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Looking for a 1040? They're trickling in to libraries

‘Fiscal cliff’ logjam delayed printing

Friday, February 15, 2013
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Dave Cherry of Halfmoon looks over tax forms on display at the Clfton Park-Halfmoon Library on Friday.
Dave Cherry of Halfmoon looks over tax forms on display at the Clfton Park-Halfmoon Library on Friday.

— The Internal Revenue Service wants everyone to pay their taxes on time but this year some IRS forms and instruction booklets are hard to find.

“People are not happy,” said Mary Ann Warner, the adult services coordinator at Schenectady County Public Library.

Many of the forms have been slow in arriving at libraries because Congress didn’t enact the American Taxpayer Relief Act, and avert the “fiscal cliff,” until Jan. 2. This pushed back the printing and distribution of the new tax codes, forms and tables.

A major missing item is the instruction booklet for the IRS 1040 tax form. Warner said this booklet has the new tax tables in it so people can figure how much they owe the government or how much money they will get back.

“We have some of our people look certain things up,” Warner said about the staff at the Schenectady library. They go to the IRS website and print out the forms or information for library patrons.

“We tell our customers that as soon as the forms get here, we put them out,” said Kathy Adam, assistant director for public services at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library on Moe Road in Clifton Park.

“They come in waves,” she said about the forms. “We keep people posted about what’s available.”

The library keeps the IRS forms near the front entrance. “Whatever has come in is out there,” she said.

Dianne Besunder, an IRS spokeswoman, said the 1040 instruction booklet is just becoming available in the printed form but the instructions and most tax forms have been available on the IRS website (www.irs.gov) for weeks.

She said the IRS announced there would be delays in some of the documents because the tax legislation was passed by Congress at such a late date.

“We anticipated the delay,” she said.

People can call the IRS at 1-800-829-3676 and order forms to be mailed to them. “It takes 10 days,” Besunder said.

Up until about four years ago, the IRS sent the 1040 forms and instruction booklet to each taxpayer’s residence. But fewer people are using paper forms, so the IRS stopped the mass mailings.

“Over 80 percent of taxpayers filed electronically last year, including 8 million New Yorkers,” Besunder said. “Electronic filing is good for the taxpayer and good for the Internal Revenue Service,” she added, noting that the electronic filing programs catch filing errors before the return is actually submitted via computer. “There is a much lower error rate.”

People whose income is under $57,000 can use an IRS filing program that takes them through the process step-by-step. Those making more than $57,000 can still file free electronically but there is no “interview” process, Besunder said.

There are also Volunteer Income Tax Assistance locations throughout the Capital Region where low- to moderate-income people can have their taxes done free of charge by volunteers trained by the IRS. The AARP also has free tax preparation services available for senior citizens at sites across the region.

At the Amsterdam Free Library, some of the forms are starting to come in, said library director Nicole Hemsley.

“It’s taking a really long time for us to get them,” she said. “They come in batches and we are doing pretty well right now.”

Hemsley said the library gets 30 to 40 phone calls every day from people asking if the instruction booklet for the IRS form 1040 has arrived.

At the Schenectady County Public Library there has been a reduced demand in recent years for the paper tax forms as more and more people file their taxes electronically.

Warner said the demand for paper tax forms and associated materials dropped by half in each of the past few years.

 
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