Thursday, February 16, 2006

Swimming Against the Tide

Tax time. We are hearing about more and more libraries who are no longer being sent paper forms to distribute, or couldn't get as many as they got in the past; the Post Office at this moment does (or does not) have the commonest forms (it keeps changing). The IRS office, where you can in fact get paper forms, has moved twice and is now as far south as it can be and still be in Santa Fe. (Here's a map link for locating the IRS office, or see Where to Find Federal and State Tax Forms).

What's going on? They're apparently making the paper forms harder to find on purpose. In 1998, in the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act, Congress called for 80 percent of all tax and information returns to be filed electronically by 2007. "TITLE II--ELECTRONIC FILING SEC. 2001. ELECTRONIC FILING OF TAX AND INFORMATION RETURNS. (a) IN GENERAL- It is the policy of Congress that-- (1) paperless filing should be the preferred and most convenient means of filing Federal tax and information returns; (2) it should be the goal of the Internal Revenue Service to have at least 80 percent of all such returns filed electronically by the year 2007."

By October 2003 about 40% of 1040-filing taxpayers were filing electronically from their home computers or through tax preparers. According to an article in Government Computer News, by April 2005, for tax year 2004, the proportion was up to 60%. To get this article from the Gale database, call the library for the password. Those of us who want to continue to file on paper, or are a-technological, are swimming against the tide.

Last year e-filing was free for anyone going through the IRS' online free filing page, even though the page leads you to commercial services. This year it remains free for anyone with less than $50,000 adjusted gross income; above that level, one will have to pay the fee of whichever service they use (or buy a suitable program for their home PC.)

We have a lot of tax links on our Government Information page. We have State forms, and the Federal reproducibles (xerox master copies). You can print them off the web (see the tax links). If you are a senior, or are an individual or family with income under $37,000, Tax Help New Mexico can help you file.

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