Important 2015 Tax Prep Notice

January 23, 2015

For over thirty years, the Akron-Summit County Public Library has been proud to assist the IRS and the State of Ohio during tax season, serving as a distribution point for tax forms and publications. Due to recent federal budget cuts, however, the IRS is no longer providing instruction booklets and most tax forms to public libraries. (Only the Federal 1040, 1040-A, and 1040-EZ forms will be provided.) Additionally, the State of Ohio will also be sending a greatly reduced supply of state tax forms.

We will continue to assist you in locating tax materials on the IRS website or in a notebook of reproducible forms that will be available at all ASCPL locations. (Copies or computer printouts cost five cents per page.)

For more information about tax assistance and filing, please visit the links below:

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s tax season! Either you love it or hate it.  Here are some dates to keep in mind as you prepare to file your taxes for 2014:

January 5, 2015 is the first day that the IRS will have most, if not all, of the forms needed to file individually.  Many companies open up their e-filing on this date too.

January 23, 2015 is the date that the IRS will start accepting returns and also when their e-filing begins.

January 31, 2015 is the employer deadline for mailing out your W-2s.  This is simply a postmark date not a “receive by” date.  Check with your company to see if you are able to view yours online (usually the same website that allows you to view your checks). This is the same date that the state will mail their 1099-G for those on unemployment income.

April 15, 2015 is the day! Hopefully you have finished all your forms.  Your forms must be postmarked before midnight in order to be considered on time by the IRS.  However, you are able to file up to three years later with no late fees. It is technically the deadline to have already filed and paid to avoid late fees.  This deadline does not apply if you are anticipating a refund.

October 15, 2015 is the date that is given to those who have petitioned for an extension to file their taxes.  This is the absolute last date to file and pay any fees owed.

If you are filing taxes yourself, the library has a limited amount of books to help you file for 2014.  We do have some tax forms however it is first-come first-serve and are extremely limited. Keep in mind that as much as the library wants to help its patrons we are not tax experts and are unable to help you fill out your taxes.

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Register Now For Grantseeking Workshops at Main Library

The following programs will be held in the Main Library auditorium.

PROPOSAL WRITING AND BUDGETING BASICS

Proposal writing is easier than you may think. This seminar is geared toward the novice grantseeker and will provide a solid foundation for writing a successful  grant.

In this session, you will learn:

  • How to gather information to make a case for support
  • Tips for writing and structure
  • How to prepare and present a budget
  • How to determine the perfect request amount in relation to what you expect to accomplish

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM

Click HERE to register.

YOUR BOARD AND FUNDRAISING

This class helps you think through the process of getting your board involved with fundraising.

What we will cover:

  • The role of your board
  • Why board members may be reluctant to fundraise and how to overcome these concerns
  • Ways the board can participate in fundraising activities
  • Tips for strengthening your fundraising board

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM

Click HERE to register.

INTRODUCTION TO CORPORATE GIVING

Join us for an introduction to the world of corporate support for nonprofits and funding research tools to help you identify corporate prospects.

We’ll answer such questions as:

  • Why do companies give and why might they give to my nonprofit?
  • What do companies give and how do they do it?
  • How do I determine if my organization is ready to seek corporate contributions?
  • How can I match my organization’s needs with the interests of a corporation?
  • How can I use the Foundation Center’s resources to locate corporate funders?
  • How do I approach a potential corporate supporter?

We will include a case study illustrating a corporate-nonprofit partnership.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM

Click HERE to register.

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Government Document Goodies

Come up to Business and Government on the 3rd floor of Main Library and allow us to show you our Government Documents Collection.  Some are rather old and dusty, composed of tables documenting statistics and trends which no one seems to show an interest in.  Then, there are the publications which we wish people would take notice of. Recent examples are two series of booklets published by the U.S. Army Center of Military History The U.S. Army Campaigns of the Civil War Commemorative Brochures are perfect for the history buff or Civil War sightseer.  These “brochures” are booklets of 50 to 75 pages in length.  They are bright and attractive, with wonderful portraits and illustrations, and clearly rendered maps.  They are concisely written by well-established military historians.  A few of the titles in this series are The Civil War in the Western Theatre, The Shenadoah Valley Campaign, and The Vicksburg Campaign.  As a depository library, we have booklets available for checkout.  They are also available for download to read online or to print off.  (http://www.history.army.mil/html/bookshelves/collect/cwcb.html)

Another historically timely collection is the U.S. Army Campaigns of the War of 1812 Series.  Like the Civil War booklets, these are attractive, well-written, and concise.  Once again, we have some copies available to take out, or they are available online.  (http://www.history.army.mil/html/bookshelves/collect/wo1812-bseries.html)

The Center of Military History website is full of treasures readily accessible to history lovers. Visit this website at http://www.history.army.mil/ for these and other publications.

