Introduction - IRS Data Retrieval Tool
Over the past few years, the Department of Education has gradually implemented a new online feature called the IRS Data Retrieval tool.
This secure online feature enables an applicant and his/her parents or spouse to view, request and transfer IRS tax data directly into the FAFSA application online (http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/). Instead of manually entering in tax information from the previous calendar year, or estimating this information, applicants now have a much more accurate tool for reporting their financial data.
Most notably, the IRS Data Retrieval tool will greatly reduce a student's chance of being selected for the Verification process, which delays the disbursement of Financial Aid funds to a student's account (more details below) until it is complete.
The IRS Data retrieval tool will streamline the financial aid application process by providing a more accurate analysis of an applicant's Expected Family Contribution (EFC), and providing a more efficient means to fulfill Verification Requirements. (These regulatory changes are given in subpart E of part 668 of title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations).
SMU encourages all eligible first-year and continuing students to complete the FAFSA online and to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. Students and/or parents are eligible if they:
- have a valid US Social Security Number (not all 6's, 8's or 0's)
- have a Federal Student Aid pin
- have had no marital status change after Dec. 31, 2012
- Have already filed tax return with the IRS (either electronically or via paper form) at the time of completing the FAFSA.
- Have not filed an amended tax return with IRS for 2012 (Form 1040X)
- Did not file for 2012 as "married filing separately"
- Did not file a foreign (or Puerto Rican) tax return
How it works
1. Enter your PIN and click Link to IRS
2. Your FAFSA will be saved and you will be transferred to the IRS Web site.
3. On the IRS Web site, enter the requested information.
4. Once the IRS has validated your identification, your IRS tax information will display. You can either transfer your information from the IRS, or choose to return to FAFSA on the Web from the IRS Web site. If you do not transfer your information or choose not to return from the IRS Web site, you will have to login to open your saved FAFSA.
5. If you transfer your IRS tax information, questions that are populated with tax information will be marked with "Transferred from the IRS."
Notes: you will see a message about using the IRS Retrieval Tool on the confirmation page of the FAFSA on the Web if:
- you are eligible and choose not to transfer IRS tax information
- you are not eligible only because you reported estimated data on your FAFSA due to your tax data not being available
Here's what it looks like
The student and/or parent must have a Federal Student Aid pin to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
If you don't use the Retrieval Tool, you will have to enter income information manually.
This is what you'll see when leaving FAFSA on the Web and entering the secure IRS.gov site
Once at the IRS portal, applicant will have to authenticate themselves to access information.
After viewing tax information, applicant has the option to transfer it to the the FAFSA, or decline.
If the information is not transferred, there's a higher chance for Verification selection, and student must submit the "IRS Data Retrieval Tool Not Utilized" form to SMU.
You have not used the Retrieval Tool successfully until you are transferred from the IRS website back into the FAFSA website and see this confirmation message.
The Verification process ensures that information entered on an applicant's FAFSA is accurate. Furthermore, it helps schools disburse federal funds in a fair and equitable manner to benefit all eligible students. The Department of Education selects a certain percentage of an institution's students for the verification process. SMU can also select students for verification if there is conflicting data between the FAFSA, CSS Profile, and/or tax data. Using the IRS Data Retrieval tool on an applicant's initial FAFSA submission significantly reduces an applicant's chance of being selected for verification, thus reducing the delay in awarding and disbursing financial aid to a student's account.
Notification of selection
If selected, students will be notified of the verification requirement by a comment on their SAR (Student Aid Report) and by an Official Financial Aid Notification from SMU (sent to the student's campus email address). Also, a "To-Do list" will be created on the student's account, listing the required documents to be submitted. The list of required items can be viewed on the student's Pony Tracks page in Access.SMU.edu (log in with SMU ID, then navigate to Student Center, Financial Aid, Pony Tracks, and finally Step 2). If institutionally selected, no comment will appear on SAR, but notification will still be sent out and "To-Do list" created.
IRS Tax Transcripts
If an applicant is not eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, or is eligible and elects not to use it, then an IRS Tax Return Transcript must be requested and submitted to SMU. Also, if a student or parent alters his/her tax information after using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, then an IRS Tax Return Transcript must be submitted in order to provide SMU with the most accurate data.
Due to Department of Education rules, we are not permitted to accept copies of a person's Form 1040/A/EZ, unless the student or parent can provide proof that obtaining an IRS Tax Return Transcript was not possible.
Click here for information on how to Request an IRS Transcript. If you encounter difficulty with these instructions, please try calling the alternate number to request a transcript: 1-800-829-1040.
Signatures on transcripts are not required, but highly encouraged. If ordered over the phone, transcripts cannot be sent directly to SMU. If ordered online or via mail, the IRS will accommodate this request as long as the Financial Aid fax number is given (214-768-3878 or 214-768-3997) and not simply SMU as an institution.
Also, it is crucial that neither a Tax Summary nor a Tax Account Transcript are requested from the IRS. These are not sufficient as they are typically one page long and only contain minimal data from the original Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ.
A more convenient option exists for students who did not use the data retrieval tool on their initial FAFSA submission. As long as the above eligibility guidelines are met (i.e., a valid SSN exists for student and parent, no marital status change after Dec. 31, 2012, etc.) an applicant can use the data retrieval tool to fulfill the verification requirement. Instead of waiting on the IRS to send a transcript, the process can be completed after submission of the Dependent/ Independent Verification Statement and SMU receives the FAFSA correction from the Department of Education.
No, in order to be counted in the "number in college," your sibling must have graduated high school and be enrolled at least half-time in an accredited post-secondary institution from June 30, 2013 to July 1, 2014
If they have filed an extension, the Retrieval Tool cannot be used until taxes are filed with the IRS. SMU's verification policies allow a student who is selected for verification to be conditionally awarded for the Fall semester, contingent upon completion of verification on or before the IRS extension deadline (mid-October).
No, in this situation, tax information has to be entered manually.
If you file an amended return after you use the Retrieval Tool, you cannot use the Retrieval Tool to submit the tax data updates on a FAFSA correction.
If selected for verification you have to submit tax transcripts
No, filing an amended return after an initial FAFSA submission renders an applicant ineligible on any subsequent submissions/corrections
No, state tax forms are not used for federal student aid
Financial Aid awards will not be disbursed until verification is complete. If all verification documents are not received prior to the tuition payment due date, then there may be a balance on your student account. Please contact the Bursar's office for details on late fees (http://smu.edu/bursar/; (214)-768-3417).
No, any marital status change after Dec. 31, 2010 makes an applicant ineligible to use the Retrieval Tool
No. In this case, your parents would be considered as "married filing separately" for verification purposes.
By Fax: (214) 768-3878 or (214) 768-3997
ATTN: Financial Aid Advisor
Southern Methodist University
Division of Enrollment Services
P.O. Box 750181
Dallas, TX 75275-0181
By Email: FA.Verification@mail.smu.edu
In person: at the Financial Aid Front Desk on the 1st floor of the Laura Lee Blanton Bldg
Please call the Financial Aid office at 214-768-3417, or come by the Blanton Student Services building