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

You May See An Increase In Patrons

   October 14th, 2010

IRS logoI'm sure everyone has heard that the IRS is not going to be mailing 2010 tax forms to peoples' homes next year.

I don't blame them for looking for ways to save money, and it's good to be moving towards more efficient processes. But this isn't exactly a gentle nudge - this is a sharp push, which will be especially painful to people without internet access or few computer skills.

This also means, of course, that libraries will see even more demand for tax forms next year (and probably hear from many annoyed patrons). To warn us, the IRS sent out the following email through their Tax Form Outlet Program - forgive me if you've seen this, but the bold line below was too priceless not to share:



Thank you for your participation in TFOP. The IRS announced that individual[1] and business[2] taxpayers will no longer receive paper income tax packages in the mail from the IRS. These tax packages contained the forms, schedules and instructions for filing a paper income tax return. The IRS is taking this step because of the continued growth in electronic filing and the availability of free
options to taxpayers, as well as to help reduce costs.

There are numerous FREE OPTIONS available for your patrons to obtain tax products, tax preparation and assistance in filing their tax returns:

  • Download Forms and instructions online[3] at IRS.gov
  • Visit an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC)[4], participating libraries and U. S. Post Offices
  • Individuals making $49,000 or less can use the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance[5] program for free tax preparation and, in many cases, free electronic filing
  • Individuals aged 60 and older can take advantage of free tax counseling and basic income tax preparation through Tax Counseling for the Elderly[6]
  • IRS Free File[7] provides options for free brand-name tax software or online fillable forms plus free electronic filing. For more information, visit IRS Free File[8] on IRS.gov


Although tax products are available online[9] at IRS.gov and IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs)[10], you may experience an increase in patrons visiting your location for tax products.

The IRS mailed postcards[11] to individuals who filed paper returns last year and did not use a tax preparer or tax software. The postcard provides information on how to get the tax forms and instructions they need for filing their tax year 2010 return.


Your TFOP order form lists the most commonly used tax products. Use the order form to order additional stock of any of these products, if necessary. Your order form lists Publication 1132, /Reproducible Copies of Federal Tax Forms and Instructions/ and Publication 3194, /Reproducible Copies of Federal Tax Forms /- Laminated Version. These publications contain the most commonly used tax products that, if available, can be photocopied by your patrons. Tax products will become available beginning January 2011.

Thank you.

IRS TFOP Administrator

I think "you may see an increase in patrons" is a bit of an understatement.

So to prepare, I'll be making signs to put up near the tax forms explaining the situation, and will also try to get the local newspaper to run a notification article or two before tax season starts. I will also quote to them from the CNN article:

Those who prefer hardcopy documents can still find them at libraries, post offices and walk-in IRS offices around the country. After Jan. 1, they can request a mailing through the IRS toll-free number, 800-829-3676.

Yes, it should be a fun one this year.

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9 Responses to “You May See An Increase In Patrons”

  1. Twitter Trackbacks for Swiss Army Librarian » You May See An Increase In Patrons :: Brian Herzog [swissarmylibrarian.net] on Topsy.com Says:

    […] Swiss Army Librarian » You May See An Increase In Patrons :: Brian Herzog swissarmylibrarian.net/2010/10/14/you-may-see-an-increase-in-patrons – view page – cached Swiss Army Librarian is a blog by Brian Herzog mostly about library and technology issues relating to public libraries Tweets about this link […]

  2. Erin Says:

    I know, I have a feeling it’ll be extra extra busy this year! Wondering how signage will work out, that is always an interesting one 🙂 Good idea for the local paper ad!

  3. Monica Says:

    The email arrived a convenient 1 week after our initial tax form order was sent out. *head desk*

  4. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Monica: I wondered myself if they waited until the library tax form orders were in before making this announcement.

  5. Emily Lloyd Says:

    Ha! We got a kick out of that particular line at my library, too.

  6. Alabama Tax Says:

    Ok i like your article post but i think e filing is very fast process for state and federal tax filing 2010. Now a day’s very easy to get tax refund and we can easily know our tax refund status.

  7. Meg Mackey Says:

    The IRS stopped sending tax forms to the library that I work at years ago. Every year we post a sign saying that we no longer carry tax forms, and every year patrons ignore the sign and ask anyway. I have no idea why this is, but it causes a quite an uproar with patrons who aren’t computer literate and would prefer a hard copy.

  8. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Meg: My library gets them through the IRS’ tax form outlet program. If you would like to have them at your library, it might be worth contacting them. We submit an order form in July or so, then the forms start arriving ready to go in December.

  9. Heather Says:

    At my library, we usually print out all of the “unusual” forms from the web on an asked-for basis. However, this is NOT free, because we do use our very expensive printers for this and it will eventually come to bite us in the butt!