The IRS Data Retrieval Tool: Will it Work for You?

FAFSA wiz, Jodi Okun, provides a clear overview of the newly introduced IRS Data Retrieval Tool in today's Noodling blog post.

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.

The tool works for about 80% of all filers, but in some special cases, tax information should still be input manually. If you meet the criteria below, then feel free to use the tool!

Here's what you'll 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.

The IRS data retrieval tool becomes available for the 2013-2013 FAFSA on February 1, 2012. 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 an 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.

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.

This article originally appeared on the College Financial Aid Advisors Blog on January 10, 2012. Check out Jodi's blog here or join her Twitter chat, #collegecash on Thursday evenings!

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