Taxing resources

For some, their single annual visit to a public library is to get their necessary tax forms.

In Oklahoma, public libraries have an added burden this year. The Oklahoma Tax Commission is NOT sending any forms to public libraries as they have in the past. Instead they are instructing libraries to point patrons to the website where they can print out the necessary forms. Our policy is to charge for printing, so when we tell patrons that we can help them print out forms, but it will cost them, they are understandably upset This is definitely a cost saver for the OTC, but I would love to channel the anger directed at the lowly librarian for this state decision back to the source of the decision.

This year also has a fun twist on the I.R.S. side. The economic stimulus package requires certain individuals to fill out a tax form even if they aren’t required to normally. This, to get their (reduced amount of) $300.00. Most people will not have to do anything to get the rebate… just file their taxes as normal and the rebate will be issued, but there are special circumstances which require specific action:

The law also allows for payments for select taxpayers who have no tax liability, such as low-income workers or those who receive Social Security benefits or veterans’ disability compensation, pension or survivors’ benefits received from the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2007. These taxpayers will be eligible to receive a payment of $300 ($600 on a joint return) if they had at least $3,000 of qualifying income.

Essentially, these individuals must file a tax return. There is even this nice sample of how to fill out the tax form.

Another growing tax season ritual for the libraries is helping patrons print off their W-2 forms. A large number of employers now offer W-2s online as a “convenience” for their employees. This service is pushed out to the libraries where a large percentage of the working poor have the only Internet access available to them. Likewise, many companies now require job applicants to use web-based methods of applying and many of those people use the public library.

It is interesting to watch this changing role of libraries to adjust our resources to needs like these –  pushed off onto the Internet for convenience.



2 responses to “Taxing resources

  1. Just prior to starting the MLIS I worked in the local public library for about 5 months. This time period happened to coincide with the opening of the new Home Depot, and since they were only accepting online applications we got lots of folks coming in for just that purpose, quite a few needing basic computer instruction just to navigate the form.

    Nothing like seeing the digital divide right in front of you to make a person wonder where this “the internet is perfect for everything” trend will lead.

  2. Pingback: IRS to libraries: “Thank You” « Library Computer Guy’s Weblog

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