IRS Data Retrieval Tool for FAFSA | 11.29.11
UPDATE – 3/14/12: Recently, the Department of Education sent an email to families who filed their FAFSA and either estimated their taxes, or selected “will file” to encourage them to go back and use the IRS data retrieval tool. Unfortunately, the email gave some families quite a shock, saying “Now that the federal tax filing deadline has passed and you have probably filed your 2011 tax returns, it is time for you to update your FAFSA”. If you received one of these emails, don’t fret! The tax filing deadline is still April 17th. The point of the email was to make sure users complete their FAFSA with accurate information, and in the process, it apparently got a little jumbled. If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, there is still time, but do make sure to update your FAFSA once your taxes have been processed!
The IRS data Retrieval tool is a helpful resource for many parents and students filing the FAFSA. The tool allows first-time and returning applicants to pull their tax data directly from the Internal Revenue Service in order to auto-fill the tax portion of the form.
Who can use the tool
The tool works for about 80% of all filers, but in some special cases, tax information should still be inputted manually. If you meet the criteria below, then feel free to use the tool! Filers need:
- A valid SSN
- A filed tax return for the previous year
- An unchanged marital status as of December 31 of the prior year
Students and parents should not use this tool if any of the following apply:
- You did/will not file, or filed an amended tax return for the previous year
- Your tax status is Married, Filing Separately
- You filed taxes outside of the US
When will it be available?
The IRS data retrieval tool becomes available for the 2013-2013 FAFSA on February 1, 2012. Some of you out there may be wondering “well what do I do if I file my FAFAS before then?” and here’s the answer: Students who file before Feb 1 can use tax estimates, and file a correction once your taxes are complete. The Department of Education plans to send a email to filers who chose to estimate, as a reminder to go back and update the information. Once your taxes are filed, you can then go in and use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. Note: Applicants who use the IRS data retrieval tool and then manually update a field, or who opt out of using it, may be selected for verification. This means you will need to explain why your update is more accurate than what was pulled from the IRS and back it up with documentation. Hopefully this tool will make filing your FAFSA not only easier, but less time-consuming. Who knows, maybe you’ll even find time to apply for scholarships!
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