Obtaining IRS Forms and Publications

Learn all the ways you can obtain IRS forms and taxpayer publications.

There are various ways to obtain IRS forms and publications. Depending on your circumstances you may find one method faster or more convenient than another. Here's a rundown on what to get and where to get it.

What to get

Sometimes the instructions for an IRS form are printed on the same sheet as the form. In many cases the instructions are separate. Be sure to get the instructions when you get the form. Even if you don't need forms, you may find it helpful to get instructions. For example, you may need to understand why the tax software is making certain entries on a tax form. And while you're at it, think about whether you need an IRS publication, too. The publications are free and often provide additional information that doesn't appear in the instructions.

Printouts and copies

Most IRS forms can be filed on photocopies or computer printouts. For these items you don't need a form that's printed by the IRS. There are a few exceptions because of the way the IRS uses computers to process the forms. These exceptions generally come with a prominent instruction that you must file an original form.

On the Internet

The IRS offers a way for you to download forms and publications from their web site. They don't make it as easy as it should be, though. We offer a better way in Fairmark's Fast Form Finder. But here's a link if you prefer to visit the Forms and Publications page on the IRS web site.

Pick them up

A limited selection of IRS forms can be found during tax season at many banks and post offices. You can also pick up forms at many libraries, where you may find a wider selection either in a looseleaf binder (use the photocopier) or on a CD-ROM (read them at a computer and print the ones you need). And of course you can pick up forms and publications at a local IRS office.

Pick up the phone

If you don't need the forms or publications immediately, you can call the IRS and request that they mail these items to you. There's no charge for this service. You'll receive the requested items in about three months. (Just kidding, we hope. IRS says within 10 days.) Call 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676) during regular business hours.

The IRS used to provide a way to obtain forms on your fax machine but the service appears to have been discontinued.

By mail

It's hard to imagine you'd want to do this, but the IRS says you can write to them requesting forms, at the following address, which we did not make up:

Internal Revenue Service
1201 N. Mitsubishi Motorway
Bloomington, IL 61705-6613