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FAQs

Can I eliminate the need to submit an IRS generated tax return transcript?

Students and parents or students and spouses who import their income tax return information using the IRS Data Retrieval Process – either when initially completing the FAFSA or through the correction process – will be considered to have verified the FAFSA IRS information for Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), taxes paid, and untaxed income reported on the tax form. This is the fastest, easiest and most secure method to provide your tax data. However, if changes were made to the imported information or if the institution has reason to believe that the information transferred is inaccurate, the applicant must submit an IRS generated tax return transcript.

How do I print a tax return transcript?

You may print a tax return transcript at irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript within 45 days of electronically filing your federal tax return. Or you may order a tax return transcript by calling the IRS at (800) 908-9946. This is a summary of your tax return and is required if you cannot perform the IRS Data Retrieval process. Federal guidelines no longer permit us to receive a signed copy of your federal tax documents.

Why is a signed copy of my federal tax document no longer sufficient for verification?

Congress now mandates tax return transcripts as the only document that an applicant, parents and/or spouse may provide. This change was enacted to ensure federal funds are distributed to eligible applicants, decrease errors on the FAFSA and reduce fraud.

What if I haven’t filed a tax return yet?

If your tax return has not been filed yet but you have been granted a filing extension by the IRS, you must submit the required documentation as soon as you do file your tax returns.  Once you have filed your federal tax returns, you may use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool in the FAFSA or request a Tax Return Transcript in about three weeks if you filed electronically.

I can’t locate all my W-2 forms; what can I do?

Federal law requires the submission of all W-2 forms from all employment sources for non-tax filers. SUNY Potsdam will request them for tax filers as well. If the employer is still in business, you must contact them and request a duplicate copy of your W-2 form. If you can’t obtain a W-2 from your employer, you can request a copy or transcript from the IRS.

What if my parents are divorced but filed a joint tax return?

If the legal parents, regardless of gender, are divorced/separated and are still living together both parents income must be provided; thus, submit the IRS tax return transcript for each parent. You will also need to submit W-2 forms for both parents.

If the legal parents, regardless of gender, are divorced/separated and are NOT living together, but filed a joint tax return, you will need to submit the IRS generated joint tax return transcript to the Financial Aid Office. You will also need to submit the W-2 forms for both parents. Only the income of the parent with whom the student lived the most during the past 12 months will be considered.

What tax information do I submit if my parent is remarried?

If the parent you live with is remarried and a joint tax return was filed, you may simply transfer the tax data to the FAFSA via the IRS Data Retrieval Process if you have not already done so at fafsa.gov. If separate tax forms were filed, federal guidelines require the Financial Aid Office to receive the IRS generated tax return transcript from each individual (parent and stepparent) even if the stepparent doesn’t help pay for the student’s education.

What tax information do I submit if my parent is widowed?

If your parent is widowed and filed a joint tax return with the deceased parent, you must submit the IRS generated tax return transcript to the Financial Aid Office along with the both parents’ W-2 forms.  Only the income of the surviving parent will be considered, if the parent was widowed as of the date that the FAFSA was completed.

Referral of Fraud Cases

According to federal regulations, if the Financial Aid Office suspects that a student or parent has misreported information or altered documentation to fraudulently obtain federal funds, we are obligated to report that suspicion and provide evidence to the U.S. Office of Inspector General. If you purposely give false or misleading information, you may be fined up to $20,000, sent to prison, or both.