Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.
Please take a moment to read our updated TOS, Privacy Policy, and Forum Rules.

Why the IRS retrieval tool didn't work for me, and maybe you

laticheverlatichever Registered User Posts: 1,516 Senior Member
Like many here, I've been unable to get the IRS retrieval tool to work. I filed my taxes over a month ago. I called the IRA, took about an hour while I was routed around. Spoke to someone at their tech support help desk. They were basically clueless--hadn't even heard of the tool--and they elevated the case. Somebody will supposedly call me back.

Then, I called the college my daughter will attend (should have done that first), and the woman immediately asked me if I had set up my e-filing so I would remit the taxes owed sometime after I filed.

BINGO. My tax payment just went through today. She said that the tool won't work until you have done everything relative to your taxes including making required payments.

She added I should be able to use the tool about two weeks after my taxes are paid. The same holds true for going to your local IRS office and getting an official transcript.

I'll see in two weeks. Fortunately, I have a May 1 deadline.
Post edited by latichever on

Replies to: Why the IRS retrieval tool didn't work for me, and maybe you

  • crazymomstercrazymomster Registered User Posts: 1,872 Senior Member
    I don't think you'll be able to link in 2 weeks. Maybe if you had made payment in January, but not now. And yes, this is exactly why most people can't use the data retrieval tool. Unfortunately the post that said that didn't get stickied.
  • MaryOCMaryOC Registered User Posts: 517 Member
    Same thing happened here. We were holding off paying after e-filing, but eventually did pay, after weeks of being unable to get the retrieval tool to work....figuring that had to be the reason.

    We cut and mailed a check on 3/22, and it was cashed by the IRS immediately, of course. It cleared our bank account on 3/27. I have been trying to link through FAFSA daily since then ...but still no luck.

    I contacted both my son's school and my daughter's intended school for next year to explain, and both FA offices were very aware of the problem.

    My son's school told me they have no set date for receipt of the data through the IRS Retrievel Tool, because they are aware of the problem with delayed access. They said as long as they have everything else through FAFSA and IDOC, they will be able to put together a FA award...which can be verified at a later date via the IRS Retrieval Tool.

    My daughter's intended school determined an initial award based on our submitted FAFSA & CSS Profile info, but they are going to look at further documentation to reconsider our needs. They told us once her award package is finalized/accepted by us, they will require that we follow through with the IRS retrieval tool before any funds are released.
  • laticheverlatichever Registered User Posts: 1,516 Senior Member
    You'd think the IRS error message would say that for the purpose of the retrieval tool your tax filing isn't considered complete until you pay your taxes. But that would be asking too much. And I won't be surprised if I won't be able to use the tool two weeks after
    paying. At least I hope I'll be able to get an official tax printout, which the school said they'd accept, from the local IRS office, less than a mile from home.
  • laticheverlatichever Registered User Posts: 1,516 Senior Member
    I received a call back from a knowledgeable IRS agent this evening. She said that the finaid officer who told me that my return would be processed as complete a couple of weeks after a payment (even though I had filed weeks ago) was "partly correct." She said, with a balance due filing it is necessary to pay (or establish a payment plan) before it will process but payment is not sufficient to finalize it. Right now, she said, they're focussing on returns with refunds and the balance due returns are back in the queue.

    Actually, she was not familiar with the retrieval tool, but got up to speed quickly, recognizing that there is nothing about it on IRS.gov but that it's a special link from fafsa. She initially called my problem "unusual," but I mentioned that there are thousands of college applicants each year who could run into this type of problem; so why don't you have more than an opaque error message and a number to call. She replied that she knew somebody possibly relevant, and she would bring it to his attention.

    Do I have any reason not to believe my kid's college won't be reasonable if there's an issue with the May 1 deadline?
  • CakeladyCakelady Registered User Posts: 17 New Member
    Our taxes were efiled in late February. I sent a check immediately for the amount due. (Around Feb 22nd). A month later, although the check had cleared I was unable to use the retrieval tool. I was able to get a tax transcript (called and they faxed it to me while I was on the phone). This week for D2 I was able to get the tool to work. I just need to understand that nothing the government sets up ever works the way they tell you it will. I don't understand why the payment has to be processed before the retrieval can work. Ridiculous.
  • ToniWalterToniWalter Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    I have a similar dilemma. Filed electronically in mid-Feb, w/taxes owed - paid the taxes...but the IRS Advocate told me the other day ALL returns w/a balance due will NOT be processed until after 4/15, even if you paid the taxes and check has been cashed. Which means, you CANNOT get a Transcript NOR use the FAFSA retrieval tool for at least 10 days after 4/15, and that assumes you are in the early batch of returns processed.

