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Important Information about the IRS Data Retrieval Tool

By on May 22, 2017
The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) provides tax data that automatically fills in information for part of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), as well as the income-driven repayment plan application for federal student loan borrowers.

To protect sensitive taxpayer data, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool on fafsa.gov and StudentLoans.gov will be unavailable until extra security protections can be added. For borrowers who need to complete the Income-Driven Repayment Plan Request on StudentLoans.gov, the tool will be available in late-May. The tool will be available to use on the 2018–19 FAFSA form on October 1, 2017.

In the interim, please continue to complete the FAFSA or apply for an income-driven repayment plan by manually providing your tax information. The income information needed to complete these applications can be found on a previously filed tax return.

  • If you don’t have a copy of your tax return, access the tax software you used to prepare the return or contact your tax preparer to obtain a copy.
  • If you still can’t access your return, you can get a summary of a previously filed tax return, called a Tax Return Transcript, at irs.gov/transcript.

Here’s what you should know:


1. You can still submit the FAFSA online at fafsa.gov.

  • You will need to manually provide your 2015 tax information to complete the FAFSA. Do not use your 2016 tax information. For more info: StudentAid.gov/fafsa-changes
  • If your financial situation has changed since 2015, you should complete the FAFSA using the information it requires (2015 tax info), then contact your school’s financial aid office to discuss your circumstances. The financial aid office can make updates to your FAFSA information if appropriate.


If you are using your 2015 income tax return to manually enter information on your FAFSA, the FAFSA instructions provide guidance on which line number to reference depending on the IRS tax form you filed. That information is also provided in the table below. For more specific guidance on each item, visit fafsa.gov/help.htm.

2015 Income Tax Item 2017–18 Paper FAFSA Question 1040 1040A 1040EZ IRS Tax Return Transcript
Adjusted gross income (AGI) 36 and 85 Line 37 Line 21 Line 4 Adjusted Gross Income Per Computer
Income tax paid 37 and 86 Line 56 minus line 46 Line 28 minus line 36 Line 10 IRS Form 1040 Transcripts:
“Income Tax After Credits Per Computer” minus “Excess Advance Premium Tax Credit
Repayment Amount”
For IRS Form 1040A Transcripts:
“Tentative Tax Per Computer” minus “Total Credits Per Computer”
For IRS Form 1040EZ Transcripts:
* “Total Tax Liability TP Figures Per Computer” minus “Health Care: Individual Responsibility”* For all transcripts, if taxes paid is negative, enter ‘0’ (zero)
Exemptions 38 and 87 6d 6d See details. Exemption number
Wages earned from working 39 and 88/89 Line 7*

*Unless you are self-employed. See details.

Line 7 Line 1 Wages, Salaries, Tips, Etc.
Education credits 44a and 93a Line 50 Line 33 N/A Education Credit Per Computer
IRA deductions and payments to self-employed SEP, SIMPLE, Keogh, and other qualified plans 45b and 94b Line 28 plus Line 32 Line 17 N/A 3 KEOGH/SEP Contribution “Deduction” plus “IRA Deduction Per Computer”
Tax-exempt interest income 45d and 94d Line 8b Line 8b N/A Tax-Exempt Interest
Untaxed portions of IRA distributions 45e and 94e Line 15a minus line 15b

Exclude rollovers

Line 11a minus line 11b

Exclude rollovers

N/A “Total IRA Distributions” minus “Taxable IRA Distributions”
Untaxed portions of pensions 45f and 94f Line 16a minus line 16b

Exclude rollovers

Line 12a minus line 12b

Exclude rollovers

N/A “Total Pensions and Annuities” minus “Taxable Pension/Annuity Amount”
Untaxed portions of health savings accounts 45i and 94i Line 25 N/A N/A N/A
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Form W-2 Item Boxes
Payments to tax-deferred pension and retirement savings plans Boxes 12a through 12d, codes D, E, F, G, H and S

Don’t include amounts reported in code DD (employer contributions toward employee health benefits)

2. You can still apply for and recertify your income-driven payments on StudentLoans.gov.

  • While the IRS Data Retrieval Tool is unavailable, there is an additional step you may need to take to apply for or recertify your income-driven payments.
  • After you complete and submit the online income-driven repayment application on StudentLoans.gov, you’ll be instructed to submit income documentation to your federal loan servicer.
  • Valid income documentation may include a copy of your tax return, copies of pay stubs, or other acceptable forms of documentation explained online in the application process.
  • The easiest way to submit documentation to your servicer is to log in to your servicer’s website and upload the documentation in your online account.
  • If you need to recertify your income-driven payments, start the process early! Your servicer will inform you of your recertification deadline. Make sure you submit any documentation required by that deadline. If you don’t, your payments will increase, often significantly.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why was the IRS Data Retrieval Tool turned off?

The IRS suspects identity thieves may have used personal information obtained outside the tax system to access the FAFSA form in an attempt to secure tax information through the DRT. The DRT will be restored once security enhancements are added.

When will the IRS Data Retrieval Tool be available?

After security and privacy protections are added, the IRS DRT will be available for use within the Income-Driven Repayment Plan Request on StudentLoans.gov in late-May, and will be available for use on the 2018–19 FAFSA form on October 1, 2017.

Do not wait until the tool is available to fill out your FAFSA; you can enter your tax information manually at fafsa.gov. Do not wait to apply for an income-driven repayment plan, or recertify your income-driven payments; you can provide documentation of your tax information instead of using the IRS DRT.

READ  Student Loan Financial Aid FAFSA-IRS Data Breach

 

What if I don’t have a copy of my 2015 tax return?

If you don’t have a copy of your 2015 tax return, access the tax software you used to prepare the return or contact your tax preparer to obtain a copy.

If you still can’t access your return, you can get a summary of a previously filed tax return, called a tax transcript, at www.irs.gov/transcript. If you’re applying for or recertifying for an income-driven repayment plan, you can use your transcript as documentation of your income.

Will my FAFSA deadline be extended?

You need to ask your school’s financial aid office how they will handle upcoming deadlines.

That said, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool being down does not prevent you from filling out the FAFSA. Regardless of how your school decides to handle any upcoming FAFSA deadlines, we highly recommend submitting your FAFSA as soon as possible to avoid financial aid issues and delays.

Will my deadline to recertify my income-driven repayment plan be extended?

No. You should still recertify your income-driven repayment plan by the deadline listed in communications you receive from your federal student loan servicer. We recommend starting the process as soon as you get your recertification notice to avoid any issues.

Contact your servicer if you have questions or need help. If you need to locate contact information for your servicer, visit StudentAid.gov/login.

If I used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, how will I know if my information was compromised?

As a precaution, the IRS is notifying taxpayers (by mail) who may have been affected and offering free credit monitoring.


Nicole Callahan is a Digital Engagement Strategist at the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.

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