Columbia Financial Aid and Educational Financing

IRS Data Retrieval Tool

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The IRS Data Retrieval Tool allows students and parents to access the IRS tax return information needed to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and to transfer the data directly into their FAFSA from the IRS Web site.

We highly recommend using the tool for several reasons:

  1. It’s the easiest way to provide your tax data, saving time and improving accuracy.
  2. It is a secure way to access and transfer tax return information directly onto the FAFSA form.
  3. It’s the best way of ensuring that your FAFSA has accurate tax information. 
  4. The increased accuracy reduces the likelihood of being selected for the Federal Verification audit process.

If you filed your federal tax return electronically at least two weeks prior to today or submitted your paper federal tax returns 6-8 weeks prior to today, you may be eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IDRT). With just a few simple steps, students and parents who have completed their IRS tax return will be able to view and transfer their federal tax information straight from their prior-year tax returns to the FAFSA.

If you have not completed your tax return when your FAFSA is filed, you can use your FSA User ID to sign back into your FAFSA (at and activate the IDRT after your taxes are filed. If you and your parents choose not to use IRS Data Retrieval, you may be asked to submit Tax Return Transcripts directly to the Financial Aid Office, in addition to the copy of your federal taxes you provide via the IDOC service.

How the IRS Data Retrieval Tool works

  • Log in to your FAFSA with your FSA User ID and click Link to IRS
  • Your FAFSA will be saved and you will be transferred to the IRS Web site.
  • On the IRS Web site, enter the requested information.
    • The information that you enter (name, SSN, address) must exactly match what the IRS has on file for your family. It will be helpful to have your most current tax return on hand to insure that the information will match.
    • The home address listed on the FAFSA must match the home address listed on the federal income tax return.
  • Once the IRS has validated your identification, your IRS tax information will display. You can either transfer your information from the IRS, or choose to return to FAFSA on the Web from the IRS Web site.
  • If you transfer your IRS tax information, questions that are populated with tax information will be marked with “Transferred from the IRS.”
  • PLEASE NOTE:  Please remember to double-check the income information that FAFSA requests which is NOT listed on your tax return: pre-tax contributions to retirement accounts (W2 Box 12 Code D,E,F,G,H and S), housing benefits provided by employer, other untaxed income, etc.
  • Submit/re-submit the FAFSA. It takes 3-5 business days for a FAFSA transaction to process.

Instances when you will NOT be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool:

You are married, but filed separate federal returns (either Married, Filing Separately, or Head of Household) for the tax year.

You filed an amended federal tax return.

  • Please submit a signed copy of the 1040X form that was filed, and 
  • Please submit an IRS Tax Return Transcript.

You had a change in marital status after the end of the tax year on December 31.

You filed a foreign income tax return instead of, or in addition to, filing a US income tax return.

  • Please contact our office about required documents.

You filed taxes using a Tax ID Number.