Taxing Times @ your library

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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.

The due date for filing has been extended to April 18, but libraries are way ahead of the game in helping out taxpayers, seniors in particular.

Every Wednesday through April 13, the Zion-Benton Public Library of Zion, Ill., in conjunction with AARP’s Tax Aide program, offers residents the opportunity to meet with an AARP volunteer as part of the library's “Tax Time @ your library” program. AARP volunteers assist residents in filing federal and state taxes and are on hand to answer tax-related questions.

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. 

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

At the Boerne (Texas) Public Library, AARP volunteers provides free tax assistance to anyone who files a return, regardless of income or age restrictions. Volunteers prepare tax returns and file them electronically. According to an article in the Boerne Star, last year, nearly 550 people took advantage of the service. The article also notes the extent to which volunteers are providing assistance. In 2009, it states, about 34,600 volunteers provided free tax preparation assistance to more than 2.6 million people across the country, citing AARP's 2009 Annual Report.

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

“Tax information @ your library,” is a free, Web-based tax resource center through the Pioneer Library System of Norman, Okla. Its website offers a comprehensive guide to libraries and other local organizations that are working with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) and AARP Tax Aide to provide residents with free access to experts.

And the San Antonio Public Library is assisting its patrons on a variety of levels with its “Taxes @ your library” website. The library provides access to downloadable forms, along with lists of books to help library users file personal and small business taxes. The library is also participating in the VITA program and will host tax preparation sessions at several branches libraries through April 18.

The Albany County (Wyo.) Public Library offers “Get your taxes filed free by trained tax preparer$ @ your library.” Area residents with a total income of $55,000 or less can consult with trained tax professionals at the main library and select branch locations.

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.


Photo credit: agrilifetoday



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