We’ve all been there. You’re walking past the office printer just as it screeches a faxed document into existence. Sometimes you’re expecting the fax; sometimes you need a defibrillator. For tax professionals trying to get tax transcripts for their clients, this is all quite routine.
Unfortunately, those who don’t love change might not be thrilled by the latest announcement from the Internal Revenue Service. The agency said they will stop faxing tax transcripts after June 28. That means individuals and tax professionals alike will have to embrace other methods for getting their hands on a tax transcript.
How can I get a tax transcript after faxing services end?
While taxpayers and tax professionals will have different services available to them, both groups basically have one big decision to make: Would you prefer to get your transcript online or by mail?
Taxpayers who prefer doing their business online can log into Get Transcript Online to “download or print their transcript.” But if they want to have their tax transcript mailed directly to them, they will have to call the Get Transcript by Mail phone number (800-908-9946), “submit Form 4506-T or 4506T-EZ,” or—interestingly enough—make the request online.
Tax professionals, on the other hand, can use any of the methods identified in the bulleted list from the press release:
- Obtain an unmasked wage and income transcript by calling the IRS, faxing authorization to the IRS assistor and the IRS assistor will place the document in the tax practitioner’s e-Services secure mailbox, or
- Obtain an unmasked wage and income transcript if authorization is already on file by using e-Service’s Transcript Delivery System.
This change hasn’t exactly come from out of nowhere, though. The IRS included a not-so-subtle hint that they’ve already told us about this change: “In September 2018, the IRS began to mask personally identifiable information for every individual and entity listed on the transcript … At that time, the IRS announced it intended to stop its faxing and third-party mailing service.”
Why is the IRS ending the fax program?
According to the IRS release, “Identity thieves use tax transcripts to file fraudulent returns for refunds that are difficult to detect because they mirror a legitimate tax return.” Ending the fax program means cutting off one of the methods identity thieves have used to access private information.
Doubling down on their push to improve data security protocols, the IRS also announced it is ending some third-party mailings: “Effective July 1, 2019, the IRS will no longer provide transcripts requested on Form 4506, Form 4506-T, and Form 4506T-EZ to third parties, and the forms will be amended to remove the option for mailing to a third-party.”