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Latest IRS budget cut consequence: paper forms are hard to find

As we have discussed a couple of times in this blog, the IRS is dealing with significant budget cuts this year that have forced it to significantly shrink its workforce. Among other things, this will probably result in taxpayers receiving less reliable customer service when they have questions about their returns.

Another change in IRS policy could affect those taxpayers who still prefer to file their returns with pen and paper. The agency has sharply reduced the number of printed forms it has traditionally made available for pickup at libraries and other locations. This year, the IRS is encouraging taxpayers to download the forms from its website, or file electronically.

Many taxpayers made the switch years ago. But other people, particularly older people with limited technological ability, may struggle to pay their taxes if they cannot find paper copies of the forms they need.

In one library, a manager said, many senior citizens have expressed frustration when told they cannot get their income tax forms. The manager said many people have responded, “I guess they don’t want my taxes.”

Meanwhile, as we reported before, IRS customer service may be as bad as it has ever been. A taxpayer advocate testified to Congress in January that most calls to the IRS go unanswered. Callers lucky enough to get through typically wait on hold for more than half an hour. Once someone from the IRS finally gets to a determined taxpayer’s call, they are allowed only to answer “basic” questions in order to shorten call times, according to the advocate.

Budget cuts may make filing your taxes more difficult this year. Hopefully, the filing will still go smoothly, and not lead to an audit somewhere down the line. If it does, you may need an attorney to help you get through it.

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