1.17.3  Tax Products Program

Manual Transmittal

November 16, 2012


(1) This transmits revised IRM 1.17.3, Publishing - Tax Products Program.

Material Changes

(1) This IRM has been reorganized to combine related subsections and group similar topics in new subsections, and to clarify guidance and improve reading flow.

(2) The following subsections have been removed:

  • IRM, Tax Packages

  • IRM, Tax Professionals

  • IRM, Payments and Witholding

  • IRM, FAX

  • IRM, Tax Products Coordinating Committee

  • IRM, Program Planning Sessions

  • IRM, Delays

  • IRM, Tax Package Mailout Coordinators

(3) The following subsections have been revised to clarify program responsibilities (some subsection titles also changed):

  • IRM, Overview

  • IRM, Tax Products Publishing Programs – added list of tax products (Tax Forms and Instructions, Taxpayer Information Publications (TIPS), Tax Payment Voucher Mail Outs

  • IRM, Tax Forms and Instructions – defined tax forms and instructions and added requirement to obtain a valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) number before tax forms are published and/or printed

  • IRM, Taxpayer Information Publications (TIPS) – added Publication 225 as an example of the TIPs

  • IRM, Availability of Tax Products and Services

  • IRM, Electronic Availability via www.irs.gov

  • IRM, Electronic Availability via DVD

  • IRM, Ordering Availability via Mail

  • IRM, Ordering Availability via Telephone

  • IRM, Walk-in Availability for Tax Products and Services

  • IRM, Walk-in Availability via Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) Program

  • IRM, Walk-in Availability via Community-Based Outlet Program (CBOP)

  • IRM, Walk-in Availability via Tax Forms Outlet Program (TFOP)

  • IRM, Walk-in Availability via Non-IRS Taxpayer Assistance Outlets

  • IRM, Walk-in Availability via the International Program

  • IRM, Walk-in Availability via Paid Return Preparers

  • IRM, Tax Products Development Responsibilities Within M&P

  • IRM, Tax Forms and Publications (TF&P) Responsibilities

  • IRM, Publishing Responsibilities

  • IRM, Distribution Responsibilities

  • IRM, National Distribution Center (NDC) Responsibilities

  • IRM, Tax Products Workflow

  • IRM, Quality Control

  • IRM, Quality Control Planning and Review

  • IRM, On-Site Quality Control Planning and Review

  • IRM, Off-Site Quality and Quantity Assurance

(4) The following subsections have been added to describe new program responsibilities:

  • IRM, Tax Payment Voucher Mail Outs

  • IRM, Electronic Availability via E-file

  • IRM, Electronic Availability via the Core Repository of Published Products (CROPP)

  • IRM, Walk-in Availability via Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program

  • IRM, Walk-in Availability via Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Program

  • IRM, Post of Duty (POD)

(5) Editorial changes have been made throughout the IRM; this includes subsection title changes.

Effect on Other Documents

IRM 1.17.3, dated 12-01-2006, is superseded.


All IRS employees, contractors, and vendors who publish, distribute, or design printed and/or electronic internal/external material.

Effective Date


Melvin T.E. Hardy
Acting Director, Publishing
Wage and Investment Division  (11-16-2012)

  1. This section covers the publishing programs for IRS tax products that provide informational, promotional, and instructional materials to businesses and individuals. Taxpayers use these materials for return submissions, taxpayer education and assistance, and tax payments and withholdings. Each tax product the IRS creates results from new or revised legislation, regulations, or rulings; court decisions; or suggestions from IRS employees or the taxpaying public. Publishing alone has the authority to publish tax products to IRS.gov and the Core Repository of Published Products (CROPP). See IRM, Request Publishing Services, and to procure printed tax products refer to IRM 1.17.1, Overview of Publishing Authorities, Roles and Responsibilities, and Organizational Structure.  (11-16-2012)
Tax Products Publishing Programs

  1. The IRS produces tax products in the following publishing programs:

    • Tax Forms and Instructions

    • Taxpayer Information Publications (TIPS)

