IRS office

A sign at Missoula's Internal Revenue Service taxpayer assistance office says it is "going green" to reduce paperwork.

DAVID ERICKSON, Misoulian

At Missoula's Internal Revenue Service taxpayer assistance office, rows of empty shelves that previously held free forms available to the public now are empty.

In place of the paperwork are bright pink signs that say “The IRS is going green – Taxpayer Assistance Centers are reducing the amount of paper products that are stocked in our office.”

The signs say all IRS forms can be downloaded from the IRS.gov website, but one local bookkeeper claims that is not the case.

Rose Davis says that the 1099-MISC Copy A form, which is used for reporting miscellaneous income to the federal government, cannot be printed from the online version. Instead, she was shocked recently to find out that her only option is to order copies to be mailed to her, which takes seven to 15 days.

“I’m an independent bookkeeper in this town,” she said. “I hit the ground running last Friday to get my year-end work done. And I went to the local office to get the 1099-MISC forms like I always do for all my clients. They have a wall lined with shelves, and they are all empty. Not a single thing was sitting out. And I read the piece of paper, and it says they are going green and inviting people to get on the IRS website.”

However, she found that the IRS website specifically states “do not print and file Copy A downloaded from this website; a penalty may be imposed for filing with the IRS information return forms that can’t be scanned.”

“I just damn near died,” Davis said. “I ordered the 50 forms that I needed, and I see a little notice pop up that says it is going to take seven to 15 days. I know there are a lot of people in this town that wait until April to visit that office to get tax forms. They are going to be stunned to find none available. For me it was just horrifying. I have a personal contest every year, and last year I got people done by January. I was going to be done by last Friday. But now I’ve kind of hit the windshield. I can’t finish up my clients. So boo-hoo for me.”

Form 1099-MISC is used to report income earned by independent contractors, fees, royalties, commissions, prizes, and some other payments. Copy A is submitted to the IRS by the person or company making the payments; it is red.

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The local IRS taxpayer assistance office has a recorded voicemail message stating it doesn't offer telephone assistance to answer questions. No representatives were available for comment at the office, 2681 Palmer St., during a visit last week.

Davis said she is reluctant to order the forms online.

“Years ago when I ordered them online, they sent me the wrong form,” she said. “It’s just shocking. I feel like I’m in a hostage situation. The 1099 is five pages, and they give you a sample online, but you can’t print off it. I have Quickbooks, and some forms are available on that, but 1099s are not available on Quickbooks. The form is provided for informational purposes only.”

The IRS website states, “To order official IRS information returns, which include a scannable Copy A for filing with the IRS and all other applicable copies of the form, visit www.IRS.gov/orderforms. Click on Employer and Information Returns, and we’ll mail you the forms you request and their instructions, as well as any publications you may order.”

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