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Paper tax forms getting harder to find

February 05, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

With more people using electronic options for filing their federal taxes, paper documents are starting to become a thing of the past, according to an official with the Internal Revenue Service.

In the not-too-distant past, federal income tax forms were mailed to taxpayers. Then, when the mailings stopped, they were available at post offices, libraries and county courthouses.

But increased usage of online tax-preparation software has changed the way people file their taxes, IRS spokeswoman Peggy Riley said.

“When more and more people are using electronic filing, you don’t need to have that paper tax document anymore,” Riley said. “Some of the libraries and post offices were finding that they ended up throwing (the forms) away because people weren’t really using them, so they no longer participate in the program.”

Several post offices in the Hagerstown, Funkstown and Smithsburg areas reported that they had no tax forms in stock this week.

“I haven’t had them for three or four years,” Franklin County (Pa.) Clerk of Courts William Vandrew said of IRS tax forms. “I just didn’t have the business for them.”

Vandrew made the forms available for years, but the demand steadily declined, even from the IRS itself, he said.

“I don’t even get a notice from the IRS that it’s time to reorder,” Vandrew said.

Forms are still available at the Washington County Free Library, and the Grove Family Library east of Chambersburg, Pa., still carries them, a staff member said.

Wesley Varney, an assistant tax professional at H&R Block in Foxshire Plaza on Dual Highway, said more people use e-filing because it’s quicker and because most software applications can double-check for errors on returns.

H&R Block e-files returns for its customers, Varney said.

Starting Tuesday, a free tax preparation assistance program will be available through the Washington County Commission on Aging for those ages 55 and older, according to Hannah Cramer, deputy director of the commission on aging, at 140 W. Franklin St. in Hagerstown.

Senior citizens who make less than $50,000 a year can get their taxes done by IRS-certified volunteers by calling the office at 301-790-0275 and setting up an appointment, Cramer said. She said that service is available between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday until April 17.

“We know that there’s such a need for people that have such little income, maybe just Social Security,” Cramer said. “In most cases, a lot of folks aren’t even required to file. We get probably 50 calls a year from people that say they don’t know if they have to file.”

People who would prefer to file their taxes on paper can pick them up at the IRS office at 1260 Maryland Ave., Riley said. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but closes from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. for lunch.

Paper forms can be ordered through the IRS by calling 1-800-829-3676 or be downloaded from the IRS website, www.irs.gov.

Some post offices and libraries still stock paper forms that can be copied for people seeking hard copies, Riley said.

State return documents also are available at the IRS office on Maryland Avenue, as well as at the Assessments & Taxation Department office at 5 Public Square, Hagerstown.

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— Staff writer Don Aines contributed to this story.

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