Tax Forms Won't Be Delivered To Your Mailbox Anymore

IRS Scraps Delivery of Paper Tax Forms

Woman struggling to do her income tax return
Tax Day In America. Ida Hollis / Getty Image

They say the only things certain in life are death and taxes.

That might be true. But the way you pay your taxes is certainly changing.

Key Takeaways

  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officially stopped mailing annual tax return forms to individual taxpayers at the end of 2010.
  • The IRS estimated at the time that the change would, in fact, save taxpayers over $10 million a year in printing, postage, and processing costs.
  • Paper tax forms and instructions can still be ordered from the IRS or picked up at local IRS assistance centers or participating post offices and public libraries.
  • Electronic filing or “efiling” is now the predominant method of filing tax returns, with over 56 million taxpayers having prepared and efiled their federal tax returns since the IRS stopped mailing paper tax forms in 2011

The Internal Revenue Service announced that it will no longer mail out paper tax forms to Americans, effective 2011. The move is designed to save everyone's favorite government agency a little cash - about $10 million a year.

"With the continued growth in electronic filing and to help reduce costs, the IRS will no longer mail paper tax packages that typically arrive in January of each year," the agency said in a postcard mailed to taxpayers.

The IRS will save money by not having to print and mail the thick, 44-page packet of information, tax tables and Form 1040s.

If you don't want to file electronically, here are your options for getting paper tax forms:

  • Log onto IRS.gov, where you can download and print the latest tax forms.
  • Drop by your local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center.
  • Go to your local post office or library if they participate in the federal tax products program.
  • After Jan. 1, you can also dial the IRS toll-free hotline and ask them to mail you the paperwork. The number is (800) 829-3676.

The IRS has been encouraging taxpayers to file electronically for years.

About 96 million taxpayers filed electronically in 2010, and another 20 million submitted their forms to the IRS through professional tax preparers, according to the agency. By comparison, only about 11.5 million taxpayers who filed paper tax forms had received them in the mail.

Electronic Filing Now Dominates

Figures released by the IRS in 2019 show that the agency’s 2011 decision to “go paperless” was a wise and popular one. According to the IRS, the number of tax returns that are filed electronically—efiled—has grown every year since. By the end of May 2019, for example, more than 127,939,000 million tax returns for Tax Year 2018 had been efiled.

Taxpayers who self-prepare and efile their own tax returns have continued to grow. In 2019 (for Tax Year 2018), over 56,214,000 million taxpayers have prepared and efiled their federal tax returns themselves as of May 2019.

In addition, as of May 2019, over 86,965,000 million taxpayers had received faster federal tax refunds via direct bank deposits into bank accounts through electronic bank transfers (EBT). The average tax refund received by direct deposit was $2,868.

The option to file tax returns electronically has actually been around for 25 years. The practice of efiling began in 1986 as a small test program in 1968, when only 5 tax IRS-selected tax preparers from Cincinnati, Raleigh Durham, and Phoenix agreed to participate. Since then, efile has grown to become commonplace, serving millions of taxpayers every year.

Updated by Robert Longley