The Internal Revenue Service has announced that it won’t begin accepting 2012 tax returns until January 30. This in turn delays the availability of the Department of Education’s IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) for the 2013-2014 FAFSA. The January 30 start date is eight days later than originally planned due to the January 2 enactment of tax law changes made to resolve the “fiscal cliff”.
The IRS DRT is scheduled to go live for the 2013-2014 award year on February 3, 2013. However, since tax data is generally not available for retrieval for at least three weeks after a tax return is electronically filed, the earliest that the DRT will have 2012 tax information available for retrieval will be late February.
Verification rules require that applicants selected for verification who are also tax filers must either use the DRT or provide the school with an IRS Tax Return Transcript, except under very limited circumstances. In GEN-12-07 and subsequently in a November 2 electronic announcement, ED allowed schools to accept a signed copy of the relevant 2011 IRS Tax Return as acceptable verification documentation for the 2012-13 award year from applicants who had attempted unsuccessfully to use the DRT or to obtain an IRS Tax Return Transcript. To date, ED has not extended this guidance to the 2013-14 award year.