Getting Copies of Old Returns When The Taxpayer Doesn't Know When He Last Filed


I have a potential client who needs to file some back tax returns. He moves every year or so, and can’t find any of his old returns, so he can’t tell me when he last filed (although I know it was prior to 2013, because I pulled transcripts and there was nothing). Since we won’t know what address was on the last return he filed, how do I deal with that when completing Form 4506?


First, get a poa back further, reinterview the client to see just how far back you need to go…2010? 2008?

As far as copies of old returns, you just need to try your best. Although I have prepared hundreds of prior year returns, I have not had to resort to 4506’s lately to try to get old returns. Do you need the old returns for deprecation?


The POA goes back to 2000. The issue really is that the taxpayer wants to file every year he’s missed, but we can’t determine how far back we need to go unless he can find copies of the returns he did file. So far, he’s been unable to.

He does have a sole prop business, but it started just three years ago. Maybe I should just have him get me all the documents back that far and file those returns.


I don’t understand-if you pull the IRS Account Transcripts- those will show you which years (from 2000 on) that he has not filed. You don’t need him to dig up 1040 copies if the IRS says he filed the 1040.

My solution to your question is to pull the IRS Account Transcripts and use those as the reality. File the returns he wants to file once you show him what years the IRS has as “no record of return filed”.

If a client WANTS to file way old returns, that is great and his/her desire. I follow the IRS Policy of the last 6 years.


Maybe I’m missing something, but when I used Canopy to pull transcripts and account info, it allows you to go back only to 2013.


I hear that all the time- you are requesting the incorrect type of Transcript. That is why I said “Account Transcript”.

What you asked for is a Return Transcript (a “PC” copy of filed returns).


Also- when you use Canopy, the software asks for all types of Transcripts- if you scroll down the list, you should see all the different types. I am assuming the CAF Unit posted your “2000 through 2016-or whatever date you had in there” correctly and not just “2013-X”

You could always try Eservices log on the old fashioned way and pull just the account transcripts to be sure.


Yes, I see what you’re saying now. I’m trying to request the account transcripts now. Thanks for clarifying what I need to do.


Are you saying that e-services is the best source and Canopy is only a supporting service?


Good evening Tim.

The tax transcript system that @canopy1 has keeps a “disclaimer” that there have been glitches in the system. I have had some issues with it myself and would like to see some improvements. I think that we will see some soon!