    • Tax Payment Voucher Mail Outs  (11-16-2012)
Tax Forms and Instructions

  1. Tax forms and instructions are produced by the IRS to assist the public with understanding and submitting tax information. All taxpayers use tax forms to submit tax returns. The forms usually include the instructions for general guidance; however, instructions are occasionally furnished separately. Tax products are categorized by customer group, including Individual and Proprietor (Form 1040 series), Partnership (Form 1065 series), Corporation (Form 1120 series), Exempt Organizations (Form 990 series), Employers (Form 940/941 series), and other support and supplemental forms and instructions. Tax forms and instructions are available in print and electronic formats.

  2. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Numbers - All tax forms must have a valid OMB number before being published or printed. For a list of valid OMB numbers assigned to Forms: visit http://taxforms.web.irs.gov/OMB/omb_numbers.aspx.  (11-16-2012)
Taxpayer Information Publications (TIPS)

  1. The TIPS program provides taxpayers with detailed information on key topics that assist with preparation of their tax return. TIPS are designed to supplement forms and instructions by answering typical tax questions and providing helpful examples for a particular topic. We provide TIPS in print or electronic formats. An example of a TIP is Pub 225, Farmer’s Tax Guide.  (11-16-2012)
Tax Payment Voucher Mail Outs

  1. The IRS mails Package 1040-ES/V (Payment Vouchers), which includes estimated tax payment vouchers preprinted with the taxpayer’s name, address, and social security number (SSN), using Pre-sorted First Class Mail, to taxpayers who:

    • E-file

    • File using computer program (such as Turbo Tax)

    • File their returns using a preparer

    • File paper returns

    The taxpayer’s SSN is embedded in the scan line of the Form 1040-V and Form 1040-ES (OCR) payment vouchers. The scan line identifies the taxpayer and enables efficient processing of payments. Vouchers are used to collect quarterly tax payments and any balances due for the current year from taxpayers.  (11-16-2012)
Availability of Tax Products and Services

  1. The IRS produces tax products and services can be obtained in a variety of ways from these main categories:

    • Electronically

    • By Placing an order

    • By Walk-in at an IRS-approved location  (11-16-2012)
Electronic Availability via www.irs.gov

  1. IRS tax products are accessible via the Internet from the IRS website at www.irs.gov. In addition, several software products are available from retail outlets that generate IRS-acceptable versions of tax forms and instructions. Pub 1167, General Rules and Specifications for Substitute Forms and Schedules, provides general guidelines on the acceptability of these products.  (11-16-2012)
Electronic Availability via DVD

  1. IRS tax products are also available on DVD. The DVD contains current and prior-year IRS tax forms and instructions, beginning with tax year 1913, and Taxpayer Information Publications (TIPS) beginning with tax year 1994. Ordering information for the DVDs changes each year. Refer to Pub 2053-A, Quick and Easy Access to IRS Tax Products and Tax Help, for the most current information.  (11-16-2012)
Electronic Availability via E-file

  1. IRS e-file enables taxpayers and tax professionals to file tax returns electronically. Publishing prints the products that are maintained in the e-file program. E-file is the brand name of the electronic filing method established by the IRS.  (11-16-2012)
Electronic Availability via the Core Repository of Published Products (CROPP)

  1. The CROPP is a publishing management system that collects, stores, manages, and delivers published products for use in electronic publishing applications. Access to this system is only available to IRS employees.  (11-16-2012)
Ordering Availability via Mail

  1. Customers may order tax forms, instructions and publications by mailing their request to the National Distribution Center (NDC). See IRM, Order Entry, for more information on ordering from the NDC.  (11-16-2012)
Ordering Availability via Telephone

  1. Customers can also order forms, instructions, and publications by phone from the NDC, which is part of the Distribution Division in Media and Publications (for more information about NDC ordering, refer to IRM, Order Entry). Pub 2053-A, Quick and Easy Access to IRS Tax Products and Tax Help, provides the telephone number for additional information on ordering from the NDC. The NDC mails requested products to taxpayers within seven to ten business days of order receipt.  (11-16-2012)
Walk-in Availability for Tax Products and Services

