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Many who file their taxes on paper in Michigan have a hard time finding the forms

Feb 26, 2015

Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

People heading to the library to pick up paper copies of federal tax forms are disappointed to find many of them aren’t there this year.

The IRS is saving money by sending libraries only the most common forms on paper. You can find tax forms online and e-file or print them at the library. But the instruction book is more than 100 pages long.

The booklet would cost $15 to print at the Southfield Public Library.

“In the past we might have said ‘oh we’re not going to charge you.’ But knowing how many people are going to need these, we just decided we can’t. We can’t foot that bill for everyone,” Dave Ewick, the city librarian said.

“The thing that really bothers me is this legislative change hurts the people at the bottom end of the economic barrel,” Ewick said.

“It’s the person who’s running on a shoestring budget, comes in the library, maybe he’s elderly, it may be just someone who's not tax savvy and doesn’t have the money to pay a preparer. Those are the folks who I really worry will be hurt most,” he said.

He said many don’t want to file online because they’re unfamiliar with computers. Others say they worry about their privacy.

Ewick says it's time-consuming for librarians to help people figure out how to file their taxes.

“They say, ‘I used to be able to get forms at the bank, at the post office. You guys are the only place that has them, and now you don’t even have them!’ It’s just – I think the worst part is that we were given no preparation,” Ewick said. Libraries found out about the budget cut in January.

“It’s very, very frustrating for library staff as the sole provider of paper forms” Gail Madziar, executive director of the Michigan Library Association said. Madziar says librarians across the state are fielding the same questions.