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Downloading Past Years Tax Returns

Hello I'm trying to use the desktop version of turbo tax to acomplish filing my 2020 years taxes and the first hurdle I'm stuck at is downloading 2019 tax forms from the website. I can see the place to go to do this but ever time I click on it it says I didn't file using turbo tax last year. So are those documents behind a paywall? I just paid 120 for the home software and am stuck and frustrated please help!





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11 Replies

Downloading Past Years Tax Returns

This should maybe be answered by a Turbo Tax employee; however, in the interest of getting you a quick response, I think the correct answer is that, if you are new to using Turbo Tax in 2021, then the reason you can't use Turbo Tax to download your 2019 Return is that Turbo Tax simply does not have it because you didn't use Turbo Tax for your 2019 Return.  Next year, and for years after that, if you continue as a Turbo Tax customer, you will be able to access prior years' returns.  Hope this helps.


PS  The initial downloading of prior year's returns serves mostly to help you not have to retype basic information that Turbo Tax already has.  It's not a game stopper, so you can still proceed with your 2020 Return.  You'll just have to type in more information instead of having it pop up "automatically."

Downloading Past Years Tax Returns

Thanks for taking the time to reply. I did actually use turbo tax to file in 2019 and can see button to download that return but it's not working giving me a message that I didn't use their services to file last year so I can't. It almost seems like it's behind a paywall as a penalty for not filing with them last year. I filed an extension last year then didn't file till trying to do it now--it's been a crazy year. 

Thanks for taking the time to write. I'll try and do it without having that.




Downloading Past Years Tax Returns

Did you use the Desktop version or Turbotax or the Online version for 2019? Only the Online version would be saved online by Turbotax...the Desktop version is only saves on your local hard drive.  

Downloading Past Years Tax Returns

I used the online version to file the 2019. I can see it but it won't download for some reason. Talked with tech support and he said it's impossible for me to download it for some reason I cannot comprehend. 

Downloading Past Years Tax Returns

Ouch! I'm sorry to hear that. You should be able to order a copy from the IRS, For tonight, you probably should file an extension for 2021 with your Turbotax Desktop to buy some time, and so you won't get another late filing penalty. I feel your pain as I've been in the same spot before. Good Luck!

Downloading Past Years Tax Returns

I am having the same exact issue. I have filed using TurboTax every year since 2007, with the exception of 2020, when I did not file. I am filing now and have hit a brick wall when trying to access my 2019 return and any previous returns for that matter. I have requested all my data from TurboTax, but they said it could be up to 45 days for them to release it. This is ridiculous. I would like to know why I cannot access my past returns

Intuit Alumni

Downloading Past Years Tax Returns

Do you typically file using online or desktop? 


If you would like immediate assistance, please click here to contact customer support. @tishnicden

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Downloading Past Years Tax Returns



I have always filed online. For 2020, I am having to file desktop. 

Katina S
Intuit Alumni

Downloading Past Years Tax Returns

See the instructions in our FAQ regarding how to access your previous years' tax returns filed with TurboTax online. Once you click on download/print return (PDF), you can save it and/or print it.




You can request a transcript on the IRS Get Transcript site, in which you would not have to pay. Keep in mind you will need to create an account with the IRS, which is free to do!



Downloading Past Years Tax Returns

@jeffelm1  thank you for this!

"Only the Online version would be saved online by Turbotax...the Desktop version is only saved on your local hard drive."


Gesh! I've spent so much time trying to follow instructions to download my previous returns. I didn't do them on-line; I did them on my PC and lost them.

I'll just have to try to re-create them. Thanks!

Downloading Past Years Tax Returns

This is my mini version of  a tutorial  that should be in the downloaded program: 



What is Forms Mode?

Forms Mode lets you view and make changes to your tax forms "behind the scenes."

If you're adventurous, you can even prepare your return in Forms Mode, but we don't recommend it. You may miss obscure credits and deductions you qualify for, and you may forget to report things that will come back and haunt you later.

Forms Mode is exclusively available in the TurboTax CD/Download software. It is not available in TurboTax Online.


Related Information:


If you want to play around with different figures and tax scenarios without affecting your original return you can ….

  • >>>In the TurboTax CD/Download software by creating a test copy
  • 1.  Open your return in TurboTax. 
  • 2.  From the File menu, choose Save As. 
  • 3.  Give the copy a new name to distinguish it from the original (for example, by adding "Test" or "Example" to the file name). 
  • 4. Click  Save. You are now safely working in the test copy and anything you do here will not affect the original. 
  •  https://ttlc.intuit.com/questions/1900642-how-to-make-a-test-copy-of-your-return


  • >>  use the WHAT IF tool: 
  • - Click Forms Icon (upper right of screen) or Ctrl 2 (forms view) 
  • - Click on the Open Form Icon 
  • - In the “Type a form name.” area type What-If (with the dash), click on the name of the worksheet - click on Open Form 
  • - You will see the worksheet on the right side of the screen; enter the information right into the form 
  • - To get back to interview mode - click on the Step-by-Step Icon (upper right of screen) or Ctrl 1


Once you have filed successfully … you can shut off the auto updater function and then save the return &  .taxfile.


It's always a good idea to make a backup copy of your tax data file, in case your original gets lost or corrupted. Here's how:

  1. From the File menu in the upper-left corner of TurboTax, choose Save As (Windows) or Save (Mac).
  2. Browse to where you want to save your backup.
    • Tip: If you're saving to a portable device, save it to your computer first to prevent data corruption. Then, after completing Step 4, copy or move the backup file to your device.
  3. In the File name field, enter a name that will distinguish it from the original tax file (for example, add "Backup" or "Copy" to the file name)
  4. Click Save and then close TurboTax.
  5. Restart TurboTax and open the backup copy to make sure it's not corrupted. If you get an error, delete the backup and repeat these steps.

If you make changes to your original tax return file, repeat these steps to ensure your original and backup copies are in-synch.

Related Information:                             


AND save it as a PDF so you have access to a copy even if you don’t have the program still installed and operational :

AND protect the files :


*** Other clues to the downloaded program ***


In the forms mode ... double click  or right click on a box on a form to data source it ... sadly it doesn't work on all boxes. 


What's the meaning of all the different colors in Forms Mode?

When you look at an onscreen tax form using Forms Mode, you might wonder why one figure is blue and the one next to it is red or black.

These colors indicate the source of that data.




You entered this data, either in the interview or Forms Mode.


The program entered this data or calculated this amount.


This data has either been overridden or is invalid (for example, a ZIP code that doesn't exist).

Red italics

You marked this amount as estimated.

Black italics

The program calculated this amount from an amount you marked as estimated.


This information has supporting details.


This data was transferred over from last year.


This data was imported from Quicken or QuickBooks.

Yellow fields (Windows)

Yellow fields allow user input. Anything you enter here shows up in blue.




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