Department of Revenue no longer printing tax booklets

By: 
Charlie Denison
Reporter

Lewistown Public Library Public Services and Circulation Manager Kari Denison helps a library patron file her taxes Tuesday morning. 

Photo by Charlie Denison

Read my lips: no more tax booklets.

That’s the word from the Montana Department of Revenue.

“To save taxpayer dollars, the Department of Revenue no longer prints and mails tax booklets and forms,” the DOR wrote in a mail-out that went all over the state this month.

Those depending on printed or mailed tax booklets are now encouraged to file their taxes electronically.

“You can find e-file options, forms and instructions at revenue.mt.gov,” the mail out says.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to most Montana taxpayers. According to DOR Public Information Officer Mary Ann Dunwell, 87 percent of Montana taxpayers filed their state income taxes electronically last year, despite the DOR printing approximately 58,000 tax booklets, costing approximately $60,000 per year.

“Our decision is economically driven,” Dunwell said. “We want to provide maximum service but also minimize cost.”

Any savings are beneficial right now, Dunwell added, as the state department is “making serious budget cuts.”

“Our department is closing several locations,” she said. “Some of my colleagues are losing their jobs.”

This is a difficult time for the DOR, Dunwell said, so they are making cuts where they can, and the booklets seemed like a good place to start, as Dunwell said a fair number of the booklets printed were not used.

“Many people would get the booklets, follow the instructions and file online,” she said. “Now they can read those instructions on www.revenue.mt.gov and file their taxes on the site through e-file program.”

Nevertheless, Dunwell said she knows there are people who prefer not to file online.

“We still need to serve the 13 percent who use the booklets,” she said. “It’s not easy for some people to get online, and we want those people to have a convenient way to file. If you really want a tax booklet, call us and speak to one of our customer service representatives. We’ll get you a booklet.”

 

Getting the word out

Although the DOR sent out postcards, not everyone who used a booklet last year is aware that booklets aren’t available. Kari Denison, Lewistown Public Library Public Services and Circulation Manager, said she’s already had a few complaints from patrons that the books are no longer available at the library.

“We’ve had a few folks come in to get their booklets that are frustrated with the new process,” she said.

Dunwell encourages library staff statewide to inform those looking for booklets to file electronically through the DOR website or call the DOR at (406) 444-6900 and have them send a booklet.

Whether filing online or requesting a booklet, Dunwell reminds Montana taxpayers that tax season is fast approaching.

“We are accepting tax returns starting Jan. 29,” she said, adding that it’s best to get taxes in sooner rather than later. “There are a lot of benefits to getting your taxes done early: for example, you’ll get your refund quicker and you’ll reduce your risk of identity theft or tax fraud.”

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