In the July 12, 2012, Federal Register notice and in Dear Colleague Letter GEN-12-11 USDE noted that “In limited circumstances, if an institution determines that obtaining an IRS Tax Return Transcript is not possible, the institution may accept a signed copy of a 2012 income tax return, but it must document the reason for allowing an applicant to do so.”


Consistent with that provision, in an August 21, 2012, Electronic Announcement, guidance was provided for both the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 award years on some of the limited circumstances (e.g., identity theft, the filing of an amended tax return) where a signed copy of the tax return would remain as acceptable documentation.


This Electronic Announcement informs institutions that for the remainder of the 2013-2014 award year the alternative documentation, as detailed below, is acceptable in instances where the tax filer recently requested an IRS Tax Return Transcript using the IRS paper or online request process but was unsuccessful in obtaining it.


Alternative Documentation:

  1. A signed copy of the relevant (i.e., applicant, spouse, or parent) 2012 IRS tax return (IRS Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ); and
  2. For tax filers who attempted to request an IRS Tax Return Transcript using:
    1. IRS Form 4506T-EZ or Form 4506-T, a copy of the IRS response mailed to the tax filer informing the tax filer that the IRS could not provide the requested transcript. The copy of the IRS response must be signed by the tax filer; or
    2. The IRS online transcript request process, a signed and dated copy of a screen print from the official IRS Web page that displays a message indicating that the transcript request was unsuccessful.


Because the IRS does not provide written confirmation of the failure of a transcript request made using its telephone request process, there is no documentation alternative for that process. Affected tax filers must attempt to request an IRS Tax Return Transcript using either the paper or online request process and, if unsuccessful, provide the institution with the above noted documentation.


IMPORTANT: In addition to the documentation specified above, the tax filer also must provide to the institution a completed and signed IRS Form 4506T-EZ or Form 4506-T that includes on line 5 the name, address, and telephone number of the institution as the third party to whom the IRS is to mail the 2012 IRS Tax Return Transcript. Unless the institution has reasonable doubt about the accuracy of the information on the submitted copy of the tax return, the institution should proceed with verification and simply retain the IRS Form 4506 rather than send it to the IRS.


If your school has any reason to believe that the information provided on the signed copy of the paper tax return may not be accurate, you must, before verification can be completed, send the IRS Form 4506T-EZ or Form 4506-T to the IRS and wait for the IRS to return the Tax Return Transcript or confirm that a transcript is not available for that tax filer.

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