Monthly Archives: July 2014

Request a Transcript or Copy of a Prior Year Tax Return

Request a Transcript or Copy of a Prior Year Tax Return: from the IRS

You may need copies of your filed tax returns for many reasons. For example, they can help you prepare future tax returns. You’ll need them if you have to amend a prior year tax return. You often need them when you apply for a loan to buy a home or to start a business. You may need them if you apply for student aid. If you can’t find your copies, the IRS can give you a transcript of the information you need, or a copy of your tax return. Here’s how to get your federal tax return information from the IRS:

• Transcripts are free and you can get them for the current year and the past three years. In most cases, a transcript includes the tax information you need.

• A tax return transcript shows most line items from the tax return that you filed. It also includes items from any accompanying forms and schedules that you filed. It doesn’t reflect any changes you or the IRS made after you filed your original return.

• A tax account transcript includes your marital status, the type of return you filed, your adjusted gross income and taxable income. It does include any changes that you or the IRS made to your tax return after you filed it.

• You can get your free transcripts immediately online. You can also get them by phone, by mail or by fax within five to 10 days from the time IRS receives your request.

– To view and print your transcripts online, go to and use the Get Transcript tool. – To order by phone, call 800-908-9946 and follow the prompts. You can also request your transcript using your smartphone with the IRS2Go mobile phone app. – To request an individual tax return transcript by mail or fax, complete Form 4506T-EZ, Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript. Businesses and individuals who need a tax account transcript should use Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return.

• If you need a copy of your filed and processed tax return, it will cost $50 for each tax year. You should complete Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return, to make the request. Mail it to the IRS address listed on the form for your area. Copies are generally available for the current year and past six years. You should allow 75 days for delivery

Trust inheritance provisions to protect your children’s inheritance from in-laws and divorce

Just because California is a community property State does not mean that an inheritance here is community property.

For a married Californian, property received by gift or inheritance is separate property, not community property.

For many parents, that fact alone is enough protection.

Perhaps most parents have confidence that their children will do the “right thing” with the inheritance, be that keep it separate or commingle it.

But many parents fear that any number of “bad results” will follow from their son-in-law or daughter-in-law’s influence over the inheritance. Some fear the inheritance may be lost in a divorce. Others fear that the in-law’s children from a prior marriage may wind up with the inheritance. Many simply want to protect their child from a divorce or from a manipulative in-law. Such parents wonder what can be done to protect their child’s inheritance.

Here are two planning options to help preserve the separate property character of your child’s inheritance:

  1. Your trust could state your wishes that, before your child receive his or her inheritance, your consult privately with an attorney as to how to preserve the separate property character of the inheritance. In other words, you want your child to get an education about this before the trustee gives the inheritance.
  2. Some parents believe that simply asking their child to get such an education before the inheritance is received will not work.  Perhaps the child cannot withstand the ongoing pressure or manipulations of the spouse. Perhaps the child is incapable of following directions. Perhaps it would inevitable that the child would commingle the separate property with community property so as to make the inheritance “50-50″ community property. Perhaps, to the parents’ dismay,  the child simply wants to make it “50-50.” For these parents, the options to explore involve leaving the child’s inheritance in trust. While there are countless types of such trusts, what they all have in common is that the inheritance in trust remains separate property and is bound by the terms written by the parents for their child. For example, such a trust would spell out:
  • Appointment of the trustee and the successor trustees
  • Guidelines for trust investments
  • When trust income and trust principal can be used for the child (or the college education or other needs of the child’s children)
  • When the trust ends and who inherits the trust when it ends
  • Who inherits if the child dies during the trust
  • Tax planning for the trust, including estate tax, income tax, property tax, and generation skipping transfer tax planning

The point is that, in California,  there are many options available (from simple to more complicated) to protect your wishes as to how to preserve the separate property character of your beneficiary’s inheritance.

copyright James J. Phillips 2014


Trust inheritance provision to help your beneficiaries buy a home

Your living trust can provide that, after your death, wealth remains in trust for your child (or other intended beneficiary) to help with designated purposes.

Well known examples of such purposes are health and education. But another purpose is help with buying a house.

For example, your trust could provide that, after your death, the trustee may help your  beneficiary buy a house, with such assistance not to exceed a certain percentage of the purchase price (such as 20% or 30%). In other words, the trust could provide the down payment  for the house.

Under this trust concept for assistance in buying a house, elements to consider include your wishes as to:

  1. Is this assistance solely for a principal residence?
  2. For a married beneficiary, do you want the assistance to acquire a separate property interest?
  3. What are the minimum age and minimum educational requirements to be eligible for this assistance?
  4. Must the beneficiary qualify for whatever mortgage is necessary in order to buy the house?
  5. Who will be trustee (and alternate trustees) of the trust? (See prior post on that subject.)
  6. Is this concept consistent with how you would like the inheritance to improve your beneficiary’s life?

copyright James J. Phillips 2014