Tax Form Delays Create Frustration at Area Libraries

People are getting frustrated about their tax returns, but not for the usual reasons.

As a courtesy, branches of the Great River Regional Library (GRRL) system distribute state and federal tax forms. This year some people are getting frustrated with library staff because the income tax forms they want are unavailable due to factors mostly outside the library’s control.

GRRL ordered its supply of tax forms from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in October 2010. Delivery was delayed after Congress extended the Bush tax cuts in December and forms had to be revised. The first order arrived in January and the library quickly ran out and had to reorder. The reorder has not yet arrived. In addition, a binder of those forms not used by most people but available for copying did not arrive at the library until mid-February.

Because of the high numbers of individuals who now file their taxes online, the IRS decided not to mail tax booklets to the general public in 2011. Those individuals who had previously used forms received in the mail have been forced to find other sources such as libraries. GRRL staff anticipated an increase in demand, said GRRL Distribution Supervisor Susan Pekarek, responsible for obtaining the forms and delivering them to all 32 GRRL locations. “We adjusted our order to allow for that change, but we raced through them.”

Libraries are not obliged to provide tax forms, and GRRL has discussed discontinuing the service because it is time-consuming and costly. The public often ask staff to provide assistance on which forms to fill in or even on how to fill them in, but librarians are not qualified to provide that assistance.

GRRL is working hard to provide the forms and information people need to complete their filing requirements. Residents can access forms online and at IRS taxpayer assistance centers, or they may use library Internet stations to access tax sites in order to print forms. The standard copy charge of 10 cents per page is applied. GRRL has also highlighted a link for tax information on its website, www.griver.org, including links to the IRS and Minnesota Revenue.

The official online source of IRS tax products is the IRS forms and publications resource page at www.irs.gov/formspubs/index/html.