- Paper I bonds will still be available in 2012 to those who request them via Form 8888. He says that's definite.
- "The program will not continue indefinitely" and emphasized that indefinitely means just that--could be a long time, could be a short time.
- He expects the regular Treasury mail-in order form to be taken down from the website in December, and says that paper bonds absolutely will not be sold via those mail-in order forms after 2011.
Will the "paper bond backdoor" detailed e.g. by the Finance Buff here actually exist?
I called 1-800-829-1040 and asked. I started off by saying I had questions about forms 8888 and 4868. I was transferred to someone who seemed to understand what I was getting at, who handed me off to someone else. I made it clear that the issue was whether it was OK to deliberately overestimate tax liabilities on form 4868, for the purpose of creating a refund, for the purpose of obtaining paper I bonds. I was put on hold for a few minutes while the rep checked. She came back and said "I need to check with someone else to make sure it's OK." When she came back this time, she said "I know our website and the forms refer to paper bonds, but they will not be paper, they will be electronic. We only just got the information about this."
I did not press for details on how this will work, and will leave it to others to dig deeper.
It's notable that the Treasury Direct website still has the mail-in order form and says nothing about it being discontinued, although verbally they have said that it. Perhaps there is still some chaos and disorganization, or perhaps there is a carefully crafted plan and (strictly my imagination here) at midnight of December 31st that form will disappear from their website, and form 8888 will be replaced with a revised version on which you enter your Treasury Direct account number...
Attempting to mail in the mail-in form in 2012, or attempting to file this year's form 8888 in April 2012, might or might not be an effective way to protest and send a message--but I suspect it will not achieve the goal of actually getting paper I bonds, and will probably expose one to frustration, confusion, and irritation.