Starting next year, most US taxpayers will be able to file their taxes completely paperless with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The move will precede the agency’s initiative of getting to total paperless processing by the 2025 tax season, saving 200 million sheets of paper annually and cutting tax processing times in half.
This isn’t some IRS tax preparation service that kicks services like TurboTax from your life — although the agency plans to test its own free tax prep service for some taxpayers next year. However, taxpayers can switch to paperless filings in 2024, which could speed up their refund time by “several weeks.”
Digital filings can reduce headaches for taxpayers and IRS staff since correspondence like document verification won’t need to go through snail mail. The agency already allows taxpayers to submit their 1040 online, but many other paper-only documents will start to go digital in 2024, with even more coming in 2025.
The IRS will also design forms to better conform to smaller screens as many now rely on smartphones for all their computing needs. The IRS estimates that over 94 percent of individual taxpayers will never have to mail any paper again. And by 2025, all mail-in filings to the IRS will be converted to digital form and processed digitally.
According to the IRS, the agency gets about 76 million paper tax returns and forms and another 125 million other pieces sent via conventional mail every year. The agency also spends over $40 million a year to store over a billion archived paper documents and is planning to reduce costs by scanning everything.
The Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act is helping fund the technology needed to automatically scan millions of papers and provide the online services taxpayers can use to respond to notices and more.
By the 2026 filing season, the IRS will also process non-tax forms, documents, and other correspondence using paperless methods.