If you are a college student, a parent of a college student or a parent of a high school student considering attending college, you are familiar with the online FAFSA form. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid and it is a form used by the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid to determine eligibility for billions of dollars of federal grants, loans and work-study funds for college students.
The FAFSA form can be completed online and until recently contained an Autofill tool that enabled someone filling in the form to have specific financial information from their previous income tax returns automatically retrieved by the IRS and entered in the form thereby making the application process simpler and easier. However, the IRS is now suspending the data retrieval feature on the FAFSA form due to concern about security and potential identity theft. The IRS is estimating that it may take several weeks to remedy the problem. Until then, anyone filling in a FAFSA form will need their previous income tax returns in order to insert the information required to complete the form.
Anyone filling in a FAFSA form at this time will need to get the income tax information necessary to complete the form from hard copies of their income tax returns or from the software used to complete their income tax returns. If an applicant has neither a hard copy nor a digital record of his or her income tax returns, he or she can obtain a transcript of past federal income tax returns from from the IRS. Here is a link to information about how to obtain copies of past tax returns from the IRS.
Everyone should keep copies of past income tax returns, but you should not store them on the hard drive of your computer because storing them on your computer makes you susceptible to identity theft in the event that your computer is hacked. Rather you should store this data either in the cloud or on a portable hard drive.