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IRS Data Retrieval Tool

The Department of Education randomly selects certain FAFSA records for a process called Federal Verification. If your FAFSA record was selected there are additional financial aid requirements necessary to confirm your financial aid eligibility. You will know if you have been selected for verification by a message included in your FAFSA confirmation report (the SAR or Student Aid Report). Additionally, your Bentley financial aid requirements may indicate a required Parent and/or Student IRS Tax Transcript. To satisfy the Federal Verification process, students and parents who filed a federal tax return must either use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to file their FAFSA or submit an IRS Tax Transcript to our office. Instructions on both these steps is below. Please note, that even though you may have already submitted signed copies of federal tax returns, the requirement of a tax transcript or use of the IRS Data Retrieval tool is still necessary if you have been selected for Federal Verification.

Beginning in February of 2016, students and parents who have filed their 2015 IRS tax returns may be able to select the IRS Data Retrieval option on the 2016-2017 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to transfer tax information to the FAFSA. We strongly encourage you to select this option during the initial filing or when subsequent corrections are made to your 2016-2017 FAFSA. This option will streamline and expedite the processing of your financial aid application.

To successfully use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool option you must:

  • Have a federal tax return filed with the IRS.
  • Have a valid social security number.
  • Have a Federal Student Aid ID

You will be unable to use this option if:

  • Your marital status changed after December 31, 2015.
  • You filed married filing separately.
  • You filed an amended return.
  • You filed a foreign tax return.
  • You filed a tax return using a Tax ID Number (TIN).
  • The home address on the FAFSA does not match the address on the tax return.

According to the IRS, this tool cannot be used until 1-2 weeks after electronically filing a tax return and 6-8 weeks after filing paper tax returns.

Please note that signed copies of your 2015 federal tax returns, along with all schedules and W-2 forms, still must be submitted directly to Bentley’s Office of Financial Assistance as part of the financial aid application process.

How It Works

When either a parent or student selects the IRS Data Retrieval option, the FAFSA Central Processing System (CPS) will conduct a data match with the IRS. As the federal income tax filer, you will be redirected to a secure IRS website, where you will permit the IRS to transfer income data to the CPS. Data that is successfully matched will be marked on the FAFSA with the following notation, “Transferred from the IRS.” It’s as simple as that.  This process avoids reporting errors and processing delays that can otherwise occur when the option is not selected.

Obtain a Tax Transcript from the IRS

If your FAFSA is selected for verification, and you did not use the IRS Data Retrieval option or you changed the IRS data, you will be required to request a tax transcript from IRS and submit it to the Office of Financial Assistance (separately from the federal tax returns submitted as part of Bentley’s regular financial aid application process).

There are three ways to request your tax transcript: by phone, online, or by mail. Please make sure you request a Tax Transcript. Do not request a Tax Account Transcript or Record of Account because they cannot be used for financial aid verification purposes.  Please note that it may take longer to obtain a tax transcript than the timeframes mentioned below if the taxpayer owes money to the IRS.

A tax return transcript can be ordered by phone. Follow the options listed below:

  • Call the IRS at 1-800-908-9946 (7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.)
  • Tax filers must follow prompts to enter their Social Security Number and the numbers in their street address. Generally, these will be the numbers of the street address that was listed on the latest tax return filed.  However, if an address change has been completed through the U.S. Postal Service, the IRS may have the updated address on file.
  • If successfully validated, tax filers can expect to receive a paper IRS Tax Return Transcript at the address that was used in their telephone request within 5 to 10 days from the time the IRS receives the request.
  • IRS Tax Return Transcripts requested by telephone cannot be sent directly to a third party by the IRS.

A tax return transcript can be ordered online. Follow the options listed below:

  • Go to
  • Click Get Transcript under the "Tools" section
  • Click Get Transcript by MAIL
  • Enter your SSN, Date of Birth, Street Address, and Zip Code
  • Click Continue
  • Select Return Transcript for Tax Year (i.e. 2015)
  • Click Continue

A tax return transcript can be ordered by mail. Follow the options listed below:

  • Complete Form 4506-TEZ (Request for Transcript of Tax Return)
  • Form 4506-T is available online at
  • Mail or fax the completed IRS Form to the appropriate address (or fax number) provided on page 2 of Form 4506T-EZ.