How to Get Free Printable Tax Forms Online

By Michael Marz

Whether you prefer to file your taxes on paper, need to file a form that can’t be e-filed or have to file a return from a prior year, the Internal Revenue Service has free printable tax forms available online. The agency provides a searchable database where you can obtain forms, instructions and even official publications that offer in-depth explanations on various tax topics.

Searching for Printable Tax Forms Online

Navigate to the Forms & Publications section of the IRS website. If the form you need isn’t listed under the Featured Forms & Publications heading, click the Find All Current Forms & Pubs button. You can search by a form’s number, its title or revision date. If you need a current Schedule C, for example, select the Product Number parameter and type Schedule C into the search field. The forms you obtain from the IRS allow you to type data into them and can be saved to your computer or other device before printing -- all free of charge.

Finding the Instructions and Publications

Instructions to each form will show up in the results when searching for a particular form. Therefore, if you’re searching for the 1040, the instructions for the form also will appear in your search results. If you need more guidance on a tax issue than the instructions to your tax form provide, you also can search for official IRS publications in the same way you search for forms.

Prior Year Tax Forms and Instructions

Tax forms and instructions for prior years have to be filed on paper and mailed to the IRS. By clicking on the Prior Year tab on the Forms & Publications section of the IRS website, you can search through all forms and instructions from past years. When searching, pay attention to the Revision Date column to ensure it matches the tax year you’re looking for.

Tax Forms That Must Be Filed on Paper

For certain tax filings, accessing the free printable forms online may be your only option. This includes Form 1040X, which is used to amend an already filed return, taxes for the prior year which you haven’t filed by Oct. 15, -- the last day you can e-file a return for the prior tax year -- returns from older tax years, and all returns filed by taxpayers who live abroad.

Free Printable State Tax Forms

If you live in a state that imposes income taxes, you may need to file a state return as well. State tax agencies also offer free printable tax forms. However, since each state’s website is different, some are more user-friendly than others when it comes to searching for the tax forms you need.

About the Author

Michael Marz has worked in the financial sector since 2002, specializing in wealth and estate planning. After spending six years working for a large investment bank and an accounting firm, Marz is now self-employed as a consultant, focusing on complex estate and gift tax compliance and planning.

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