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Top Four Year-End IRA Reminders

Individual Retirement Accounts are an important way to save for retirement. If you have an IRA or may open one soon, there are some key year-end rules that you should know. Here are the top four reminders on IRAs from the IRS:

1. Know the limits.  You can contribute up to a maximum of $5,500 ($6,500 if you are age 50 or older) to a traditional or Roth IRA. If you file a joint return, you and your spouse can each contribute to an IRA even if only one of you has taxable compensation. In some cases, you may need to reduce your deduction for traditional IRA contributions. This rule applies if you or your spouse has a retirement plan at work and your income is above a certain level. You have until April 15, 2015, to make an IRA contribution for 2014.

2. Avoid excess contributions.  If you contribute more than the IRA limits for 2014, you are subject to a six percent tax on the excess amount. The tax applies each year that the excess amounts remain in your account. You can avoid the tax if you withdraw the excess amounts from your account by the due date of your 2014 tax return (including extensions).

3. Take required distributions.  If you’re at least age 70½, you must take a required minimum distribution, or RMD, from your traditional IRA. You are not required to take a RMD from your Roth IRA. You normally must take your RMD by Dec. 31, 2014. That deadline is April 1, 2015, if you turned 70½ in 2014. If you have more than one traditional IRA, you figure the RMD separately for each IRA. However, you can withdraw the total amount from one or more of them. If you don’t take your RMD on time you face a 50 percent excise tax on the RMD amount you failed to take out.

4. Claim the saver’s credit.  The formal name of the saver’s credit is the retirement savings contributions credit. You may qualify for this credit if you contribute to an IRA or retirement plan. The saver’s credit can increase your refund or reduce the tax you owe. The maximum credit is $1,000, or $2,000 for married couples. The credit you receive is often much less, due in part because of the deductions and other credits you may claim.

 

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Need some help with starting your business?

We are very happy to be host to speaker Monique Cox-Moore from the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office and her program entitled “Making Yourself Legal.” She will talk about the services available through the SOS website which includes filing online forms, name availability searches and so much more.  The program will be offered at Main Library the second Tuesday of every month from January through April and the times will be staggered so that everyone has a chance to attend.  The dates are posted below:

 

January 13th   10am – noon

February 10th 5:30pm – 7:30pm

March 10th     10am – noon

April 14th        5:30pm – 7:30pm

 

Main Library – First floor

Computer Lab

 

Take advantage of this opportunity to get your business established correctly and legally right from the start.  For any questions please call the Business & Government Division at the Akron-Summit County Public Library, 330-643-9020.

 

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Get Ready for Your Court Date

Going to court can be a daunting task.  Courthouses and judges can be intimidating especially if you are not prepared.  Courthouses have regulations and rules that may not be known to the general public, especially if you have never been to court before.  Some general guidelines about dress code, appropriate behavior in the court house, and what is permitted inside can be found at each courthouse website.  Here are some popular regulations that a lot of courts adhere to: Dress code is key to making a first impression keep this in mind as you select your court day outfit.  Many courts do not allow flip flops or shorts and expect professional attire.  Babysitters are hard to find especially during the day when most cases are heard.  While children are sometimes allowed in the courtroom they must be kept quiet and still.  Many courts will ask for you to leave if your child is disruptive.  Call the courthouse to be sure that you can bring your child along as some courts do not allow children at all.  Once court has started, stay seated until your case is called.  Constantly getting up and down and leaving the courtroom serves as a distraction and may give off the wrong impression.  No pets or weapons are ever allowed in a courtroom (with the exception of a guide dog).   You can browse the rules and regulations of different courts in the country at www.ncsc.org.

