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How to Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool

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The IRS Data Retrieval Tool allows you and your parents to access tax return information and transfer the data directly into your FAFSA.

We highly recommend that you use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool if you are eligible.

  • It’s the easiest way to provide your tax data
  • It’s the best way to ensure that your FAFSA has accurate tax information
  • If your FAFSA is selected for verification, it will be unnecessary for you to provide federal IRS Tax Transcripts
  • You will save time and avoid waiting for documents and processing

To Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool:


  1. Go to www.fafsa.gov
  2. Select “2018-2019 FAFSA”
  3. Select “Make FAFSA Corrections”
  4. Navigate to the income section
  5. Mark “Already Completed” when asked about the status of your 2016 federal tax return
  6. In the parent and/or student section of the FAFSA, follow instructions and answer the questions regarding:
    1. Your tax filing status
    2. Filed a Puerto Rican or foreign tax return?
  7. Click the little blue box “Link to IRS” and “Proceed to IRS”
  8. Another login for the IRS will appear
    1. Use the official U.S. Postal Service address for the address listed on your tax return
    2. Any punctuation used in your name or address will create an online error. Replace the following symbols with a space: ‘ , – . #
  9. Click “Transfer Now” to have IRS Data copied into your FAFSA.
  10. Remember to sign and submit the FAFSA transaction after income data has been retrieved.

Here’s a YouTube video showing how to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. (2:56 minutes, video courtesy of UC Santa Barbara).

If you are unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to provide tax information, you may need to obtain an official tax return transcript from the IRS via mail, which takes 5-10 calendar days to receive.

Recent victims of identity theft will have difficulty using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool or in requesting an IRS Tax Return Transcript. Special instructions are available for you.

Troubleshooting Instructions:

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is unavailable for use in the 2017-2018 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Allow up to 6-8 weeks after filing a 2016 paper tax return for your tax information to be available for the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

The IRS data retrieval site uses the U.S. Postal Service address, which may be different than what appears on your tax return. The USPS website has an address tool to which provides your standardized address in the correct format to enter when using the DRT. Any punctuation used in your name or address will create an online error. Replace the following symbols with a space: ‘ , – . #

You may find that adding a space and the middle initial to the first name will allow you to proceed with the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. Example: George W

If you choose the slower process and request an IRS Tax Return Transcript, it will be mailed to the address on the tax return. You will still need to allow up to 6-8 weeks after filing a paper tax return for the information to be available.

10.11.17