The best advice is to always make a copy of your return and keep it secure for at least seven years. But if you need to get a copy from the IRS, you can get information from a previous return in a format known as a transcript for free - request a transcript by calling the IRS at 1-800-829-1040, or by submitting form 4506T. Allow about two weeks for delivery of the transcript.

If you need a true copy of your paper return submit form 4506, "Request for Copy of Tax Return." This service costs $57 per return requested, and the IRS says it takes about 60 days.

See Need a Copy of Your Tax Return Information? for further information.