  1. Tax products in these programs are designed to help taxpayers understand tax laws and IRS procedures, and to obtain assistance with tax return preparation. The products supplement IRS services such as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE), and Community Outreach Tax Education. See http://publish.no.irs.gov/pubsys/taxpyred/taxpyred.html for details on Understanding Taxes Program for Students; and for details on the Small Business Program see IRM  (11-16-2012)
Walk-in Availability via Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) Program

  1. The Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) Program supplies TAC Program participants with tax forms, instructions, and publications for redistribution to the public. The products available to program participants are listed on the TAC Product List posted to the IRS website at www.irs.gov. Publishing’s role is to provide the TACs with the printed products needed to fulfill taxpayer demand.  (11-16-2012)
Walk-in Availability via Community-Based Outlet Program (CBOP)

  1. The lRS, local community, businesses and organizations across the country work together to increase the availability of tax products. Participants in this program include corporations, copy centers, county and city governments, credit unions, newspapers, and grocery stores and pharmacies, which either directly provide or indirectly promote sources of tax products.  (11-16-2012)
Walk-in Availability via Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program

  1. The VITA Program uses trained volunteers to prepare basic tax returns for low-income taxpayers, in both urban and non-urban locations, persons with disabilities, non-English speaking persons, Limited English Proficiency, elderly taxpayers, and Native Americans. See http://publish.no.irs.gov/distsys/vita/vita.html for more details.  (11-16-2012)
Walk-in Availability via Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Program

  1. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program offers FREE tax help to individuals who are age 60 or older. The Revenue Act of 1978 authorizes this cooperative agreement by providing grants to private or non-governmental public non-profit agencies and organizations to provide tax assistance to elderly taxpayers (grant recipients) in the preparation of their Federal income tax returns.

  2. All sites must have one copy of the following reference materials available for use by volunteer return preparers and quality reviewers:

    • Pub 4012, VITA/TCE Volunteer Resource Guide

    • Pub 17, Your Federal Income Tax for Individuals

    • Pub 3189, Volunteer e-file Administration Guide

    • Volunteer Tax Alerts – must be available at the site within five (5) days of Stakeholder Partnership, Education and Communication (SPEC) issuance.

    In addition, all grant recipients must fill out a Form 13614-C, Intake/Interview & Quality Review Sheet.

  3. Tax return preparation assistance is provided to elderly taxpayers during the usual period for filing Federal income tax returns, which is from January 1 to April 15 each year. However, the program activities required to ensure that elderly taxpayers receive efficient and quality tax assistance can be conducted year-round.  (11-16-2012)
Walk-in Availability via Tax Forms Outlet Program (TFOP)

  1. Thousands of outlets participate in the TFOP, which was formerly known as the Banks, Post Offices, and Libraries (BPOL) Program. Participating outlets distribute tax products on a volunteer basis to their patrons. Participants in the program provide forms and instructions for Form 1040, Form 1040-A, Form 1040-EZ, most of the Form 1040 Schedules, and many other tax forms and publications.

  2. Some of the outlets provide Pub 1132, Reproducible Copies of Federal Tax Forms and Instructions, from which patrons may photocopy tax products. Outlets may also order from a select list of additional forms, instructions and publications as well as the CD-ROM for public access.  (11-16-2012)
Walk-in Availability via the Post of Duty (POD) Program

