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Published:   |   Last Updated: February 8, 2024

TAS Tax Tip: The IRS Launches Paperless Processing Initiative

paperless processing initiative

The IRS announced that taxpayers will have the option to go paperless for IRS correspondence by the 2024 filing season, with additional digital enhancements by the 2025 filing season. The IRS Paperless Processing Initiative will eliminate up to 200 million pieces of paper annually, cut processing times in half, and expedite refunds by several weeks. Please note that the IRS cannot release refunds claiming Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit until mid-February; paperless processing does not impact this requirement.  

Paper processing by the IRS has been a source of frustration for many taxpayers who would like to be able to send correspondence to the IRS digitally. Others have been unable to submit tax forms electronically. Paper-filed tax returns have to be manually entered, one digit at a time, creating significant delays for taxpayers and challenges for IRS staff. We are pleased to share some enhancements that will alleviate many of these issues.  

Enhancements for the 2024 filing season:  

  • You will be able to digitally submit all correspondence, non-tax forms, and responses to notices.  
  • The IRS estimates more than 94% of individual taxpayers will no longer need to send mail to the IRS. Up to 125 million documents per year that would otherwise have to be submitted by mail can be submitted digitally.  
  • Non-tax forms include requests on a range of topics, including identity theft and proof that you are eligible for key credits and deductions to help low-income households.  
  • Although you may continue to submit paper returns and correspondence, TAS encourages you to submit documents digitally for prompt service.  
  • You will be able to electronically file (e-File) 20 additional tax forms.  
  • The IRS estimates up to 4 million additional tax documents will be eligible for e-File every year, including amended Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Returns and Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment Tax Returns, some of the most commonly filed amended tax returns. 
  • At least 20 of the most used non-tax forms will be available in digital, mobile friendly formats, making them easier for you to complete and submit.  
  • This includes Form 911, Request for Taxpayer Advocate Service Assistance (And Application for Taxpayer Assistance Order), making it easier for you to get help from TAS with unresolved tax issues.   

Enhancements for the 2025 and 2026 filing seasons: 

  • By the 2025 filing season, an additional 150 of the most used non-tax forms will be available in digital, mobile friendly formats.  An estimated 15 percent of Americans rely solely on mobile phones for internet access, and making forms available in mobile-friendly formats is key to serving these taxpayers.  
  • IRS will digitally process all paper-filed tax and information returns, which will enable up to 76 million paper documents to be processed digitally every year, improving service, cutting processing times in half, and expediting taxpayer refunds by several weeks.  
  • The IRS estimates that half of paper-submitted correspondence, non-tax forms, and notice responses will be processed digitally. This will enable up to 60 million paper documents to be processed digitally every year.  
  • Up to 1 billion historical documents will be digitized, improving customer service, giving taxpayers access to their data, and ultimately saving the IRS approximately $40 million in annual storage costs.  
  • All paper documents — correspondence, non-tax forms, and notice responses — will be processed digitally by the 2026 filing season.  

Paperless Processing is the key to unlocking service improvements 

  • Digitizing paper returns will eliminate errors that result from manually inputting data from paper returns, speed up processing, reduce storage costs, and allow the IRS to focus more resources on customer service.  
  • Once paper returns are digitized, extracting the data will enable IRS customer service employees to more quickly and accurately answer taxpayer questions and resolve issues by providing rapid access to paper-filed returns and correspondence.  
  • Digitization and data extraction will enable data scientists to implement advanced analytics and pattern recognition methods to pursue cases that can help address the accuracy of tax returns, including wealthy individuals and large corporations using complex structures to evade taxes they owe.