or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk




Tax Forms – Come & Get ‘Em

   January 16th, 2007 Brian Herzog

Chelmsford Library's tax form displayEvery year, public libraries (and, I'm sure, post offices, town halls, senior centers, and other public places) have the pleasure of being a distribution point for Federal and State tax forms.

Which is a good thing, but it can also be somewhat trying. In my experience, here are some popular misconceptions concerning libraries and tax forms:

  • Libraries do not choose when or which forms to put out. The IRS and State Dept. of Revenue send us the forms over a period of about three months, and we put out whatever arrives
  • Libraries do not create these forms - we really do have to wait until they are sent to us. If the form you need is not out, we haven't received it yet (but keep reading)
  • Library staff cannot give tax advice - even if you're not sure of how to fill out your taxes, you can believe me when I say we are in no way qualified to help you file your taxes. I can help you find forms, or find someone who can help, but I cannot give you tax advice
  • There are no more forms in the back - we're not trying to hide anything from you, or save something for someone else. Everything we've received is available to the public

This year at my library, I'm trying something new with our tax form display. In years past, the tax forms were kept on empty bookshelves about as far away from the front door as you could get. This was messy and needlessly complicated.

This year, I bought a stand to hold the forms, set up a couple tables for the instruction booklets, and put everything right at the base of the stairs in the reference area (see photo). This is about 100 feet closer to the front door - and about as close as I can get while still being within range of the reference desk, so we can help people when they have questions. A small triumph.

Also, since we haven't received every tax form published by the Federal and State governments, and can't do patrons' taxes for them, below are some tax resources we frequently use:

libraries, library, tax, tax display, tax forms, taxes



Tags: , , , , ,



Reference Question of the Week – 11/19

   November 21st, 2006 Brian Herzog

IRS logoI'm going to be traveling for Thanksgiving, so I wanted to get this one in right away. Yesterday, 11/20/06 (yes, note the date: November 20th), a patron walked up to the desk and asks:

Patron: Do you have any tax forms yet?

Tax forms. It's November, and this patron wants to work on filing his taxes already. Already. It's November. At best, we don't receive the forms from the IRS until January, and even that's pushing it sometimes.

It's bad enough that people are decorating for Christmas around Halloween (no kidding - I saw red and green Christmas lights up on Halloween night), but it's not even close to tax time yet. Oh well, I guess the first request of the season had to come sometime.

patrons, reference question, tax season, taxes



Tags: , , ,