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Finding federal tax forms

While you're gathering up the records you'll need to file your taxes, it's also a good time to start tracking down the necessary filing paperwork.

Often when you start doing your taxes, you discover you need another form to complete the job. By getting the forms you expect to use -- the ones you used last year are a good starting point -- and doing a rough tax run-through, you'll know if you're missing any.

If you use a computer tax program you should be covered. Most updated 2003 tax software should be available (or at least can be ordered) by now. You can plug the new program into your PC and import any of last year's tax data that's still applicable.

But even taxpayers who've yet to commit to computer can still get a tax preview. There are several ways to get tax forms, instructions and publications -- free and easy.

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  • You can download some commonly used forms directly from Bankrate.com's tax forms library. If you need some more specialized forms, check out the Internal Revenue Service's tax forms Web page. In addition to letting you download the documents you need, at the IRS site you also can review forms, instructions and explanatory publications while online or even fill in your information on selected forms before you print them out.

  • You can have them faxed via IRS TaxFax by calling 703-368-9694 from a fax machine. Note that this is not a toll-free number, so if you don't live in the 703 area code and need lots of forms, the costs will show up on your phone bill.

  • You can have them mailed to you. This is freebie: call the IRS' forms distribution center toll-free at 800-829-3676.

  • You can pick them up at many local libraries and post offices. The only drawback here is that some of these public distribution areas carry only the basic forms, and they may run out of those documents as the tax season progresses.

  • You can also get them at any IRS office. Check out the IRS Web site to find the location of the IRS office closest to you.

-- Updated: Dec. 16, 2003

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See Also
Preparing for Tax Season Home
Getting organized
Choosing how to file
Picking a tax pro
Tax season can be scam season
Tax recordkeeping made easy
More tax stories
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