When should you avoid using the Data Retrieval Tool (DRT)?

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) is designed to make it easier to transfer your U.S. tax returns to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), but are there some cases when you should avoid using the DRT? 

Let’s take a look.

What is the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT)? 

Basically, the IRS DRT takes the information from your IRS tax return and transfers it directly to your FAFSA® application. While it is not required that you use the DRT, some people find it easier to use than manually filling out the information. 

You are ineligible to use the IRS DRT if:

  • You or your parent’s spouse filed as Married Filing Separately
  • You or your parent’s spouse filed as Head of Household
  • Your parents’ marital status is “Unmarried and both legal parents living together”
  • You or your parent filed a Puerto Rican, foreign tax return, or an unusual tax form
  • You or your parent filed electronically within the last three weeks or in the mail in the last 11 weeks

If you file your FAFSA® with FRANK, there is no need to use the Data Retrieval Tool, as we handle the information ourselves. 

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However, there are some other cases where you may want to avoid using the DRT. 

If You or Your Parent Have an Amended Tax Return

If you amended your 1040X tax return, you will likely not be able to file using the DRT. There is a high probability that it will not import the right information, and you will need to enter it manually. 

If You or Your Parent Rolled Over an IRA

If you rolled over an IRA in the tax year required for FAFSA®, it’s usually best to manually fill out the form.

There is the chance that your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) could be inflated and reduce the amount of aid you receive due to issues with the tool that makes it see your IRA as income. 

If You Want to Potentially Avoid the Verification Process

Using the DRT increases the chance that you will need to go through the FAFSA® verification process. Verification is when you are required to submit additional documentation to confirm that the information

 you provided on your application is accurate. 

While verification is randomly selected, those who use the DRT get selected more often because it is not manually entered. 

You Might Need to Make Changes

The DRT can help you answer the complicated tax questions, but it leaves little room for adjustments. Unlike when you fill out the form manually, you can’t change the information the DRT pulls from your tax filing. 

For those who might have adjustments, or where the tool just doesn’t get it right, this can lead to a lengthier FAFSA® process requiring additional paperwork and even verification. 

While the DRT can make things easier for many people, it also has its downsides like most technology tools.