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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Tax Forms at the Library

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, February 17, 2019

I had just started my first library administrative position in 1977 when the IRS announced that a tax distribution form program had just been started for public libraries.

 

The IRS had been working with the American Library Association to develop a binder of standard tax forms that could be photocopied by the public at their local library, as well as multiple copies of the most common forms distributed to the 16,000 public library locations in the U.S.

 

The reaction of librarians was mixed with concern about how this would work.  The State Library of Ohio assisted with the distribution plans and suggested methods for the mechanics, and things seemed to work well in those early years.

 

As time passed, the program worked well and grew rapidly with banks and post offices dropping their distribution of the IRS forms in later years.

 

As online services expanded, forms from many agencies became available online, and the proliferation of available forms online combined with public computers in libraries combined to make the public library a great place for the information to be distributed.

 

We have been told that 92 percent of taxpayers file their taxes with the IRS online, diminishing the need for paper forms, but the distribution continues.

 

Our library system is still waiting for the IRS actual paper forms to arrive as many of them have been updated and rewritten with the changes to the federal tax laws.  Forms 1040EZ and 1040A no longer exist and numerous changes were made to the other available forms.

 

The library’s website at www.steubenvillelibrary.org contains a link to the IRS forms under the “e-Resource” section under the blue tab.  Forms can be printed from there.

 

You can also come to any of our libraries to print those forms if you need assistance.

 

The State of Ohio Taxation Dept. provides only the instruction booklet, not the actual form in paper format, and the library has a limited number of those booklets.  There are 15 schedules also available to copy relating to state income tax.

 

Ohio also provides a one-page instruction sheet of how to file electronically.

 

RITA is the agency that handles income taxes for many Ohio cities and villages and they have a link to their website also on the library web page.  There are 7 additional forms available.

 

Our library system provides only federal and Ohio forms, we do not actively work with other neighboring states for tax information.

 

Librarians are not versed in tax preparation, and cannot give tax preparation advice.

 

We are pleased to provide the tax form service and will assist you in the process of finding forms for federal, state, and local income tax purposes.

 

The public library has filled the void created by the closure of various federal, state, and local offices and agencies over the years as online systems have replaced the staffed offices of these organizations.

 

We continue to have staff in our buildings, open many days per week, answering phones with human beings to serve the public.

 

The Internet has given public libraries a whole new spectrum of data and information to use in answering your inquiries.

 

It is shocking to me to think back 40 years to my early days of librarianship at the changes that have taken place in the resources available in library collections, both paper and electronic.