Acceptable Documentation Update for 2016-2017 Award Year Verification

Posted Date: October 18, 2016

Author: Jeff Baker, Director, Policy Liaison and Implementation, Federal Student Aid

Subject: Acceptable Documentation Update for 2016-2017 Award Year Verification

This Electronic Announcement provides an update on acceptable documentation for individuals selected for verification who filed a 2015 tax return with the IRS, but who are unable to obtain a tax transcript from the IRS. This applies only to the 2016–2017 award year and to individuals who attempted to use one of the official IRS processes to request a tax transcript of the information that was included on their 2015 tax return that was filed with the IRS.

In Dear Colleague Letter GEN-16-07 we noted that the documentation used to verify 2015 income and tax information for the 2016–2017 award year may be used to satisfy a 2017–2018 verification requirement if that documentation meets the acceptable documentation requirements for 2017–2018, as noted in the April 1, 2016, Federal Register notice.

However a 2015 income tax return submitted to an institution for 2016–2017 based on the guidance in this Electronic Announcement is not acceptable to complete verification for the 2017–2018 award year. We will issue a separate Electronic Announcement for 2017–2018 just prior to the beginning of the 2017–2018 award year.

For the remainder of the 2016–2017 award year verification process, a signed paper copy of a 2015 IRS tax return (IRS 1040, IRS 1040A, IRS 1040EZ) may be provided by the tax filer as “acceptable documentation” for income and other tax related verification information if the tax filer had recently requested a tax transcript from the IRS but was unsuccessful in obtaining the tax transcript.

As noted below, the tax filer will need to provide to the institution proof that the IRS was unable to provide the tax transcript. Note that, for a tax filer who recently filed their tax return, adequate time should be allowed, generally four to six weeks, for the IRS to have processed the tax return before a tax transcript is requested.

The alternative documentation that must be submitted to the institution by a tax filer who meets the requirements described above is as follows:

  1. A signed copy of the relevant (i.e., applicant, spouse, or parent) 2015 IRS tax return that was filed with the IRS.
  2. A statement from the tax filer, on or attached to the tax return, which certifies that the tax return submitted to the institution includes the same information that was submitted to the IRS.
  3. Documentation from the IRS that the tax transcript request was unsuccessful.
    • For tax filers who requested a tax transcript using the IRS online transcript request process (Get Transcript Online or by Mail), a signed and dated copy of the screen shot from the official IRS Web page that displays a message indicating that the tax transcript request was unsuccessful.

      Failure of a tax filer to successfully register for Get Transcript Online is not a sufficient reason for an institution to accept the alternative documentation discussed in this Electronic Announcement. In such a case, a tax filer must request a tax transcript using Get Transcript by Mail or by using paper Form 4506T-EZ or Form 4506-T and provide documentation from the IRS that the tax transcript request was unsuccessful, if applicable.

    • For tax filers who requested a tax transcript using IRS Form 4506T-EZ or Form 4506-T, a copy of the IRS response that was mailed to the tax filer stating that the IRS could not provide the tax transcript. The copy of the IRS response must be signed and dated by the tax filer.

Note: Because the IRS does not provide written confirmation of the failure of a tax transcript request made by calling 1-800-908-9946, there is no alternative documentation for that process. Impacted tax filers must request a tax transcript using either the online (Get Transcript Online or by Mail) or paper process (IRS Form 4506T-EZ or Form 4506-T).

  1. A completed and signed IRS Form 4506T-EZ or Form 4506-T that includes on line 5 the name, address, and telephone number of the institution as the third party to whom the IRS is to mail the 2015 IRS tax transcript. The institution should proceed with verification and simply retain the IRS Form 4506T-EZ or Form 4506-T and not submit it to the IRS. However, if the institution questions the accuracy of the information on the signed copy of the paper tax return, it must, before verification can be completed, submit the IRS Form 4506T-EZ or Form 4506-T to the IRS and wait for the IRS to return the tax transcript or confirmation that a tax transcript is not available for that tax filer.

Thank you for your continued cooperation and support as we work to ensure the integrity of the Title IV student aid programs.

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