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Tax Prep & Filing

Tax Records Online

By year-end, you'll be able to access your old 1040s instantly.

When disaster strikes, you're likely to shed tears over a wedding album lost in a flood or a house fire. But lost tax returns can give you a major headache. Not for long, though. The IRS wants to put your tax account online, following in the e-footsteps of your bank and credit-card company.

By year-end, the new "my IRS" accounts could be accessible through a supersecure portal of the agency's Web site, At first, you'll likely be able to view and print return data and other account information going back three years. As the system develops, you may be able to file for an extension, request a change of address or do other tasks online.

You can get free tax-return transcripts now from the IRS, but receiving them by mail can take weeks. Taxpayers who estimate taxes and make quarterly payments may also find online access a boon, says tax preparer Joe Kristan at Roth & Co., in Des Moines. "People forget they wrote a check or sent a payment -- or they think they remember ones they didn't send. It's the most common single source of mistakes we see in our office."