The Difference Between a 1040 & a W-2 IRS Transcript

What Is the Difference Between a 1040 and a W-2 IRS Transcript?
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If you are applying for a mortgage, you might need to prove your income from previous tax years. Some banks and mortgage companies require you to obtain an income tax transcript, which covers information from your 1040 tax form, supporting documents and W-2s. Although both transcripts appear similar, each form provides diverse information to aid in the income verification process. The Internal Revenue Service will provide you with a copy of each transcript after you complete the Request for Transcript of Tax Return form.



A 1040 transcript summarizes the key information on your tax returns such as your filing status, income and tax credits. A W-2 transcript provides wage, retirement contribution and tax withholding information from the W-2 submitted to the IRS by your employer.

What Is a 1040 Transcript?

A 1040 transcript includes all information included in your tax return, such as your personal information, filing status, dependents, income, adjustments to income and tax credits. The structure of a 1040 transcript is similar to Form 1040, without instructions and hints. The transcript also provides information any supporting tax documents, including Schedule C and Schedule EIC, and includes the amount of tax owed or refunded.


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What Is a W-2 Transcript?

A W-2 transcript provides information from a W-2 submitted to the IRS by your employer. The transcript includes information on your employer, wages, income taxes withheld, advanced Earned Income Credit payments, retirement plan contributions and dependent care benefits. Banks use a W-2 transcript to verify employment and compare net income to gross income.


1040 Vs W-2 Application Periods

While a 1040 and a W-2 transcript clearly contain different data, another key difference between a W-2 and 1040 transcript is how long you have to request them. A tax return transcript is only available for the current tax year and three prior tax years. W-2 transcripts cover a much longer period and are available for up to 10 prior years.


How Do You Request a Transcript?

To request a 1040 and W-2 transcript, complete Form 4506-T. The IRS can supply you with transcripts for the past 10 tax years, provided you filed a return. To complete Form 4506-T, you must include your name, Social Security number, spouse information, current address and previous address shown on your return. Enter the appropriate forms you are requesting and check the box next to the form at the bottom of the page. Indicate the years that you are requesting.



If you are requesting more than four years of transcripts, you must attach a separate Form 4506-T to the original form. Sign and date the form and include a daytime telephone number.

Mail Versus Online Transcript Requests

The IRS provides several methods for you to request a 1040 and W-2 transcript. If you choose to mail the form, you must mail it to the correct address designated for your state, as described on the bottom of Form 4506-T. You can also fax the form to the IRS. The fax number for your state is included at the bottom of Form 4506-T.


In addition to mailing or faxing the form, you can order a 1040 and W-2 transcript over the phone or online. To order over the phone, call 800-908-9946. To order a transcript online, visit the Order a Transcript website at



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