IRS decision not to mail forms dismays Mainers who file paper

Due to many people downloading their tax forms, the IRS is no longer mailing printed income tax booklets. Photo taken on Friday, January 28, 2011.
Kate Colins
Due to many people downloading their tax forms, the IRS is no longer mailing printed income tax booklets. Photo taken on Friday, January 28, 2011.
By Diana Bowley, BDN Staff
Posted Jan. 30, 2011, at 7:48 p.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Some Maine residents who typically file their federal income tax returns by mail apparently overlooked an October postcard advising them that the IRS no longer would send its printed forms unless specifically requested.

“We’re hearing some concerns about not getting forms,” Peggy Riley, IRS spokeswoman, confirmed Friday. Some of those calls are from residents who rely on the printed forms, because they have no computers to file electronically. She cautioned those residents that they still must file their returns even though they didn’t get the routine packet by mail.

Riley said everyone who filed a paper return last year would have received a postcard automatically telling them that the federal government was no longer mailing out the income tax booklets. That postcard also gave residents information about ordering a printed booklet if they needed one.

“About 70 percent of people nationwide now file electronically; we’re just not seeing the need anymore” for paper documents, Riley said. The move, which will continue in future years, saved taxpayers $8 million in printing and mailing costs this year, she said.

Unlike the IRS, Maine Revenue Services mailed out income tax forms despite an increase in e-filers, according to Jerome Gerard, acting director of Maine Revenue Services. He said Friday that 64 percent of the individual income tax filers filed electronically and the remainder wanted paper. There is a check-off box on the in-come tax form that residents should mark if they no longer want a paper return, he said.

While the state is still printing its tax forms, public librarians have been told they would no longer receive the forms to aid local residents, according to Helen Fogler of the Thompson Free Library. Fogler said in past years, the library would order copies of the instructions and forms for local residents to use.

“Since the first of the year, we probably have gotten two to five calls a day, and we probably get one to three people who come in every day looking for the forms,” Fogler said recently. The library is helping those customers, most of whom do not own a computer, by downloading the easy and the long forms even though that comes at an added cost to the library, she said. A shared instruction booklet is available for use at the library and a small fee is charged for extra copies.

Linda Morrill, library director in Lincoln, said residents inquiring about the Maine tax forms at her facility receive a printed handout with the telephone number of the Maine Revenue Services and the department’s website. She also has advertised that the library no longer has copies of the printed forms.

“People aren’t happy that the forms are not available anymore,” Morrill said. “A lot of people here do not have access to computers. It’s a hardship for certain residents, and for many it’s a toll call to reach the state.”

Gerard said that if residents need extra forms, they should contact the state at 624-7894. He said the state’s approach is to provide a variety of electronic services in hopes that more Maine taxpayers would file electronically. He called it “risky” however to stop sending out the paper forms as the federal government and some states have done.

Riley said that if anyone needs the federal return forms, they can call 800-829-3676 and the forms will be mailed to them. Or residents can visit one of the volunteer sites across the state where IRS-trained volunteers will assist in filing the tax returns electronically. To find a volunteer site, call 211.

CORRECTION:

This article has been updated to correct the number to call if you need paper forms.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/01/30/news/irs-decision-not-to-mail-forms-dismays-mainers-who-file-paper/ printed on July 22, 2014