With the federal deadline for online FAFSA applications coming up on June 30th, the IRS reminds the college-bound that the easiest way to verify tax return information is by using the “IRS Data Retrieval Tool.” Yes, I know, it’s nice when the IRS shows it is concerned about more than just collecting on your tax debt.
If you’ve already “been there, done that,” then the acronym FAFSA may bring back some bad memories. If you’re about to embark on your college journey and you’re not wealthy enough to pay cash for tuition, then you’re learning that this stands for “Free Application for Federal Student Aid.” As with many applications, the filling of empty fields is the easy part; it’s the documentation that must be produced (or even just found) to back up what you put on the app that makes the process so tedious. I know my own FAFSA spent a significant amount of time gathering dust on the top of the fridge after I filled out my name and address. But that was several years ago.
These days the FAFSA is completed online, . . . so no dust. But the deadlines are still critical, so anything that speeds up the application process is nice. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool allows students to access tax return information from the IRS website and securely dump it right onto their FAFSA form. All you need is a valid Social Security Number and a Federal Student Aid PIN (which can be obtained on the federal student aid website). Of course, if you have not filed last year’s tax return, then you will not qualify to use this tool because the information will not be available for you. And if you didn’t file, that’s a whole other problem — you may want to talk with an experienced tax relief attorney because you may be on the hook for back taxes, penalties, and interest.