IRS Data Retrieval Process

In January 2010, Federal Student Aid (FSA) implemented a new feature in FAFSA that allowed financial aid applicants and their parents to retrieve and transfer, from the IRS using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT), certain income and information reported on their federal income tax returns. This capability assured the most accurate information was being used on the applicants FAFSAs.

What is the IRS Data Retrieval Process?

The IRS Data Retrieval Process is a way to get your tax information directly from the IRS without having to have a copy of your taxes with you when you complete the FAFSA.

If you have filed a federal tax return, you will be asked if you want to retrieve your information directly from the IRS. If you select this option, you will be guided through the process.

Once your information is transferred from the IRS to your FAFSA, it will be marked that has been transferred from the IRS. This verifies that the information on the FAFSA has been matched and verified with the IRS.

Important Changes to the 2012-2013 FAFSA Process
  • All FAFSA applicants who indicate they have filed a federal tax return will be directed to use the IRS DRT.
  • FAFSA applicants and parents who indicate they will file a federal tax return will receive email communication directing them to use the IRS DRT to update their income information once they have filed their 2011 federal tax return.
  • Applicants selected for the federal verification process will be strongly encouraged to use the IRS DRT. Those who refuse will have to send an IRS tax return transcript to the University which may result in a processing delay.
Benefits of Using the Tool
  • Applicants can complete their FAFSA more easily and accurately.
  • Financial aid awards will be more accurate.
  • Applicants selected for Federal Verification can use the tool to verify their income information, avoiding unnecessary processing delays.
Eligibility for Using the IRS DRT

If you meet any of the criteria below, you will not be able to utilize the IRS DRT and, therefore, must manually enter your tax return information.

  • Tax filer's filing status is 'Married Filing Separately'
  • Tax filer's filing status is 'Head of Household'
  • Applicants whose marital status has changed as of January 1, 2012
  • Tax filer has filed an amended return
  • Tax filer files a foreign return in lieu of federal return
  • Tax filer files a return for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in lieu of federal return
  • Tax filer recently filed federal return (see below for timing)
  • Applicants who are neither eligible nor required to file a 2011 federal tax return

Availability of Data from the IRS

To allow time for data to be available from the IRS, applicants must wait the appropriate amount of time before being able to use the IRS DRT on the FAFSA. The IRS has suggested the following, based on your tax filing method:

  • Electronic tax filers: within 2 weeks of filing taxes
  • Paper tax filers: within 6 to 8 weeks of filing taxes

IRS DRT and Federal Verification

If your FAFSA is selected for Federal verification, the requirement for verifying you and your parents/spouse (if applicable) tax return information will be satisfied if you utilized the IRS DRT. Please note that if you make any updates to your FAFSA's tax information once the IRS DRT has been used, you will be required to support your changes to us by sending a federal tax return transcript and tax account transcript.

Please do not send us your tax transcripts unless you have been selected for Federal verification and you are unable to use the IRS DRT.

Do I have to use the IRS Data Retrieval Process?

No, you do not have to use the IRS Data Retrieval Process. However, if you have filed your federal tax return and choose not to use this process or enter different tax information on the FAFSA than what is recorded with the IRS, you will be required to explain to your school why your information is more accurate than what has been reported to the IRS. You may also be required to obtain a copy of your federal tax transcript directly from the IRS to verify the information you reported on your FAFSA.

Using the IRS DRT to update your tax information

If you initially filed your FAFSA using 'estimated' tax information or chose not to use the IRS DRT, you can follow these steps to utilize the IRS DRT:

As early as two weeks after filing taxes electronically (or six to eight weeks if filing paper), the applicant should be able utilize the IRS DRT.

  1. Log in to FAFSA
  2. Select 'Make FAFSA Corrections'
  3. Enter student's PIN and FAFSA password created at time of original filing
  4. Select the 'Financial Information' tab

Parent information is displayed first (if student is dependent).

  1. Select 'Already Completed' from the drop-down box for the question 'For 2011, have your parents completed their IRS income tax return or another tax return?'
  2. Answer the filter question
  3. If the parent can answer 'None of the Above', the parent must first select which parent they are and then enter his/her FSA PIN to authorize accessing the IRS data.
  4. Select the 'LINK TO IRS' button to access the IRS DRT and transfer the tax information to the FAFSA.
  5. Repeat steps 1 – 4 for Student Tax Information (if a tax filer).
  6. Continue selecting the 'Next' arrow at the bottom of the page until you reach the 'Sign & Submit' page and complete final steps to submitting correction.

The University of Delaware will receive an updated Student Aid Report to notify us that the IRS DRT was used. For applicants selected for federal verification, this should satisfy the IRS tax documentation requirement.