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IRS Data Retrieval Tool

The Department of Education is encouraging all applicants to utilize the IRS tax data retrieval process when completing their FAFSA. Northwestern supports this initiative as a more efficient way to submit tax information to our office.  More information can also be found by reviewing the Federal Student Aid step-by-step guide, Transfer Tax Information into Your FAFSA.

What is the IRS Tax Data Retrieval?

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is available to families who file a FAFSA online. It allows families to transfer certain income information from the IRS directly to the FAFSA.

How soon after filing my federal tax forms can I use it?

You must allow sufficient time for your federal taxes to be processed by the IRS before your data is available to be loaded onto your FAFSA:

  • Electronic Tax Filers (E-file): Allow 2 weeks after filing before data is available
  • Paper Tax Filers: Allow 6-8 weeks after filing before data is available

If you submit your FAFSA before you file your federal taxes, then be sure to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to update your FAFSA once the returns have been filed and the income data is available to be retrieved.

Who is not eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?

Additional documentation may be required from families in these categories:

  • Married, filing separately
  • Married, filing head of household
  • Filed Foreign Taxes
  • Filed Amended US Taxes
  • Non-tax Filer

What if I choose not to use the tool?

Families who do not use the tool may be contacted to submit additional documentation. Including federal tax returns, federal tax transcript, W-2s, etc.