Submitted: The Two Sides Team October 5, 2015
PAPER Act Would Ensure Automatic Delivery of Paper Tax Return Forms & Instructions to Americans who Don’t e-File
WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 1, 2015) – Consumers for Paper Options, a coalition of individuals and organizations advocating to preserve access to paper-based services and information, today applauded the introduction of legislation that would partially reinstate the mailing of paper-based tax resources. The Personal Access to Paper Election Reform (PAPER) Act, which was introduced today by Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.), amends the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mail paper forms and instructions to individuals who filed a paper return for the preceding tax year.
“The short-sighted IRS decision to stop mailing tax forms, even to citizens who still file by mail, has hurt millions of Americans, especially seniors and those living with disabilities,” said John Runyan, executive director of Consumers for Paper Options. “We hear from people across the country who simply don’t have the option to file tax returns online and have difficulty accessing the paper forms that are supposedly available at post offices and libraries. It’s time to amend the Internal Revenue Code to reflect this reality and make paper-based tax information automatically available to those who still need it.”
In an effort to cut costs and encourage the shift towards electronic tax filing, the IRS ended the mailing of paper tax forms in 2011 – even for the more than 10 million citizens who still file by mail. While the IRS has said that the tax forms are available at post offices and public libraries, this is not necessarily true and can cause frustration for taxpayers who make unsuccessful trips to these facilities in search of these documents. The paperless policy also makes it difficult for citizens in rural areas who have no access to the Internet and are miles from nearby post offices and libraries, as well as seniors and Americans with disabilities who may have difficulty leaving their homes.
Runyan continued, “The tax form issue is a perfect example of a short-sighted government decision that disadvantages vast numbers of Americans. Research by the Pew Research Center and the Department of Commerce show that 41 percent of Americans over 65 years of age do not use the Internet, and nearly half of minority American households lack regular Internet access. We should promote online services without discriminating against citizens who need traditional access, and the PAPER Act represents a significant step in the effort to do that.”
About Consumers for Paper Options
Consumers for Paper Options brings together industry, non-profits and consumers in an effort to address the transition to Internet-only resources at the exclusion of millions of citizens. Consumers for Paper Options is united in the belief that paper-based communications are critically important for millions of Americans, especially seniors and the 25 percent of households without Internet access. While regulated entities and governments at every level need to streamline services, cut costs and improve efficiencies, the goal of Consumers for Paper Options is to preserve access in a way that neither hinders the natural evolution of technology nor discriminates against those who may not, or cannot, use it. For more information, visit www.paperoptions.org.