Tax tips @ your library


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By Steve Zalusky

Everyone looks forward to March, right? The promise of spring. March Madness. Spring training.

All except for one thing. We have to get those pesky income taxes done. Fortunately, libraries are taking some of the sting out of tax season by providing valuable assistance, as well as computer resources, especially for their older residents.

This year, taxes must be filed by Tuesday, April 17, 2012. April 15 falls on a Sunday and April 16 is a federal holiday in Washington, D.C.

The Pioneer Library System in Norman, Okla. is one system that offers a variety of resources. On its website alone are links to downloadable state tax forms, as well as links to federal forms.

Libraries are particularly helpful to seniors seeking tax information, often in partnership with American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). 

Through April 11 at the Zion-Benton Public Library of Zion, Ill., as part of AARP's Tax Aide program, AARP volunteers are available to provide free tax assistance on Wednesdays

The purpose is twofold, said Library Director Nann Blaine Hilyard. "We we are always looking for ways to work with community partners, which means any kind of organization, including AARP. And we are also looking or ways to build traffic to the library. So the volunteer tax program is a very nice partnership that we have."

It certainly has accomplished the goal of building traffic. So much so that the library provides a phone mail box for reservations.

"The people that you see in our tax aid program are usually older, and there is just a level of anxiety about getting their taxes done and getting them done on time," Hilyard said. "So we set up the appointment system, so that we’re able to piece things through and individuals know this is the day they are supposed to come. And the tax aid preparer will be there for you.

In addition, the library connects area seniors and residents with disabilities in with state grants that help reduce the impact of taxes and medical expenses.

Hilyard said the library provides general assistance as well with pointing patrons toward tax resources. "Our adult services staff will also assist people with locating individual forms online that we might not have copies of. They are, of course, able to use our computers to get those forms and print them out."

The library, which serves three municipalities and two townships, is the place to go for area residents looking for wifi, so people can download copies of tax forms, for both Illinois and Wisconsin, as well as the federal forms. 

Throughout the country, libraries and AARP volunteers are partnering to provide seniors with assistance during tax season. 

According to an article at StatesmanJournal.com, the Stayton (Ore.) Public Library participates in the AARP Foundation's Tax-Aide program.

In the article, one library patron, Carol Oei, said she has been getting help from Tax-Aide volunteers for several years.

"They've been doing my taxes for a few years now and it helps me quite a bit," Oei said. "I heard it was available in Stayton and it's more convenient for me. I'd rather go into Stayton."

Throughout the country, libraries are offering not only seniors, but members of the general public invaluable resources relating to taxes.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, as well as other neighborhood libraries in the Washington, D.C. Public Library system, offers free tax assistance through April 17. 

According to the website, help is generally provided to individuals with incomes below $35,000 and families with incomes below $45,000.

On their websites, libraries are offering a number of online resources, including:

Federal Tax Forms and Publications

Tax Information for Individuals

State Forms for All 50 States

You can find forms and additional information that will make the process less taxing @ your library.

 

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