I’ll admit it. February is not my favorite month because it reminds me of tax returns, bad weather and well, finding my tax information. Ugh. If you are like me, a world-class procrastinator that agonizes every year at the thought of filing a tax return and submitting a FAFSA®, then you are not alone. You also know that it can be time consuming. So, here is why you should use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to instantly transfer your tax information directly into your FAFSA:
1. What is the IRS DRT and how do I use it?
You can find the IRS DRT in the “Financial Information” section of the FAFSA. To use the tool, be sure to indicate that you already completed your tax return. Answer the remaining questions and log in using your FSA ID:
If your tax return information is available and if you are eligible to use it, you will be transferred to the tool. Make sure to provide your information exactly as you provided it on your tax return:
You will be able to preview your tax information before agreeing to have it directly transferred to your FAFSA.
When you return to the FAFSA, you’ll see the relevant questions populated with your information automatically. It’s that easy!
2. Why use this tool?
- It’s so easy that it only takes a couple of clicks to transfer all your tax information.
- It can be used by both students and parents.
- Most importantly, it is accurate so you don’t have to worry about entering the wrong tax information on your FAFSA.
3. When can I use the tool?
The IRS DRT is available the first Sunday in February. However, when your information will be available will depend on when you submitted your tax return. If you e-file your taxes, your information will be available to transfer 2-3 weeks after you file.
4. If I already completed the FAFSA using estimates, can I use the IRS DRT to update my FAFSA once I filed my taxes?
Yes, if you estimated, you will have to update your FAFSA once you have filed your taxes anyway. So why not use the IRS DRT? It’s the easiest way to update your FAFSA. To update your estimates, click “Make FAFSA Corrections” after logging in to fafsa.gov. Navigate to the “Financial Information” section and indicate that you have already completed your taxes. If your tax return information is available and if you are eligible to do so, you should follow the same prompts listed above to transfer your tax return information to your application.
5. Why can’t I use the IRS DRT?
If you’re not seeing the IRS DRT, there may be a few reasons why:
- It is not available for use yet.
- You indicated that you will file or are not going to file a federal income tax return.
- Your marital status changed after Dec. 31 of the previous calendar year.
- The student/parent filed a Form 1040X amended tax return.
- The student/parent filed a Puerto Rican or foreign tax return.
If you are not able to use the IRS DRT, don’t worry. Although you’ll be required to enter your tax information manually, we have great resources on StudentAid.gov that walk you through the process.
Now that you know the secret to transferring your tax information to the FAFSA, I hope you will enjoy the time you saved!
Zelma Barrett is a Management and Program Analyst at Federal Student Aid.