Tax forms can be one of the more trying parts of library service. One question I am frequently asked at the desk is “which form do I need?” Most librarians I know want to balk at giving tax advice. This is NOT tax advice, but rather guidance on forms. Remind patrons that they need to consult the IRS or a tax consultant. In all situations, I provide a contact number and even a local office address with IRS or any state treasury department that might be involved. Here are some quick questions to ask a patron to get them started on the right forms.
Did you own your own home? (A home can mean a mobile home, condo, co-op etc.)
Chances are you will be itemizing, and that means 1040 and the Schedules A and B.
Did you buy and or sell stocks or mutual funds or any other kind of investment?
If you did, that means you will also need Schedule D with your 1040.
Did you have a lot of medical expenses above and beyond what insurance covered?
This also might be an item for Schedule A and the regular 1040.
The 1040A and the 1040EZ are designed for cases of simple returns (none of the above type situations) and are for those who make less than $50,000 per year in income. 1040EZ is for those with only wages and interest and no tuition credit issues, or dependents. 1040A has a few more bells and whistles, but is still meant for uncomplicated financial situations. Most teenagers with part time jobs and are dependents on their parent’s return are candidates for 1040EZ.
State and local returns are also problematic. Partial year residents might have issues with other states. Here in southeastern Michigan, there are enough people that commute back and forth across the state and have residency and income in different states. Always look for language that addresses reciprocal tax arrangements.
Now after you have helped a grateful patron with their tax issues, you can remind them that there are tax benefits in giving to your local library. (See Holly Hibner's Blog on Tax forms and library service!)
Helpful links and phone numbers:
Michigan Department of Treasury: http://www.michigan.gov/treasury
Ohio Department of Taxation: http://tax.ohio.gov/
IRS website: http://www.irs.gov/IRS Telephone Assistance for Individuals:Toll-Free, 1-800-829-1040 Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. your local time (Alaska & Hawaii follow Pacific Time).