Library leaders: Comment on the IRS Tax Form Program

Photo by John Morgan via Flickr

Photo by John Morgan via Flickr

Last week, the American Library Association (ALA) Washington Office hosted a conference call with several Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials to issues surrounding the distribution of the 2014 fiscal year tax forms and instruction publications to libraries. Nearly 100 library leaders participated in the call.

Patricia Evans, director of IRS distribution, began by apologizing for the poor communications about the changes the IRS intended to initiate to begin cutting back on paper publications. But when her staff tried to adjust available materials to send more forms and instruction publications to public libraries participating in the Tax Forms Outlet Program (TFOP), Congress cut their budget by $300 million. Now, there is less funding that can be used to distribute publications to libraries.

We need some volunteers to work with the IRS to make plans of how the TFOP program and publication distribution for libraries will work.

L’Tanya Brooks, director of Media and Publications and she asked librarians on the call what they would suggest the IRS do going forward. Many librarians shared their ideas of how they were addressing this issue; from printing forms themselves to putting an RFID tag on instruction booklets for use only as a research tool in the library, which would prevent patrons from taking the forms home.

Dietra Grant is the director of Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communication (SPEC) and she wants the IRS to do better going forward. She has asked Carol Quiller, IRS senior tax analyst, to manage a unique relationship with libraries. Quiller will work with librarians to decide how to best use the IRS’ dwindling resources. The leadership of the IRS is committed to moving all tax filers to file online.

Overall, we’ve been successful in making our case that the communication was insufficient and the IRS has agreed to listen to us and design their path forward with our advice. So now, we need some volunteers to work with the IRS to make plans of how the TFOP program and publication distribution for libraries will work.

If you’d like to become a library volunteer or provide feedback on the TFOP program, email Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the ALA Washington Office, at esheketoff@alawash.org.

About Emily Sheketoff

Emily Sheketoff is the former Associate Executive Director of the American Library Association's Washington Office.

4 comments

  1. I am a director of a library in suburban Detroit. 2014 has been a fiasco for tax information. The IRS has the gall not to supply instructions for their forms. When the public calls the IRS to get instructions they are told the libraries did not order the forms. The poor communication from the IRS started at the beginning of the Tax Season and continues.

  2. Denise, if you’d like to provide feedback on the TFOP program, email Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the ALA Washington Office, at esheketoff@alawash.org.

  3. Jennifer Manning

    An example of how important IRS services are to our patrons: Look at the new federal government web analytics page at https://analytics.usa.gov/ which shows which web sites are currently most visited.
    Right now, the most used executive branch website is the IRS refund site. Number 4 on the most visited list today is the IRS homepage.
    Right now over 7,000 people are using IRS websites.

  4. I appreciated the comments on the conference call last week. I believe we all feel the same way and they represented those of us who couldn’t make comments due to lack of time. We have several patrons who want to do their own taxes and have been coming to the library for years to get their forms with instruction booklets. This year we were not able to supply them the instruction booklets and they were highly disappointed, and do not under any circumstances want their taxes done online. They have always done their own and prefer to keep it that way. When the IRS did their major cutbacks without warning to the libraries that these were not available any longer, it created a problem and they thought it was our fault that these couldn’t be given. Some feedback from a few was that it didn’t even do any good to give them the 1-800 number because they couldn’t reach anyone to order one anyway. They felt lost. Please give us the instruction booklets if you are giving us the forms. We don’t have to have a large supply sent, but would like to have this resolved for the public’s use.

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