by Melanie Brunson
Just in time for the filing of 2010 income tax returns, I thought readers of "The Braille Forum" might be interested to know that hundreds of the IRS's most popular publications and federal income tax forms are now available in alternate formats. Many can be downloaded directly from the IRS's web site, www.irs.gov. They are located on the Accessibility page. Available formats include braille, text, and/or large print. One of the unique items offered on the IRS web site is access to talking tax forms, which are in a very accessible PDF format.
One of the other noteworthy items is Publication 907, Tax Highlights for Persons with Disabilities, which explains the tax implications of certain disabilities and discusses other issues of interest to people with disabilities. To see a complete list of what's available, and download any publications that are of interest to you, visit the IRS web site and look for the link to the Accessibility page.
You may also order publications and forms in alternate formats by phone, if you can't download them, or want a hard copy in braille or large print. To place orders by phone, call 1-800-829-3676. People who want to contact the IRS using a TTY can call 1-800-829-4059.
While we're on the subject of federal income taxes, readers should also know that individuals who need assistance filling out income tax forms because of a disability can often obtain that assistance through a program called the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which is sponsored by the IRS. Taxpayers interested in learning more about this program, including the places where VITA volunteers are located in their particular community, can call 1-800-906-9887.
The IRS is trying to make more of its information and forms easier for people who are blind to access. I hope readers will make use of the resources that are available and encourage them in this effort.