  1. Only large-quantity tax products (60 or more full cartons) are shipped directly from the printing contractors to the TAC and TFOP offices as part of either the POD or TFOP Programs. An exception is made for the highest-volume Form 1040 products on the TFOP contracts which are shipped to TFOP offices packed together to make full cartons. The balance of the printed products is shipped to the National Distribution Center (NDC) (see IRM, National Distribution Center (NDC), for more details on the NDC), which fills orders for products with less than 60 full cartons and less-than-full-carton quantities for these programs (except the TFOP Form 1040 products mentioned above). Lower-volume tax products are printed on term contracts. Other tax products are printed as single, one-time-bid contracts or as part of the POD and TAC Programs under nine contracts with four to six products on each contact. Four of the contracts print high-volume forms not included on the TFOP contracts and ship directly from the contractor to the TAC and TFOP outlets. Four of the remaining contracts print the same products and ship in bulk to the NDC and campuses. The last contract has six instructions and ships both directly to TAC and TFOP outlets and in bulk to the NDC and campuses.  (11-16-2012)
Walk-in Availability via Non-IRS Taxpayer Assistance Outlets

  1. Certain forms, instructions, and publications are available from post offices, libraries, U.S. embassies and consulates, businesses, copy centers, and other locations to provide taxpayers with immediate access to high-demand products. Publishing prints and supplies the Taxpayer Assistance Outlets to meet the demands of taxpayers.  (11-16-2012)
Walk-in Availability via the International Program

  1. The International Program (formerly Embassy Program) provides U.S. embassies, consulates, and military bases around the world with bulk tax products for redistribution. This program is designed to make tax-filing materials available to many U.S. taxpayers traveling or stationed abroad.  (11-16-2012)
Walk-in Availability via Paid Return Preparers

  1. Taxpayers may also use paid tax return preparers to complete tax returns by payer or electronically. These preparers are required to use, order and maintain approved IRS forms and e-file systems. New regulations require all paid tax return preparers to have a preparer tax identification number (PTIN). This includes enrolled agents, registered tax return preparers, certified public accountants (CPAs), or attorneys – all of whom have unlimited rights to work with tax returns. The IRS is also phasing in a new test requirement to make sure those who are not an enrolled agent, a CPA, or an attorney have met minimal competency requirements. Taxpayers are legally responsible for what is on their tax return even if it is prepared by someone else.  (11-16-2012)
Tax Products Development Responsibilities within M&P

  1. Although every functional area of the IRS is involved in the development and issuance of tax forms program material, the Director, Media and Publications is responsible for the overall development, printing and distribution of the tax products printing production material in a timely, cost efficient manner.  (11-16-2012)
Tax Forms and Publications (TF&P) Responsibilities

  1. TF&P develops and revises tax products in accord with legislation enacted by Congress and ensures that they are technically accurate, understandable and as easy to use as possible so taxpayers can fulfill their tax filling and payment obligations. The content then comes to Publishing to be printed. Publishing partners with TF&P to ensure products are distributed on time and correctly.  (11-16-2012)
Publishing Responsibilities

  1. Publishing plans, designs, prints, and distributes all official IRS published products in print and electronic formats for use by the public to comply with tax filing and payment requirements and obligations or for use within IRS for tax administration. This encompasses the integrated design, specifications writing, production planning, acquisition, and delivery/distribution coordination required to provide the highest-quality products and services, using all print and electronic media and technology available.  (11-16-2012)
Distribution Responsibilities

  1. Distribution works closely with Publishing to coordinate with contractors on the movement of products and with Publishing Services Specialists to determine quantities and products that are to be printed. Both organizations cooperate to determine which methods of printing and distribution would be the best value. See IRM 1.18 for more information on Distribution responsibilities.  (11-16-2012)
National Distribution Center (NDC) Responsibilities

  1. Publishing stores printed products at the NDC. The NDC receives bulk shipments of printed tax forms and redistributes them based on requests from IRS internal and external customers. The NDC is located in Bloomington, IL and is assigned to the Distribution Director; M&P. See IRM 1.18.5, National Distribution Center, for more information on the NDC programs and operations.  (11-16-2012)
Tax Products Workflow

  1. The steps for developing tax products are described in the tax products workflow. Document 12687, Getting Your Information Published at the IRS, also contains the workflow Publishing follows to produce tax and other IRS published products.

