Library 101: Taxes

Posted on: Tuesday, January 27th, 2015 by Jody Hanshew

Death, taxes and childbirth! There's never any convenient time for any of them.

Margaret Mitchell,
Gone with the Wind

Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.'

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.,
U.S. Supreme Court Justice

No matter how you feel about taxes, it’s the time of year to start thinking about filing your federal and state tax returns.

The country’s first income tax originated during the Civil War, when Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1861 which included a tax on personal incomes to help pay war expenses. This was repealed ten years later. An 1894 attempt to enact a flat rate Federal income tax was ruled unconstitutional. In 1913 the 16th Amendment paved the way for the Federal income tax as we now know it.

Who has to file a tax return?  That depends on several factors, including your age, 2014 income and marital status (for example, if you are single, under 65, and made over $10,150 last year, you do have to file). Many people who are below the income threshold for 2014 should still file a return in order to get a tax refund. You might also be required to file in specific situations, for example, if you are self-employed with earnings of more than $400 or if you are a church employee with income in wages of $108.28 or more from a church or qualified church-controlled organization that is exempt from employer social security or Medicare taxes. If you are unsure if you need to file, check the IRS website (, the Virginia Department of Taxation (, or your home state’s tax offices.

IRS appropriations were significantly cut in the 2015 Omnibus Appropriations bill recently passed by Congress, so the types and number of tax forms made available in print will be decreased this year. But Kelly Library, a Federal Depository Library, will have a limited number of paper copies of forms available for many of the more popular forms. You can also download tax forms and instructions directly from the and websites.

If you want to file electronically you can do so for free here ( using online fillable forms, or if your adjusted gross income(or AGI)  is less than $60,000 and you meet certain criteria, you can file for free using free tax prep software.  Other websites that have options to file Federal forms for free include Turbo Tax, H&R Block, and 1040Now.  The Virginia Department of Taxation has a webpage with these tax preparers and others.  One note of caution: while you might be able to file Federal returns for free, some of these programs charge for the state forms.

Remember, Wednesday, April 15 is the deadline to file your 2014 tax return and pay any tax due, so don’t be late. Friday, May 1 is the deadline for state income tax.

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