Frequently Asked Questions
What is the FAFSA-IRS Data Retrieval Process? Why should this be used on the FAFSA?
The U.S. Department of Education has recently decided to streamline the financial aid application process and to make it more accurate.
Therefore, all 2015-2016 FAFSA on the Web applicants, and the parents of dependent applicants, who indicate that they have filed their federal income tax returns PRIOR to completing their FAFSA and who are otherwise eligible will be directed to use the FAFSA-IRS Data Retrieval Process to complete their FAFSA more easily and accurately.
This simple and time saving feature allows financial aid applicants and their parents to retrieve, directly from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), certain income and information from 2015 income tax returns and to automatically transfer that information to the FAFSA application.
For early FAFSA filers who indicate they have not yet filed a federal income tax return, the FAFSA-IRS Data Retrieval Process can and should be used thereafter as an update to the FAFSA once the 2015 tax returns are filed and the IRS data is available on the FAFSA on the Web.
IRS data retrieved by the tax filer while updating the FAFSA is considered acceptable documentation if an applicant is selected for financial aid verification, even though it was not retrieved with the initial application.
What if I don't want to utilize the FAFSA-IRS Data Retrieval Process?
Applicants who choose not to use the FAFSA-IRS Data Retrieval Process will be informed before being allowed to proceed with the FAFSA that their applications will likely be selected for verification and if selected, they will later be required to provide documentation obtained directly from the IRS.
How long does it take for tax return information to be available through the FAFSA-IRS Data Retrieval Process?
For applicants who file their tax returns electronically, information from their 2015 tax returns will be available through the FAFSA-IRS Data Retrieval Process in approximately two weeks. For applicants who file paper tax returns, it takes within six to eight weeks for information to be available through the FAFSA-IRS Data Retrieval Process.
Why can't I use the FAFSA-IRS Data Retrieval Process?
The FAFSA-IRS Data Retrieval Process becomes available after February 1, 2016 for applicants who have already filed 2015 federal income tax returns. FAFSA on the Web applicants may find their IRS data is not available yet based on when and how they filed their income tax returns.
In general, tax filers can expect IRS data to be available on the FAFSA on the Web in approximately two weeks for tax returns filed electronically and within six to eight weeks for paper tax returns mailed to the IRS. If an applicant needs to complete the FAFSA before filing their federal income tax returns, they should indicate on the FAFSA that they "WILL FILE" but have not yet completed their tax returns. Applicants will then need to correct their FAFSA applications once their tax returns have been filed. The U.S. Department of Education also states that some tax filers with special tax filing circumstances are ineligible to use the FAFSA-IRS Data Retrieval Proce
I was selected for verification. Can I submit photocopies of tax returns to satisfy verification requirements?
NO. Institutions can no longer accept copies of federal income tax returns to satisfy financial aid verification requirements. In general and in accordance with federal financial aid regulations, all applicants who have already filed their 2015-2016 FAFSA but elect to not use the IRS Data Retrieval Process will be required to support their reported FAFSA data with information obtained directly from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This would include but not be limited to a 2015 IRS tax return transcript for students and their parents (if a dependent student), as well as other documentation required to verify information on the FAFSA.
For verification, how do I request a tax return transcript from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)?
A tax filer can request a transcript, free of charge, of their 2015 tax return from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in one of three ways (via an online request, telephone request, or a paper request form). The easiest two ways are by an online request or by a telephone request. Instructions to request a tax return transcript are available at the irs.gov website.
It is required that all IRS Tax Return Transcripts be received directly by the tax filer and for all tax transcripts to be submitted to the SUNY Orange Financial Aid Office in one packet.
Please note that the tax filer should sign the IRS tax return transcript at the bottom of the first page.
How long will it take for an IRS tax return transcript to be received in the mail?
If successfully validated, tax filers can expect to receive a paper IRS Tax Return Transcript at the address included in their online or telephone request, within 5 to 10 days from the time the request was successfully transmitted to the IRS. For those using a paper request form (IRS Form 4506T-EZ) http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4506tez.pdf), tax filers can expect to receive their transcript within 5 to 10 days from the time the IRS receives and processes their signed request.
How do tax filers with special tax filing circumstances complete verification?
The U.S. Department of Education states that some tax filers with special tax filing circumstances are ineligible to use the FAFSA-IRS Data Retrieval Process and may be selected for verification. The U.S. Department of Education describes tax filers as having special tax filing circumstances for verification if they:
Filed a joint tax return and are:
- Separated, divorced, or widowed.
- Are married to someone other than the individual included on the joint tax return.
Are a married independent applicant with a spouse who filed separate tax returns.
Are the parents of a dependent student who filed separate tax returns.
Were granted an extension to file a tax return.
Filed a foreign tax return or a tax return from Puerto Rico and therefore cannot obtain a tax transcript from the Internal Revenue Service.
You can obtain tax information in these situation by Requesting a 4506-T