  2. The Publishing Services Request (PSR) is used to initiate a product request. See, User Guide for Requesting a Published Product, for more information on the PSR process.  (11-16-2012)
Initiation of the PSR

  1. The Director of Publishing delegates initiation of the PSRs to Publishing Services Specialists for the development of tax forms, publications, and instructions. Publishing provides the PSR electronic application for customers to request Publishing products and services. Customers initiate a PSR by going to the PSR homepage at http://caps-as.enterprise.irs.gov/psr/app. The PSR automates the process of obtaining business and funding approvals, gathering product information, and initiating contact with Publishing. Once the customer submits the PSR, it is assigned to Publishing Services Specialists for production. For all other IRS published products, customers can also use a PSR to request any type of publishing service that previously required a Form 1767.  (11-16-2012)
Clearance of Tax Products Text

  1. After the PSR is approved, the clearance procedure begins by having a Tax Law Specialist (TLS) review the tax product for clarity and accuracy. During the clearance procedure, Publishing, TF&P, and the Tax Products Coordinating Committee (TPCC) prepare, review, and revise drafts of tax products. When it is determined that the final product can be released to Publishing, TF&P sends a signed and dated Form 9589, Ok-to-Print Authorization, to the Electronic Composition Section in Publishing.  (11-16-2012)
Electronic Composition of Tax Products Text

  1. The Electronic Composition Section obtains or creates a final reproducible Portable Document Format (PDF) file of each tax product and performs a quality review of fillable PDFs of tax forms. The section creates and performs Section 508-compliant quality reviews of PDFs for tax products and forwards them to the Alternative Media Center.  Composition also creates alternative electronic versions of publications and instructions for Section 508 compliance (e.g., an HTML version), and for use on mobile devices (e.g., an eBook version). Composition posts PDFs and other related files for all products in alternative formats to the Core Repository of Published Products (CROPP) and stages files for posting to www.irs.gov for upload via the Electronic Tax Forms Distribution (ETFD) application. Stakeholders (Publishing Services Specialists and Distribution Analysts) receive notification when OK-to-Print files are available for printing and posting.  (11-16-2012)
Issuing Tax Products OK-to-Print Notification

  1. Once Electronic Composition provides an OK-to-Print file, the Publishing Services Specialist updates and issues the product information as an Electronic Status Notice (ESN). ESN is software that tracks and maintains a catalog of products published by the IRS. (See IRM, Electronic Status Notice (ESN), for more information about ESN). Issuing is the final step in updating a product’s information. This step communicates with the catalog page, which houses all the products the IRS publishes on the Publishing website and is located at www.publish.no.irs.gov, and makes the products available for all IRS employees to see. Any changes made to the product’s information in ESN will be reflected on the catalog page.  (11-16-2012)
Requesting a Form 2040 Distribution List/Pattern

  1. Form 2040 is the distribution list that also includes the product and vendor information. Publishing Services Specialists should e-mail the Distribution Analyst to request a Form 2040 after issuing the product in ESN. Form 2040 is only available electronically and can only be accessed by Publishing Services Specialists from the “Page One” intranet site.  (11-16-2012)
Procurement of Tax Products

  1. The Publishing Services Data (PSD) application is a software product that is used to track procurement information on each product. (See IRM, Publishing Services Data (PSD), for more information about PSD). This information consists of schedules of when the product is procured, the cost of the procurement, the vendor that is doing the work, and the type of procurement vehicle used (for procurement vehicles, see the next topic). After receiving a Form 2040 from a Distribution Analyst, the Publishing Services Specialist should input all necessary data (e.g., schedules, commitment of funds, procurement information) in the PSD application.  (11-16-2012)
Procurement Vehicles

  1. There are three primary procurement vehicles for the production of tax products. Only Publishing Services Specialists are authorized to use these procurement vehicles. Publishing Services Specialists initiate the procurement and print production of IRS published products using the following forms:

    1. GPO Form 2511, Print Order - Purpose: Authorizes work to be performed on term contract. Use: This form is completed by the requesting agency or by Government Printing Office (GPO) procurement office when jobs are converted from a requisition to a print order to be placed on a term contract.