    We got fin aid award letters from 5 of my son's 8 schools, but the other three, which include 2 top choices, adamantly refuse to issue even a tentative award until they get the Transcript. (We are both self-employed and have submitted the Income Verification Documents they requested). I have tried explaining the problem, in relation to the May 1 deadline, but neither will budge.

    What are we to do? Make the decision blind to the financial repercussions? Although the FAOs say they are aware of the problem, they wouldn't offer any assistance/changes in policy. I wonder if there is anyone in the administration of these schools, higher up, who is even aware this is going on. The way I understand it is, this is the first year schools are required to take only the Transcript and NOT a copy of the return.

    Anyone else having this problem?
  • GeminiMomGeminiMom Registered User Posts: 316 Member
    Toni -- I'm not sure if the process has changed, but I e-filed the second week in February and paid the full amount owed the following week. It took about 10 days after my check cleared for me to be able to order my transcript online. The transcript came in the mail 10 days after I ordered it.
  • CorinthmomCorinthmom Registered User Posts: 26 New Member
    I was unable to upload IRS info into FAFSA file and I did not owe taxes. They owed me. So I then updated FAFSA info manually which is an option. Unknown to me, doing the changes manually sent a message to at least one college saying I declined to have IRS info electronically populated..... not accurate. I did not decline, I was not able. The FA person read the notice from IRS and it definitely had tone.
  • Lulusmom2Lulusmom2 Registered User Posts: 137 Junior Member
    I am also unable to use the tool and I did not owe nor make any errors on my info.
  • MaryOCMaryOC Registered User Posts: 517 Member
    FAFSA rep told me to make sure all bytes of info such as St. and Street, Rd. and Road, W. and West etc. are the exact same in FAFSA, as for filed tax return. That means zip code Vs. zip + 4, etc. Apparently the link won't work for subtle differences like that.

    Toni... I was on hold for 54 minutes today, before I could speak to an IRS representative, who confirmed your same story. She said a two week window (after check is cleared) may work, but they are responding to all such inquiries that neither the retrieval tool nor the ability to order a tax transcript will be available until 4/17...which is when they begin to process accounts that owed taxes. She apologized...but said the retrieval tool was FAFSA's requirement, not that of the IRS.
  • MaryOCMaryOC Registered User Posts: 517 Member
    And FWIW...

    When I asked how prevalent this issue has been for the IRS this season, she told me that she has been taking an average of 40 phone calls/day...and 2 or 3 of them are facing the same issue as you and I.
  • prouduscdadprouduscdad Registered User Posts: 86 Junior Member
    I was not able to use the tool. Went to the closest IRS office. Was there when they opened. Walked out 15 min. later with a transcript. Give it a try.
  • lizardlizard Registered User Posts: 3,410 Senior Member
    I just tried updating my FAFSA with IRS retrieval tool and it didn't take. Just read here about having to pay taxes due before I can use the tool. It doesn't seem right to prevent using the tool when I am not delinquent with payment that isn't due until Apr 17th. Too, I'll be a new graduate student next year; it seems sorta wrong that I even have to pay any income taxes because most of my income is from financial aid and scholarships anyway. Soon as I can find the $168 due the IRS, I'll send it in to them; I know everyone in America is depending on me getting my payment in to keep the wheels moving!
  • MaryOCMaryOC Registered User Posts: 517 Member

    I was able to link my tax info through the IRS Data Retrieval Tool TODAY, for both kiddos. My tax payment cleared/posted to my bank account on 3/27/12. Today marks the 10 day mark.
  • BroadwayDreamsBroadwayDreams Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
    I appreciate your experiences, but I was able to get a transcript for 2010 even though I owed for that year, and was able to link it for 2011 summer Financial Aid even though it is not required for 2011/12. I was told ( by IRS) that my return would not be processed until after April 15 unless I paid the tax owed - once it is processed I will be able to link it, regardless of whether I send a check or not.
This discussion has been closed.