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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Just a paper form in an online world

You might think that with the prevalence of the Internet and easy access to online tax forms that paper forms would not have a place in this brave new world. That's hardly the case. In fact, here at the library we still have a useful (and much used) collection of paper forms.

I spoke with Reference Assistant Gwen LaCosse to learn more about our tax forms and surviving tax season.

Who are you and what do you do? 

I'm a full-time Reference Assistant in Reference, which is part of the Adult Services Department. Ordering and maintaining the income tax forms collection is one of my "off-desk" (as we say) duties. My main responsibility is to staff the Reference Desk.

When did you get involved with the tax forms here?

I don't recall exactly but at least ten years ago (I've been here 11). I was part-time at that point. Holly (who is now the Library Director) asked me to take over the collection. The person who had been doing it had moved to another department.

What makes our collection of tax forms unique?

The variety and the depth. Some patrons come from a substantial distance for a form or publication that their own library may not carry and that they do not know how to access online. Or, patrons from Des Plaines (or another town) may come here for a form that is NOT printable from a computer, the 1099-MISC (Miscellaneous Income) for example.

Some patrons come from a substantial distance for a form or publication ... that they do not know how to access online.

Why does the library still acquire paper forms, isn’t everything online!?

Not everyone files their taxes online. Also, some people who do file online prefer to do the preparation on paper first, before going to the computer. Plus, most forms are available online, but not all.

What is your number one tip for people stressing out about their taxes? 

Take 5 and a half deep breaths. Then decide if you want to do your taxes yourself, or pay someone to prepare them.

Where can people get help with tax forms? 

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is here at the library, Tuesday and Thursday mornings, until close to the filing deadline on April 17. Call 376-2788 to make an appointment. Or, you can go to the IRS office at 5100 River Rroad in Schiller Park. They don't take appointments. It's best just to go there.

This information and more that pertains to income taxes is listed on the library's website. People looking for a particular form(s) or publication(s) can call the Reference Desk at 376-2841 to see if we carry it/them. I keep a hard copy list there.

Finally, I teach the Find Tax Forms Online course, to show patrons how to navigate the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Website (It's not impossible to do!) as well as that of the Illinois Department of Revenue.

Click here to sign up for the Find Tax Forms Online class on March 19th at 10 am.

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