There are many reasons that you could need a copy or a transcript of a past tax return. Perhaps you are taking advantage of low mortgage rates  and applying for a loan or mortgage and need to prove your income from past years. Or if you are applying for college, or refinancing your home you may need copies of past tax returns. Perhaps you have decided that this is the year you are going to get all of your financial documents in order  and you seem to be missing the tax returns from 2006-2008.
Whatever the case may be, if you have exhausted all other possibilities of finding it on your own (checked your hard drive to see if you saved a copy, logged into any software you used in that year, like TurboTax , checked with your tax preparer, etc.), then it is time to go to the source: the IRS.
Do You Need a Copy or a Transcript?
Before ordering something from the IRS, it is best to understand which type of past tax return you need—a copy or a transcript. To request a past return in its entirety, you need a copy of it. This will include all of the line entries of your tax return. A copy is available for the previous 7 tax years (for forms 1040 , 1040A, and 1040EZ ) and for further back than 7 years for other types of forms.
How Much Does a Copy of a Tax Return Cost?
The cost of each copy is $57 (per tax year). A record of account transcript includes a combination of line items from the originally filed return and later adjustments made by you or the IRS. Transcripts are available for the current and 3 prior tax years, are delivered by mail in about two weeks, and are free of charge.
How to Obtain a Copy or a Transcript
For a copy of your tax return, you will need to fill out form 4506 . This form must be mailed with payment to the appropriate address in the instructions. In order to request a transcript of your tax return, you can call 1-800-908-9946, or mail/fax Form 4506-T , Request for Transcript of Tax Return.