The IRS Data Retrieval Tool

Please note that the IRS Data Retrieval Tool is currently down. It appears to be available within the FAFSA, but is not functional. Families will need to manually enter their 2015 financial information. If a student is selected for federal verification, they will need to request a Tax Return Transcript instead of utilizing the Data Retrieval Tool in the FAFSA. We have been told by the US Dept of Education that it will be up and running in October 2017.


This process can be the easiest and quickest way to fulfill the requirements of federal verification. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool has been a part of the FAFSA since the 2009-10 award year and each year millions of students successfully use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

How it Works

While completing an original online FAFSA, or making corrections to an existing FAFSA, eligible applicants will be given the opportunity to use the IRS Data Retrieval tool. Applicants will be asked a few screen questions to determine eligibility. If eligible, applicants will temporarily leave the FAFSA website to go to the IRS website. There they will complete a form to prove their online identity.

After the applicant has successfully authenticated himself or herself, the IRS web site will allow them to transfer the relevant tax information back to the FAFSA. The applicant will then be returned to the FAFSA website, where they should complete the rest of the FAFSA.

Unfortunately, there are some student/parent populations that are ineligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. If one of the following situation is applicable, please request and submit an IRS Tax Return Transcript.

People that will be unable to use IRS Data Retrieval:

  • Students or parents that do not have completed federal taxes
  • The person did not indicate on the FAFSA that the tax return has been completed (i.e. Make sure your filing status is “Already Completed” on the FAFSA).
  • Married parents of an applicant that file taxes separately
  • Marriage status of the applicant or the applicant’s parent changed after the end of the year
  • Students or parents that have a “Head of Household” tax filing status
  • Tax filers who owe back taxes
  • Filed amended tax returns
  • Filed foreign tax returns


When/who can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is not available until mid-February and CANNOT BE COMPLETED UNTIL AFTER the student and family have completed their taxes for the preceding year (i.e. the 2014 taxes for the 2015-16 Academic Year).  This tool becomes available to families starting in February of that year. This means that families can start using the IRS Data Retrieval tool in February 2015 for the 2015-16 Academic Year. If you file taxes electronically, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool can be used 1-2 weeks after you file, whereas it takes 6-8 weeks if you file a paper return.


A step-by-step instruction/guide to using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool