Columbia Financial Aid and Educational Financing

IRS Data Retrieval Tool

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The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) allows students and parents to transfer federal tax return information directly to their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The DRT is easy, accurate and secure. If your FAFSA is selected for Federal Verification, the tool is the fastest way to confirm your filed tax information.

How to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool

  • Log in to your 2018-2019 FAFSA, or start a new FAFSA at fafsa.ed.gov.
  • In the Financial Information section of the FAFSA, you will see a “Link to IRS” button, if you are eligible to use the IRS DRT.
    • Each taxpayer will need to have indicated that they have “Already Completed” a 2016 Tax Return in order to be shown the option to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
  • The IRS DRT takes you to the IRS website, where you’ll need to provide your name and other information exactly as you provided it on your tax return. Some information will be prepopulated from your FAFSA form.
  • At the IRS site, you’ll see a page that indicates that your tax information is available.
  • If you choose to import your information into the FAFSA form, you’ll find that when you return to the FAFSA site, instead of your tax information being displayed, you’ll see “Transferred from the IRS” in the appropriate fields. You won’t be able to make changes to those answers (numbers are masked to protect your privacy and ensure the security of your data); however, the IRS-confirmed answers will securely transfer to each college.
  • Please remember to double-check the untaxed income information that FAFSA requests, but which has not been transferred via the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. This includes 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.

Related FAQs

When will I be unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?

You will be unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool if you have indicated that you have not yet filed or will not file a 2016 tax return; if you filed electronically within the last 3 weeks or through the mail within the last 11 weeks; if you filed a foreign or Puerto Rican tax return; if you filed a tax return using an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN); or if you indicated on the FAFSA that you are married but filed separately from your spouse (Married, Filing Separately; or Head of Household).

Why can’t I see my own tax return information when transferring the data?

Your tax return information is not visible because of added security and privacy protections.

Can the school see the data that’s transferred from the IRS?

Yes. We will have access to the tax return information that is transferred via the IRS DRT and will follow up with you if we notice issues or need more information.

How will I know that the correct information has been transferred?

The tax return information that is being transferred into the FAFSA form is coming directly from the 2016 tax return you filed with the IRS.