TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

WaPo: IRS to Stop Mailing Tax Forms

IRS Logo Washington Post, IRS to Stop Mailing Income Tax Forms:

The IRS 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, IRS said. The agency normally sends the information at the beginning of the calendar year.

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This is a discouraging development. The government has no business herding its citizens, like lemmings, into e-compliance with the tax law. According to the Washington ComPost, the IRS plans to send a mailing to all taxpayers who filed paper returns in 2009 to let them know that no paper forms will be mailed for 2010 returns. Since the IRS apparently has committed to one expensive mailing for that reason, it would make a heck of a lot more sense for the IRS to structure that mailing in such a way that citizens who prefer to file on paper can let the agency know that, perhaps with a return postcard. Null responses would mean the citizens in question do not need paper tax forms and instructions (or are indifferent), and thus the IRS could expect electronic return filings from these citizens. On the other hand, those citizens who value the right to file a paper tax return would be heard, and the IRS, as a service-oriented agency, could meet that demand as it is voiced and provide a paper mailing. Citizens in a democracy are entitled to no less.

Posted by: Jake | Sep 28, 2010 7:53:28 PM

I will not be surprised to see the IRS reverse itself if there is pushback from certain groups such as AARP. Imagine the elderly retirees living in Ruralville who don't even know what a computer looks like. For such folk, it is still a paper and stamps world. The savings (if real) are rounding error in an agency with such a large budget. And what of the poor old US Postal Service? Scrounging for nickles and dimes and here a knife in the back from another arm of the government.

Posted by: Don | Sep 29, 2010 1:27:25 AM

Finally!!! Its not like the paper forms won't still be available in every post office and library across the country. Besides with all of the rural internet money subsidies, there shouldn't be a single person in America who can't print the paper forms off of their computers. And for the 12 elderly people in the country who have no family or friends to help them, just forget paying taxes, its not like their $38.45 tax liability is going to break the bank.

Posted by: Reputo | Sep 29, 2010 6:36:52 AM

I have some clients who don't trust computers or the government. Law or no law about e-filing, their returns are going to be on paper. And, they barely trust the post office to deliver those on time.

Posted by: Woody | Sep 29, 2010 8:08:54 AM