NEWS FROM AROUND THE STATE
DECEMBER 1999

Table of Contents

  1. Efiling @ the Library
  2. Michigan Charity Registry Coming Soon?


(1) Efiling @ the Library
1999 MLA Annual Conference Report

Librarians, government officials and industry representatives met at the Michigan Library Association Annual Conference on Thursday, November 4, to discuss issues surrounding electronic filing of federal and state tax returns at libraries. Speakers included Therese Leszcz, Electronic Tax Administration Coordinator, IRS, Carolyn French, Michigan Department of Treasury Tax Division, and Whitney MacDougall, Government Programs Director, Intuit Corporation. Intuit is the sponsor of the Turbotax web site that offers free online filing to low-income taxpayers.

The workshop was the result of several posting to Michlib-L detailing problems that libraries experienced during the past tax-filing season. These problems included:

Many other issues were raised on Michlib-L and at the conference workshop including lack of printed guides to accompany the Turbotax software; no money, equipment or technical assistance from the IRS or Intuit to libraries to support the program despite promoting "go to the library and file your return" in commercials and online; patrons were inadequately prepared to complete the returns online, they did not have necessary records or knowledge of tax forms.

Ms. Therese Leszcz of the IRS worked closely with MEL to make sure these concerns were raised to both the IRS and Intuit prior to the conference so that the IRS and Intuit would be prepared to discuss solutions at the workshop. Using her contacts and visibility at the IRS, she was instrumental in tracking down the most knowledgeable people at Intuit and convincing them to send the Director of Government Programs in California to the conference. After reviewing the issues briefly, she assured the audience that the IRS would continue to work with librarians and Intuit to make as many changes and improvements possible to the electronic filing program for the next tax season.

Ms. MacDougall of Intuit presented a series of solutions that Intuit is already working on to resolve as many of the "glitches" as possible. Many of the improvements to the online filing program will immediately resolve problems for libraries:

Ms. Carolyn French from the Michigan Department of Treasury spoke about the Treasury's program to encourage online filing and the ability of taxpayers to file their Michigan returns simultaneously with their federal returns. She agreed to review the Treasury web site to assure that taxpayers are made aware of the preparation and technical skills necessary to file online.

After the workshop, the representatives from the IRS, Intuit, Michigan Dept. of Treasury and MEL met and agreed to work together in the next two months to create publications, to create a prototype tax tutorial for librarians, and to take the efiling issue to the national level through ALA. Debbie Gallagher of MEL will post updates on the electronic filing program to Michlib-L and through various state-level librarian publications and forums.

Source: Debbie Gallagher, Government Information Specialist, MEL/AADL, 2713 Plymouth Road, Ann Arbor MI 48105-2427; Email: gallagherd@aadl.org; Phone: (734) 996-3180; Fax: (734) 994-1856.

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(2) Michigan Charity Registry Coming Soon?

If signed by Governor Engler, House Bill 4259 will rewrite the Charitable Organizations and Solicitations Act to give the Michigan Attorney General's Office more power to regulate charities across the state and provide information for consumers. The Senate Gaming and Casino oversight committee worked with the Michigan Attorney General's Office to receive a guarantee that Michigan consumers would be provided with a toll-free number as well as Internet access for obtaining information about charities and their use of funds. The bill would require the Attorney General's Office to provide information free of charge and require that the information be made available within a year! For more information about the bill, including history and legislative analyses, see http://www.michiganlegislature.org/find.asp.

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