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(Verification) Subject: Acceptable Documentation Update for 2015-2016 Award Year Verification

Posted Date:October 2, 2015

Author: Lynn B. Mahaffie, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Planning, and Innovation, Office of Postsecondary Education

Subject: Acceptable Documentation Update for 2015-2016 Award Year Verification

This Electronic Announcement provides an update on the acceptable documents for individuals selected for verification who filed a 2014 tax return with the IRS but who are unable to obtain a transcript from the IRS. It applies only to individuals who used one of the official IRS processes to request a transcript of the information that was included on their 2014 tax return that was filed with the IRS. As noted below, the tax filer will need to provide to the institution proof that the IRS was unable to provide the tax return transcript. Note that, for a tax filer who recently filed their tax return, adequate time should be allowed, generally four to six weeks, for the IRS to have processed the return before a tax return transcript is requested.

For the remainder of the 2015-2016 award year verification process, a signed paper copy of a 2014 IRS tax return (IRS 1040, IRS 1040A, IRS 1040EZ) may be provided by the tax filer as "acceptable documentation" for income and other tax related verification information if the tax filer had recently requested a transcript from the IRS but was unsuccessful in obtaining the transcript.

We are aware that since May 2015, the IRS's "Get Transcript Online" tool has been unavailable. The unavailability of the "Get Transcript Online" tool is not a sufficient reason for an institution to accept the alternative documentation below. However, tax filers are able to request a transcript online at using the Get Transcript by Mail service, over the phone at 1-800-908-9946, or by using paper Form 4506T-EZ or Form 4506-T. We have been assured by the IRS that successfully authenticated transcript requests submitted by any of those methods will result in a transcript being mailed to the tax filer, generally within 5 to 10 business days of receipt of the request.

The alternative documentation that must be submitted to the institution by a tax filer who meets the requirements described above is as follows:

  1. A signed copy of the relevant (i.e., applicant, spouse, or parent) 2014 IRS tax return that was filed with the IRS.

  2. A statement from the tax filer, on or attached to the tax return, which certifies that the tax return submitted to the institution includes the same information that was submitted to the IRS.

  3. Documentation from the IRS that the transcript request was unsuccessful.

  • For tax filers who requested a transcript using the IRS online transcript request process, a signed and dated copy of the screen shot from the official IRS Web page that displays a message indicating that the transcript request was unsuccessful.

  • For the reasons noted above, a screen shot saying that the "Get Transcript Online" tool is not available is not sufficient documentation that an attempt to obtain a transcript was not successful.

  • For tax filers who requested a transcript using IRS Form 4506T-EZ or Form 4506-T, a copy of the IRS response that was mailed to the tax filer stating that the IRS could not provide the transcript. The copy of the IRS response must be signed and dated by the tax filer.

Note: Because the IRS does not provide written confirmation of the failure of a transcript request made by calling 1-800-908-9946, there is no alternative documentation for that process. Impacted tax filers must request a transcript using either the online (Get Transcript by Mail service) or paper process (IRS Form 4506T-EZ or Form 4506-T).

  • 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 2014 IRS transcript. The institution should proceed with verification and simply retain the IRS Form 4506T-EZ or Form 4506-T and not submit it to the IRS. However, if the institution questions the accuracy of the information on the signed copy of the paper tax return, it must, before verification can be completed, submit the IRS Form 4506T-EZ or Form 4506-T to the IRS and wait for the IRS to return the transcript or confirmation that a transcript is not available for that tax filer.

  • Thank you for your continued cooperation and support as we work to ensure the integrity of the Title IV student aid programs.

    Last Modified: 10/01/2015