This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, January 23, 1991

January 23, 1991 - Taxes and Tax Tip Workshops

It was a fine morning, flooded with that magnificent Colorado pre-dawn light. I was feeling pretty good. Then I walked through the library doors ... and there THEY were, figures from a nightmare, harbingers of the modern Inquisition.

Yes. Tax forms.

Read my lips. I don't like taxes. They're necessary, sure. Taxes buy most of this county's books, at all of its libraries, at all of its schools. Taxes pay my salary. In the abstract, I think taxes are swell.

But like most people, I despise working through incomprehensible forms whose only purpose is to separate me from as much of my money as is legally permissible - which, it turns out, can be more than I've made.

Not many people know that librarians have a special, even more twisted relationship with the IRS. To be blunt, we're their patsies.

A few years back, some IRS (Infernal Revenue Service) committee dreamed up a scheme that went like this: Let's make public libraries distribution points for tax forms! After all, libraries are supposed to be information centers.

And we fell for it. We didn't have to do it. In our naivete, we thought we would be providing a convenient new service to our patrons. We'd thought people would admire us for it.

Besides, we're used to forking over a lot of money for reference material. The IRS was going to give us thousands of the common tax forms for absolutely nothing. In a grand show of largess, they would even donate a master index to ALL the tax forms, and photo-reproducible copies of even the obscure ones. We were overwhelmed.

So all across the country, public libraries started putting out tax forms. Then the public found out about it. And then ...

Were they grateful? Did they fall to their knees before the altars of our circulation desks and cry, "Bless you! It's April 14 and NO ONE had this form! Paying taxes hurts, but it least some part of it may help support this wonderful institution!"

They were not. They did not. They tore us to pieces.

If someone had trouble filling out a form - and who doesn't? - WE got yelled at. People seemed to think that just because we had tax forms, we were tax experts. If we couldn't answer their most convoluted tax questions - even though we had received ABSOLUTELY NO TRAINING in tax laws - then WE got dumped on. People were mad at the IRS. But they took it out on us.

I'm a simple man. I just want to raise a couple of tax deductions in peace and maybe earn a nickel's worth of home equity before I die.

But I cannot tell a lie. We do have tax forms. You're welcome to them. But take it easy on the librarians, okay?

In the meantime, just because we just can't help trying to help people, even when it hurts, the library will sponsor free tax workshops for the public.

Here's the schedule:

Philip S. Miller: February 4, from 7-9 p.m.

Oakes Mill Library: February 21, from 7-9 p.m.

Parker: March 6, 7-9 p.m.

All you have to bring is yourself. Be there, and good luck.

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