To cut costs, IRS plans to stop mailing paper tax return forms

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By Ed O'Keefe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Internal Revenue Service plans to stop mailing instructions and paper forms for annual income tax returns, saving the agency about $10 million a year as more Americans are filing online.

About 11.5 million people who filed paper tax returns in 2009 received the tax information in the mail, the IRS said. The agency normally sends the information at the beginning of the calendar year. The mailing includes the Form 1040 and instructions that totaled 44 pages last year.

More than 96 million individuals have filed their tax returns this year via IRS e-File (up about 6 million from 2008) and an estimated 20 million paper returns were filed through paid tax preparers, according to the agency.

The IRS plans to mail information about the decision in the coming weeks to taxpayers who filed paper forms last year. Taxpayers who want to file paper returns can still obtain the forms at IRS.gov, local IRS offices or at participating libraries and post offices.

The annual savings will be in printing and postage costs, the IRS said. The agency uses the Government Printing Office to print the materials, which in turn hires private printers to do some of the work. The GPO would not comment on the decision.

The federal government continues to curtail its use of "snail mail" to save on paper, postage and printing costs. The Treasury Department announced plans in June to start making most government benefits payments through direct deposit by 2013 as part of the Obama administration's government efficiency reforms.

The Postal Service would not comment Monday on the potential financial impact of fewer IRS mailings.


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