    2. GPO Form 4044, Simplified Purchase Agreement (SPA) Work Order - Purpose: Authorizes a contractor to manufacture and ship products to a GPO customer. Use: This form allows a GPO customer to order products directly from a contractor.

    3. Standard Form 1, Printing and Binding Requisition - Purpose: The only authorized format for submission of printing and binding requirements from Government agencies. Use: The form shall be reviewed to ensure compliance with Office of Management and Budget regulations governing printing for agencies in the Executive Branch. Requisitions are serially numbered by the agency.  (11-16-2012)
Quality Control

  1. The Tax Form Printing Program is one of the primary ways for the IRS to communicate the tax law to the general public. Therefore, quality is important during all phases of preparation and production. Quality in terms of typography, design, format, readability, usability and product printability must be a prime part of all review and decision making steps.  (11-16-2012)
Quality Control Planning and Review

  1. Prior to actual printing production, Publishing exercises quality control through a planning and review process that ensures:

    1. The item is properly cleared, authorized, and identified through form numbering, catalog numbering, etc.

    2. The selected styles and sizes of type adhere to accepted tax forms standards.

    3. The format and printed product specifications will produce the most effective and economical product to fulfill the need.

    4. Adequate scheduling and planning time has been allowed, where possible, to minimize the possibility of error.

    5. All proofs and copy are reviewed for accuracy.

    6. The final reproduction proofs have consistent tonal density, high contrast, and sharp/clear images.

    7. All printing instructions are precise, clearly understandable, and consistent with printing trade customs.

    8. The impact on related items has been considered - e.g., form size versus related envelopes, paper weight/size versus processing method, product format versus shipping/mailing requirements, etc.  (11-16-2012)
On-site Quality Control Planning and Review

  1. During the production of IRS products, Publishing conducts on-site press sheet inspection visits to control, as much as possible, the quality of the final product.

  2. Quality, from a program management standpoint, also extends beyond the tangible parameters of the published product. Publishing schedules and coordinates all elements required to ensure a successful procurement including:

    1. Planning and scheduling to meet critical deadlines.

    2. Coordinating and communicating actual requirements among a diversity of sources.

    3. Evaluating the importance of user needs and translating these into positive actions.

    4. Providing guidance and advice on the impact of any program changes.

    5. Evaluating procedures, methods, and costs on a continuing basis.

    6. Determining alternatives necessary to ensure mission fulfillment.

    7. Instituting systems for monitoring and controlling all aspects of the procurement.  (11-16-2012)
Off-site Quality and Quantity Assurance

  1. Publishing manages almost 400 different production contracts from 75 vendors to administer the IRS tax products program. To ensure that the Service is obtaining the best value for the cost, all offices must monitor receipts for quality and quantity.

  2. To ensure an adequate level of quality, the IRS conducts an aggressive quality assurance program that involves Publishing on-site press sheet inspection trips. During or after an on-site press sheet inspection, Publishing personnel will:

    1. Conduct a thorough quality assurance inspection of each selected tax item, using Form 5508, Quality Assurance Inspection Report, as a guide.

    2. Complete Form 5508 in triplicate to serve as a record of the inspection, and then forward two copies of Form 5508 and samples of the item inspected to the Chief, Channel Delivery or the Chief, Tax Products, via Express Mail within 24 hours of each inspection.

    3. Notify the Quality Assurance Program Manager by telephone of any situation that requires immediate corrective action.

  3. Only the Government Printing Office, as the official contracting officer, is authorized to make any changes to the printing contracts. M&P Publishing personnel who perform press sheet inspections are not authorized to change printing contracts.

  4. Publishing must conduct quality and quantity surveys in an expeditious and unbiased manner. The results of these surveys can result in significant damage assessments against the printing contractor and, therefore, may be subject to protest by the contractor.

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