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Written by Jimmie Epling   

It’s Tax Time Again…What Will You Do?

By Jimmie Epling

Albert Einstein once said, “The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.”  At the Darlington County Library System, we suspect he was on to something.  The Gettysburg address is 269 words, the Declaration of Independence is 1,337 words, and the Bible is 773,000 words (all of which are available at the Library).  By contrast, the Federal tax law has grown from 11,400 words in 1913 to 7 million words today.  The Federal tax law begins with the Internal Revenue Code (IRC, Title 26 of the United States Code).  This is followed by the IRC Treasury regulations, a.k.a. the Federal tax regulations, which provide the official interpretation of the IRC by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.  All of which are available at the Library online (http://www.irs.gov/Tax-Professionals/Tax-Code,-Regulations-and-Official-Guidance).  Just as in years gone by, January began with people visiting and calling the Library every day looking for tax forms so that they may comply with the law. 

Some of you may remember a time when the annual ritual of getting your tax forms began at the Post Office.  The Post Office gave up stocking the forms many years ago and passed it on to public libraries to be the source for tax forms.  Libraries saw it as another service we could provide.  Every December, boxes upon boxes of forms and instructions for both the Federal and state taxes arrived by tractor trailer truck.  We would set up racks and tables each year so you could get your forms the day after the New Year’s holiday.  Those days are gone.  The IRS didn’t start shipping any forms to libraries this year until January 23rd.     

This year, due to Federal budget cuts the IRS will not be printing and mailing forms and instructions as they have in the past.  One can only imagine the work required to print and send out 8 billion pages of forms and instructions.  Think of the nearly 300,000 trees had to be cut down to produce all the paper for those IRS forms and instructions.  If laid end to end, those pages would stretch 28 times around the earth.  It would be safe to say that adding in all the state tax forms those numbers would be nearly double.  That’s a lot of paper and ink!  For this reason, the annual bulk shipment of tax forms to public libraries is about dead.   

Two years ago, the State of South Carolina informed public libraries it would no longer ship printed forms and instructions.  Two weeks ago, the IRS unexpectedly informed us that they will be sending only the 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ Federal forms, but not their instructions.  Where can you go now for both South Carolina and Federal government tax forms in Darlington County?  We know the Library is the only source for paper copies of tax forms and instructions for many.  And just as we have always done, we will work with those who visit the Library to get them the forms and instructions they need for little or no cost.

So how will the Library help those needing tax forms and instructions?  Those in need are already using our public computers to find and print out the necessary documents for taxes.  Some are even completing filing their forms online for filing.  The Library staff will guide you in how to access these online sites.  We have even gone so as to put a “Tax Forms” link on the Library’s internet homepage, www.darlington-lib.org, to make it easy for you to go to the Federal website at www.irs.gov, South Carolina’s website at www.SCtax.org, and the websites of other states. 

Those needing Federal forms 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ will find them soon at the Library.  We hope to have our supply of printed forms available shortly after you read this column. You may call us and ask if we have received them before making the trip if you would like.  If you cannot wait for our forms to arrive and would like the instructions as well, you can call the IRS at 1-800-829-3676 to have them sent to you.

The Women’s Institute for Financial Education (WIFE.org), the oldest non-profit organization dedicated to providing financial education to women in their quest for financial independence, noted American taxpayers spend over $200 billion and 5.4 billion hours working to comply with federal taxes each year.  That is more than it takes to produce every car, truck, and van in the United States.  If you need assistance in completing a tax return, as apparently 60% of us do, the Library’s staff cannot advise you, but we have arranged for professional help.

SCThrive is sending one representative to the Library for one-on-one assistance with your forms.  This expert will electronically file your return for you at the end of the session.  The Benefit Bank/SCThrive is a free and secure tax filing service for those making $65,000 or less (or $95,000 or less if you are filing jointly).  You can file your Federal and state taxes for free through their website.  In order to take advantage of this program, you will need the following information with you to complete the forms:

 

  •          government issued ID
  •          social security number(s)
  •          w2's
  •          1099's, and/or 1098's
  •          last year's tax return (if available)
  •          information about other income
  •          deductions and credit information

 

SCThrive’s tax assistance will be available at all four Library locations in February and March by appointment only on the following schedule:

 

  • February 17th                       Tuesday                    Darlington
  • February 18th                       Wednesday               Lamar
  • February 19th                       Thursday                   Hartsville
  • February 20th                       Friday                         Society Hill
  • March 17th                            Tuesday                     Darlington
  • March 18th                            Wednesday               Lamar
  • March 19th                            Thursday                   Hartsville
  • March 20th                            Friday                         Society Hill

 

 

Appointments can be made through the Reference/Information desk at the Library branch of your choice by stopping in or calling. 

A few years after Einstein commented on income taxes, Nat King Cole echoed the same sentiment with, “There's just one thing I can't figure out.  My income tax!”  While the Darlington County Library System can’t figure your income taxes for you as the April 15th deadline draws ever closer with each passing day, we can, as we have always done, help you get the forms and instructions you need and arrange for some free professional help.   

January 26, 2015 

Last Updated ( Thursday, 31 December 2015 )
 
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