(HELENA) Some Montanans may notice a big change when filing their state income taxes this year. The state Department of Revenue has decided to stop printing paper copies of its income tax forms and filing instructions.
In the past, the agency has printed about 58,000 tax brochures each year. Those copies were then distributed around the state, including at more than two dozen public libraries.
But Revenue Department director Mike Kadas said state budget cuts made it impossible to continue that service. State leaders had to make wide-ranging spending cuts to close a $227 million budget gap, after a historic fire season and lower-than-expected tax revenues. Kadas said Revenue lost about 8 percent of its planned budget for the 2018 fiscal year.
“It is not a choice we really wanted to make, but as we looked at the totality of our budget and the kind of things we could cut, this was one of the things that rose to the top,” he said.
Revenue will save about $60,000 a year by not printing the usual copies of the tax brochures.
Despite the change, Montanans will still have a number of alternatives when they file their tax returns this year.
“This is a place where there are other ways for folks to get those forms,” said Kadas.
One option is to file electronically. Kadas said about 85 percent of Montana taxpayers are already filing their income taxes digitally.
This year, the Revenue Department has joined the Free File Alliance, a national effort led by the IRS that offers a variety of free options for people who want to file online. The agency plans to launch a new website on Jan. 16, with links to all the filing services available to Montanans.
If you still prefer to use a paper form, you will need to print one off yourself, whether from home or at a library or other public computer. Revenue’s website includes the MyRevenue tool, which includes links to every form and questionnaires to help taxpayers determine which one they should use.
The department also has a call center, with staff who can help taxpayers figure out the best filing option for them. You can reach the call center at (406) 444-6900, Monday through Friday during business hours.
“We will do our best to help them file their taxes accurately and on time,” Kadas said. “We think that, with some help, we can accomplish that for everyone.”