Revenue Administrative Bulletin 1990-17
Approved: April 12, 1990
PRIVATELY PRINTED TAX
REQUIREMENTS AND PERMISSIBLE USES
RAB-90-17. The purpose of this Bulletin is to set forth
the requirements and permissible uses of tax forms not printed by
or obtained from the Michigan Department of Treasury. This
Bulletin applies to forms for the following taxes:
Individual Income Tax
Motor Fuel Taxes
Sales, Use and Withholding Taxes
(excluding forms C-3200 and C-3094)
Single Business Tax
The Michigan Department of Treasury will accept the following
kinds of tax forms in lieu of the official form:
- Privately printed (reproduced) forms;
- Computer generated facsimiles (laser-printed) forms;
- Computer generated substitutes (dot-matrix printed) forms.
(Not allowed for signature documents, see "Computer-Generated
(Dot-Matrix) Substitute" below.)
All substitute forms must meet the guidelines set out in this
Bulletin. The Department reserves the right to reject forms that
do not meet these requirements.
The Department must approve any computer-generated versions of
the official tax forms before such forms are filed with the
Department. No approval is required for filing photocopies of the
official forms or copies produced from official reproducible
Approvals are effective for only one return year.
Apply for approval by submitted a copy of the substitute form
proof, dummy, line printer or laser printer output to:
Michigan Department of Treasury
Publications and Forms Division
Lansing, MI 48922
Please allow for adequate response time. The Department will
issue a formal notice of approval/non-approval. If not approved,
the Department will specify changes required for approval, but
may require re-submission of the corrected documents before
granting final approval.
General Guidelines for All Substitute Forms
- Design. Each substitute tax form must
follow the design of the official form as to type style
and size, arrangement, form number, item caption, line
numbers, line references, dot leaders, and sequence.
- Size. Substitutes must be the same size
as the official form.
- Paper. The paper must be equal to or
better than the quality used for the official form.
Usually, 18# (17" x 22", 500 sheets) white bond
will be acceptable. Optically scanned forms require 24# (17"
x 22", 500 sheets) bond.
- Paper and Ink Color. Substitute forms
should be printed in black ink on a color of paper that
substantially duplicates the official form. White paper
may be used for substitutes of official forms printed on
colored paper except for form MI-1041ES Fiduciary
Quarterly Estimate Vouchers which must be printed on pink
- Legibility. All forms must be highly
legible and readable. The Department reserves the right
to reject forms of poor legibility.
- Form Instructions. Text that is solely
instructional may be omitted from both computer-prepared
and computer-generated forms.
- Zero Entries. A response or amount must
be entered on all lines. If the amount to be reported on
a particular line is zero, enter zero (0). All amounts
that make up the totals must be entered, not just the
- Negative Entries. Negative dollar
amounts must be reported in parentheses. Example: ($100).
- Signature. The taxpayer must sign the
form in the designated space. All taxpayer signatures on
forms filed with the Department must be original
The Department will accept a photocopy of the income tax
- Pre-addressed Label. When the Department
provides a pre-addressed label on the taxpayer's original
return booklet, apply the label to the substitute tax
return. Use of the label reduces the chance of error and
delay in processing the return.
The Publications and Forms Division will approve for filing
forms that are entirely produced on a laser printer if they meet
all the specifications and provisions above. In addition:
- Laser-printed substitutes for the Department's optically
scanned forms must include the scan line so the
substitute form can be processed efficiently. Scan line
specifications are available from the Publications and
Forms Division at the address given on page 1 of this
Bulletin. Scan lines must be printed in OCR ink/toner.
- Laser-printed substitutes for optically scanned forms
must be printed ONE TO A PAGE and cut to the correct
vertical height. The program should generate a top line
to define the cutting edge for the preparer. The form is
to be positioned at the bottom of the page to ensure a
dependable feeding edge and positive margin for optical
- The software company must be identified on the form in a
location approved by the Publications and Forms Division.
The Division will assign a code number to a software
company to use as an identifier if the company so
- Software companies must provide their clients with
instructions about stock, format, and the size and ink
necessary for optically scannable forms printed on a
Exception: Items 1 through 4 do not apply to forms C-3200
Return for Sales, Use, Withholding and Single Business Taxes or C-3094
Discount Voucher for Sales and Use Taxes. Only the official
versions of these forms are acceptable for filing.
Computer-Generated (Dot Matrix) Substitutes
- Dot-matrix substitutes are unacceptable for all
signature documents. Signature documents must be
either the official form, privately printed forms using
conventional printing processes, photocopies of the
official form, or approved laser facsimiles. These forms
may be filled in by computer, but must be printed like
the official version.
Any schedule that does not require a signature may be
generated as a dot matrix substitute. For example:
Form C-8000G SBT Business Income Averaging
Form C-8020 SBT Penalty and Interest for Non-Filing
Form MI-4797 Adjustments of Gains and Losses Under
Form MI-1040D Adjustments of Gains and Losses Under
Any schedule that does require a signature may not be
generated as a dot matrix substitute. For example:
Form MI-1040CR Michigan Homestead Property Tax Credit
Form MI-1040CR-7 Michigan Home Heating Credit Claim
- Format. The schedule should look as much
like the official one as possible, with the emphasis on
readability. Periods and/or other special characters
should be used to separate the various parts and sections
of the form. Each section of the form must be identified
as on the official version. All line numbers must be
printed even though a zero amount will be reported.
- Form Number and Identification.
- Individual Income Tax Forms: The first print line of
the return must contain the form title and the return
- All Forms: Print the taxpayer's name and account
number (or social security number) on each page of
- Line Numbers. The line reference number
must be printed to the left of the corresponding line of
text and also immediately preceding the data entry field.
In addition, line number screened in white type or with
an arrow preceding it on the official form must be
preceded by a double asterisk (**) on the substitute form
(for use by the Department's data entry operators).
- Vertical Alignment. The amount entry
lines should be vertically aligned where possible.
- Multiple Page Forms. Each page of
multiple page forms must be printed on a separate page.
When printed on continuous sheets, detach and discard the
pin-feed holes and burst and collate the pages before
The Publications and Forms Division will approve substitute
carbon-loaded or carbonless unit set substitutes if they meet all
the specifications and guidelines above. In addition:
- Second and subsequent ply images may be black or blue.
- All plies that will be filed with the Department of
Treasury must be legible.
- There is to be NO facsimile line on any form produced as
a unit set.
If the substitute forms have been approved by the Department,
but subsequently prove to disrupt or impede be processing of tax
returns, for whatever reason, the preparer, taxpayer, or other
person submitting the form agrees to: