calculator and pen on top of last year's receipts to calculate previous year AGI for the IRS

How to Find Your Previous Year AGI for the IRS

Before you can e-file your new tax return, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may need your previous year adjusted gross income (AGI). This can cause you to run into a bit of panic, but don’t worry! Following this guide, you can get your AGI from last year. 

Previous Year AGI

You might wonder why you need last year’s adjusted gross income (AGI) for the IRS. The reason many companies request this information is to cut down on the amount of identity theft during tax season. In 2015, it was estimated that tax-refund fraud hit $21 billion, so companies and the IRS are attempting to cut down the number of people who have their identity stolen. While it may be a hassle for some people, it’s an effort to keep people safe from criminals during one of the busiest times of the year. 

Locating Last Year’s Tax Return

The easiest way to get your previous year AGI for the IRS is to find your old tax return. No matter the form, you’ll be able to find your adjusted gross income easily. For form 1040, you’ll find it on line 38. On form 1040A, the AGI is located on line 21. For 1040EZ, you should find it on line four. Finally, if you filed form 1040NR, you’ll find your AGI on line 36.

Lacking Last Year’s Tax Return

If you don’t have your last year’s tax return, you can still find your AGI. To get your previous year’s tax return, you’ll need to contact the IRS (or the company you used to file). Calling whomever you filed with may be the fastest route, especially during tax season. It can take a while for the IRS to get back to you and mail your old tax return, whereas the company you filed with may be able to print off your return from the database. To contact the IRS, you can find the number on their website

If you filed online, you might be able to sign into your account again to recall your previous year’s tax return. This method can be as simple as remembering your username and password. Using this approach allows you to find your AGI without ever leaving your home. 

No Existing File from Last Year

If you didn’t file last year, you need to follow a different method. To e-file, you will be asked: “Did you file a tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) last year?” You should answer “no” to this question, and then your AGI will be adjusted to “0.” If you’re experiencing issues with this method, it would be best to contact the IRS or the company you’re attempting to use to file. 

Last Year’s State Tax Return

Some circumstances may require you to locate your state tax return from last year. If you need this document, you can contact your state’s revenue office rather than the IRS. Each number is different based on where you live, but you can find a complete list of government websites and phone numbers on

Last Updated: December 02, 2016