Tax Help


Tax season is right around the corner and most libraries offer tax forms.  However, not all library staff members are prepared to answer questions about these forms.  I have been doing some research to help you and your patrons get the right answers.

The IRS offers a comprehensive website with lots of information.  Unfortunately some of it is in tax-speak and is not always easy to understand.  Thankfully, the IRS also has a You Tube channel which explains many tax concepts in lay person’s terms. Use the following links to go to the IRS webpage and YouTube channel.

IRS: http://www.irs.gov/

IRS YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/irsvideos#p/a

The IRS website offers all tax forms and publications.  There are specific requirements to be met for each form so it is important to read the qualifications that are published. The publications also explain how to fill out each form.  E-filing is also available on the IRS website.  There are certain specifications for the various types of e-filing available, so again it is important to read this site carefully.

Forms and Publications: http://www.irs.gov/formspubs/index.html

E-File: http://www.irs.gov/efile/index.html

The IRS has also created lesson plans for teacher and information for students trying to better understand the United States Tax system.  The Teacher page includes 38 lesson plans with factsheets.  There is also a custom resource list and downloadable materials including PowerPoint presentations. The lesson plans are grouped into 6 themes and include the history of taxes, why we pay taxes.

The student tax site has activities and tutorials to instruct students, young and old, on taxes and how to file.  It is divided into two broad categories; the how’s of taxes and the why’s of taxes.

Understanding Taxes Teacher: http://www.irs.gov/app/understandingTaxes/teacher/index.jsp

Understanding Taxes Student: http://www.irs.gov/app/understandingTaxes/student/index.jsp

Besides the IRS site there are other websites that offer helpful tax information. For some extremely basic but helpful information, check out this link.

Tax Preparation for Beginners: http://learnthat.com/2000/03/tax-preparation-for-beginners/

Another really helpful website is the YouTube Channel for Harbor Financial.  They do a little advertising for their web page and Turbo Tax, but their short videos are extremely informative and easy to understand.

Harbor Financial YouTube Videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/HarborFinancial/videos?view=u

If you or someone you know has the time and ability to help others with their taxes and tax questions, please consider becoming a tax volunteer.  The IRS offers training for tax volunteers.  Your library can be a volunteer center.  The links below will help you get started.

Become a tax volunteer: http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=248201,00.html?portlet=108

Tax Volunteer Form: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f14310.pdf

Finally, if you are concerned about a tax audit, there is help available for that too. The IRS offers the Tax Advocate Service to be your voice in this area. They have an extensive webpage and a YouTube channel.

Taxpayer Advocate Service Website: http://www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/

Taxpayer Advocate Service You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/tasnta

 

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2 thoughts on “Tax Help

  1. When I worked at the public library, we were told (by our Director) that we were not allowed to answer questions about the forms. If someone asked what form they needed, we could refer them to the IRS website or the booklet with the “what form do I need” section. If someone needed us to get them a form, they had to know the name or number. She said it was a liability issue, since it could cause a number of problems for us and them if they file the wrong forms at our suggestion. When you were looking into this, did you come across any situations where libraries were involved in tax problems with patrons? Or did you see suggestions for librarians to make sure they are not at risk when helping patrons with tax (or other sensitive information)? I think many libraries would also find that helpful.

  2. Thanks for this information. I did not come across any information about how library staff can protect themselves with liability issues, however it is a good point to consider. Does anyone else out there have information to offer on this topic? How does your library direct patrons with tax questions?

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