicating that they were a victim of IRS tax-related identity theft and that the IRS is aware of the tax-related identity theft

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What if I Didn't File U.S. Taxes?

If you have filed or will file a tax return for the applicable tax year with the relevant authority of a U.S. territory, U.S. commonwealth, or with a foreign central government, for the verification process you must provide:

  • A transcript that was obtained at no cost from the relevant taxing authority of a U.S. territory (Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands) or U.S. commonwealth (Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands) or a foreign central government that includes all the tax filer's income and tax information required to be verified for the applicable tax year (see What tax year do I use?) OR
  • If a transcript cannot be obtained at no cost from the relevant taxing authority, a signed copy of the income tax returns for the applicable tax year
  • Note: Tax transcripts/returns must be translated into English prior to submitting

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