You may think (rather naively, in my opinion), that the only individuals who must know the answers to tax questions are those who work in accounting firms. Now, I will not deny that people who work at H&R Block are inundated with frantic, harried tax-payers a week before April 15. But I do think that those of us who work at public libraries deserve at least a little credit for the services we provide.
Public libraries are often the only places in a community where free tax forms are located, so you can bet that it's rather difficult to keep the forms stocked. I've spent many an hour standing at the copier, watching it churn out a hundred copies of the 1040A, one page at a time. Of course, we do have binders full of forms that patrons can copy on their own dime and nickle, but would you pay for something when you could get it for free? Exactly.
People also expect us to be their one-on-one tax experts. I've lost track of the number of times I've been asked to do someone's taxes for them. And that's just this year! Once I explain that, even if I was willing to do someone else's taxes for them, it is against library policy for me to do so, people act personally affronted! Well, I'm sorry, but I know darn well that if something was done incorrectly on your taxes, you would be more than willing to hunt me down and put my head on a platter; I'm not stupid. But, I am more than happy to provide you with phone numbers to area agencies that will be delighted to help you.
And of course, this year, with the economic stimulus rebates pending, the number of tax form hunters has increased exponentially. Because many of the people who qualify for the rebate (those on social security and disability) have not had to file taxes in years (and in some cases, many have never needed to file), a whole new ballgame of confusion has emerged. Even when provided with correct information, people still adamantly insist that they need form "1048" instead of the correct 1040A. I argued with a woman over the span of two days about that one.
April 15 is approaching quickly, but I know better than to let myself become complacent. All too soon the questions of "Where's my check?!", "What do you mean I had to file my taxes to get the refund?!", and "Why did I only get this amount of money?!" will start and everything will begin anew. Because, you see, of course the library controls when, how, and why you get your refund check
For more information about the economic stimulus refund, please check out this informative FAQ from the Internal Revenue Service website. See? Librarians never want to stop shoving information down your throats!