Tax Season: Who Needs It?


If you have spent more than five consecutive minutes at the reference desk in your local library from January 1st to April 15th (and beyond…seriously!?), you probably have been asked for tax forms.  In an increasingly paperless world, it seems as though people have decided tax forms, along with birth certificates, death certificates, and wills, are better off in paper form.  Unfortunately, the government does not share the same sentiment.  For the past few years, they have cut the amount of forms and information they send to libraries, and tell us, “It’s all on our website!”.

To be fair, I think this is a wonderful idea.  It is eco-friendly and cost effective, two things that our government hasn’t exactly excelled at in recent years.  But since the library has been decentralized as the Mecca of the tax-world, and nobody seems to know it yet, the library still gets a numerous amount of tax-season-only patrons each year, which has prompted me to write a few short descriptions.

1. The “Are you serious?” patron. These folks are easy to spot, as they have an astonished, mystified look on their face after you tell them, “The 1040 is online, I’ll get you to the website”.  They usually respond with, you guessed it, “Are you serious?”, only to continue on to a lengthy harangue about how the library is supposed to be place for these things, and if we don’t have tax forms, what good are we.  Instead of pointing to the thousands of books and other forms of entertainment and enlightenment the library provides, I usually just brush it off; we won’t be seeing them until next tax season.

2. The “January 1st” patron. These go-getters like to start their taxes when you are still struggling to get the cork off your champagne bottle at midnight.  I’d love to know how they get their W-4s so quickly.  But they inevitably come in the first day of the New Year asking for tax forms.  Of course, most libraries don’t have them ready at this point, and most humans (excluding accountants) have yet to even realize that it is tax season.  They often provide you with the rude awakening that your fun days of referencing are over.

3. The “April 15th” patron. I hate to inform you, misguided taxpayer, but even though your tax world is crashing around you, my world is just fine, and I will be damned if I am going to get sucked down with you.  These folks are easy to spot because they will have their paperwork sprawled out over an entire eight-person desk, a nervous look on their face, and one of those little, see-through green hats.  The will also come to you with extremely obscure questions regarding the relative prices of things they might have bought in the previous year, for instance: “I need the average cost of copper wire per pound from February of ’09.” They will also frequently come up to you with their forms and say, “This will probably be good enough, right?”

4. The “April 16th” patron. They come during the second half of April and are usually so frazzled and sure of their impending IRS beat down that they don’t even ask for help, they just cry into their garbage bag of receipts.

5. The “I can’t believe you just asked a tax form question, it’s like July dude!” patron. About once a year, you get someone that comes in and says, “I know it’s late, but can I get a 1040”…and it’s the middle of the summer!  These folks are my favorite, because they truly believe that “better late than never” applies to the important things in life, not just thank you notes and changing your oil.

6. The “How much am I going to get back?” patron.

Patron:”Excuse me, librarian, can you tell me how much I am going to get back?”

Librarian: “336.”

Patron: “That’s it?!”

Librarian: “First aisle on your left, section 336.”

7. The “Form 1596, Section 2A, Appendix R54, Addendum 27” patron. This is my least favorite tax season patron, but unfortunately, it is also the patron that I get the most.  They want an extremely specific form and they want me to know everything that is on it.  I hate to break the news to you, but I don’t know the tax benefits of raising an endangered dolphin in your above ground swimming pool or how to write-off your gambling debts as donations to the city of Las Vegas.

8.  The “What good are taxes!?” patrons. They are usually more grizzled than your average patron, and after you find the form they are looking for, they make a comment such as, “Taxes, what good are they!?” Other than the library you are standing in, the lights that power it, the roads you took to get here, and the schools that taught you to read, taxes are just a waste!

Well, with all these patrons giving you grief this glorious tax season, I wish you good luck!  And for you older librarians, I give you credit for all the days you put in when the library was the go-to place for tax information.  I’m sure you could add a few hundred different descriptions to this list.

6 Responses to “Tax Season: Who Needs It?”

  1. I think you got ’em all except one, the “Back to the Future” patron who has just decided that it’s time to file taxes for the last few years all at once and wants all the relevant forms dating back to 2001!

  2. jolie post , merci pour l’info

  3. 3 jessica

    I laughed and laughed. I can realte..

  4. The “What Form Should I Use for…” patron.
    Look buddy. I am glad your consulting business is going well, but I have no idea what version of the 1040 will celebrate your small business’s achievements. I don’t know if you have to file or not if your husband just died. I certainly don’t know whether you should use an accountant or turbotax. I know I am behind a desk, but I don’t have all the answers. I promise to get you to the IRS website, from there, you are on your own.

  5. I can relate about the patrons that want you to know how the tax code works. I can try and help them by searching for information best I can as that is my job after all. Some of these patrons really expect you to know in depth information though.

  1. 1 Best of PubLib 01.31.10 « Best of Publib


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