 

Here are some tips for having a smooth court day:

-Make sure you know the right date and time of your appointment

-Know where you need to be (think about what building and room you have to be in)

-Give yourself plenty of time to park, walk, and get into the court room

-Have any documents you may have ready and in order (clean and wrinkle-free copies are best)

-Dress professionally (jeans and t-shirts should be avoided)

-Be aware of why you are going to the courthouse (be familiar with what you are charged with)

-Turn your cell phone off or leave it at home

 

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AtoZ For Addresses, Telephone Numbers and More

The Akron-Summit County Public Library has many useful and interesting databases.  One of those is AtoZdatabases. AtoZ is basically an electronic phone book plus much more.  Searches for residential and business telephone numbers and addresses are the most basic thing to conduct. Even with that, each search result comes with an extra layer of information such as estimated home value and household income for residential addresses, as well as, profiles for businesses that include key contact and industry information.  You can also search by address and phone number for a single result or business type, city, county, etc. in order to build lists for mailing and sales.

The database also features a job search module that included tips and resume templates.  Also included is a basic background check interface which will display criminal court records, current and past addresses plus more.

AtoZ history via their website:

In 1972, Vin Gupta founded American Business Lists, which became InfoUSA and later Infogroup. Over 37 yrs, he created the largest database company in the U.S. In 2008, he left the CEO position. In 2010, the company was sold. He went on to create AtoZdatabases and brought together his core leadership team to build an even better company than before.

No matter what your searching needs are, check out AtoZdatabases either in the Akron-Summit County Public Library or remotely with your library card from the main website or Business & Government Division blog.

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Six IRS Tips for Year-End Gifts to Charity

Many people give to charity each year during the holiday season. Remember, if you want to claim a tax deduction for your gifts, you must itemize your deductions. There are several tax rules that you should know about before you give. Here are six tips from the IRS that you should keep in mind:

1. Qualified charities. You can only deduct gifts you give to qualified charities. Use the IRS Select Check tool to see if the group you give to is qualified. Remember that you can deduct donations you give to churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and government agencies. This is true even if Select Check does not list them in its database.

2. Monetary donations.  Gifts of money include those made in cash or by check, electronic funds transfer, credit card and payroll deduction. You must have a bank record or a written statement from the charity to deduct any gift of money on your tax return. This is true regardless of the amount of the gift. The statement must show the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution. Bank records include canceled checks, or bank, credit union and credit card statements. If you give by payroll deductions, you should retain a pay stub, a Form W-2 wage statement or other document from your employer. It must show the total amount withheld for charity, along with the pledge card showing the name of the charity.

3. Household goods.  Household items include furniture, furnishings, electronics, appliances and linens. If you donate clothing and household items to charity they generally must be in at least good used condition to claim a tax deduction. If you claim a deduction of over $500 for an item it doesn’t have to meet this standard if you include a qualified appraisal of the item with your tax return.

4. Records required.  You must get an acknowledgment from a charity for each deductible donation (either money or property) of $250 or more. Additional rules apply to the statement for gifts of that amount. This statement is in addition to the records required for deducting cash gifts. However, one statement with all of the required information may meet both requirements.

5. Year-end gifts.  You can deduct contributions in the year you make them. If you charge your gift to a credit card before the end of the year it will count for 2014. This is true even if you don’t pay the credit card bill until 2015. Also, a check will count for 2014 as long as you mail it in 2014.

6. Special rules.  Special rules apply if you give a car, boat or airplane to charity. For more information visit IRS.gov.

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It’s that time of year….Scammertime.

You may get someone calling you claiming they’re from the IRS and you owe money.

You may be told you’re a big winner of a large cash prize, just send in a check first.

You may even be told that your grandchild is in dire need of cash RIGHT NOW!

Please take your time and research any calls, emails, texts, or letters that ask you for your money or personal information.  We all think we are too smart to fall for scams, but more often than not we are wrong.  Feel free to call the library and inquire about the company or phone number.  You might also consider contacting the Summit County Consumer Affairs office at 330-643-2879 for advice or to report fraud.

Here are some websites, links and articles that discuss scams, phishing and i.d. theft.

https://consumeraffairs.summitoh.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7&Itemid=14

http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Warns-of-Pervasive-Telephone-Scam

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts

https://www.verizon.com/pages/securityalerts/

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