How to Read IRS Transcript 2020

Understanding your IRS transcript is essential when it comes to managing your taxes and resolving any issues with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It provides a detailed record of your tax account, including your tax return, payments, and any adjustments made by the IRS. Reading an IRS transcript can be overwhelming at first, but with some guidance, you can easily decipher the information it contains. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to read an IRS transcript in 2020.

Step 1: Obtaining your Transcript

To obtain your IRS transcript, you have a few options. You can request it online through the IRS website, by phone, or by mail. The quickest way is through the IRS online tool called “Get Transcript.” You will need to provide your personal information and answer a few security questions to verify your identity.

Step 2: Understanding the Transcript Format

Once you have your IRS transcript, you need to understand its format. The 2020 IRS transcript uses a numeric code system to represent different types of information. Here are some of the common codes you may encounter:

– 150: Tax return filed
– 806: An adjustment made to your account
– 766: Overpayment applied to other tax periods
– 570: Additional liability pending
– 846: Refund issued
– 971: Notice issued

Step 3: Reviewing the Tax Account Section

The first section of the transcript is the “Tax Account” section. This provides an overview of your tax return, including the filing date, tax period, and any payments made. It also includes important information such as:

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– Adjustments made to your account
– Additional tax liabilities
– Refunds issued or pending
– Notices or letters sent by the IRS

Step 4: Analyzing the Transaction Codes

The next section of the transcript contains the “Transaction Codes.” These codes provide details about specific actions taken by the IRS on your tax account. Each code is followed by a date that indicates when the action was recorded. Some common transaction codes include:

– TC 150: Tax return filed
– TC 570: Additional tax liability pending
– TC 571: Additional tax liability removed
– TC 846: Refund issued
– TC 971: Notice issued

Step 5: Decoding the Account Transcript

The “Account Transcript” section provides a detailed breakdown of your tax account for each tax year. It includes information such as:

– Income reported
– Deductions claimed
– Payments made
– Penalties and interest assessed
– Adjustments made by the IRS

By reviewing this section, you can identify any discrepancies or errors in your tax return and take appropriate action.


1. How long does it take to receive an IRS transcript?
It typically takes 5 to 10 business days to receive an IRS transcript through the mail. Online requests are usually processed immediately.

2. Can I request a transcript for multiple tax years?
Yes, you can request transcripts for multiple tax years using the IRS online tool or by phone/mail.

3. Are IRS transcripts the same as tax returns?
No, IRS transcripts provide a summary of your tax account activity, while tax returns are the actual forms you submit to report your income and deductions.

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4. What if I find an error on my IRS transcript?
If you find an error, you should contact the IRS to rectify the issue. You may need to provide supporting documentation to prove your case.

5. Can the IRS transcript be used as a substitute for a tax return?
No, an IRS transcript cannot be used as a substitute for a tax return. It is only a record of your tax account activity.

6. How often should I review my IRS transcript?
It is recommended to review your IRS transcript at least once a year to ensure the accuracy of your tax account.

7. Can I request an IRS transcript for someone else?
Yes, but you will need proper authorization from the individual, such as a power of attorney or signed Form 8821.

8. Are there any fees associated with obtaining an IRS transcript?
No, obtaining an IRS transcript is free of charge whether you request it online, by phone, or by mail.

In conclusion, reading an IRS transcript is not as complex as it may seem. By following these steps and understanding the different sections and codes, you can gain valuable insights into your tax account and deal with any issues that may arise. It is important to review your IRS transcript regularly to ensure the accuracy of your tax records.

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