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IRS making it harder to file paper returns

The IRS has a message for folks who prefer to file the old-fashioned way: "See ya!"

Hand-filled_1040_iStock_000000429752XSmall OK, it's not filers of paper tax returns that the IRS is bidding goodbye. Those folks still can file that way if they insist.

But this year the IRS is not going out of its way to help them do so. Specifically, the IRS is no longer mailing out paper tax packages to folks who want to fill out their 1040s by hand.

The annual mailings used to contain the tax forms, schedules and instructions needed to complete them. Last year, the packet contained 44 pages.

But with the growth in electronic filing -- last year more than 70 percent of tax returns, or almost 98 million, were e-filed -- the IRS decided this year to end the paper deliveries.

Of course, the savings from not printing and mailing the documents didn't hurt. The no-mailing move will save the IRS an estimated $10 million a year.

Finding the forms: So what's a tax-filing traditionalist to do?

You can download the forms from the IRS website. A few, though, might still be unavailable. The lateness of Congressional action on some 2010 tax laws means that some documents are just now being updated.

Or if you're truly committed to old-school taxes, you can call the IRS at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676) and ask the agency to mail you the forms you need.

Some forms also will still be available at local IRS offices or at participating libraries and post offices.

E-trends continuing: This latest move by the IRS to urge even more taxpayers to go the electronic route is no surprise.

Since e-filing has become so popular, the IRS and state tax authorities have been cutting back on who receives forms and payment vouchers.

But don't despair paper lovers. I don't see the IRS dumping paper notices and post-filing correspondence about tax returns any time soon.

Tax examiners will keep printing and mailing those unwelcome announcements and inquiries until there is a safe, secure and accurate way to get them to taxpayers.

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