Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Groan, It's Tax Season Again...

We are all saying that. Which is worse, the winter weather we've been dealing with (or threatened with), or the period from January to April 15 when we know we just have to sit down and figure out what we owe the government? For some, that's a real toss-up. 

And this year is a bit more frustrating than past years. Just when everyone is expected to report their health insurance status on their income tax forms, the IRS has decided not to send out instruction books due to their budget cuts. So everyone wants to know, how are we supposed to file our taxes if we don't know how to fill out the forms?

The good news is, for many people it is free to file their federal income taxes using one of the many tax services available. More than 85% of people file their federal taxes online, either using a professional preparer's service or doing it themselves. If you don't have a computer at home, you can use the public computers at the Pottsville Library to file your taxes. (Just keep in mind that, legally, we cannot answer any tax questions for you. We can help you print, or set up an email account, but please don't ask us how to fill in specific lines on the tax forms.) Want to find a reputable online service? Visit the IRS web page at for a list of companies that offer free federal tax filing for adjusted gross incomes of $60,000 or less.

For people who prefer to use the paper forms, it can get a bit trickier. The Pottsville Library did receive the federal tax forms 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ, but we did NOT receive any of the instruction booklets or any of the additional schedules and forms. (Did you see our picture in the paper? Those were state tax forms in the photos, not federal. The photo caption didn't make that clear.) We can print off specific pages from the instruction books for you from the internet, although we don't recommend printing off the entire instruction book: at 10 cents a page, even the 1040EZ would cost you more than $4 to print. We have a copy of the tax table at the Circulation Desk (right inside the front door) and a copy of Publication 17 at the Reference Desk.

The alternative is to order an instruction book from the IRS. There is a telephone number to call, 1-800-829-3676, but be prepared to wait to get through. Or you can order copies online from and get them mailed to you within a week or two.

However you file your taxes, try not to wait until the last minute: it might be harder to find and get what you need to finish the job!

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