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No rest for the taxed and weary

by Greg Risling

How can the state expect you to file your tax returns if you can’t find the forms?

South Lake Tahoe has only four sources for state tax forms, and that has left some residents scurrying about to meet today’s deadline. Forms are at the El Dorado County Library, the California Department of Motor Vehicles, and the post offices on Al Tahoe Boulevard and Emerald Bay Road.

The library ran out of state forms two weeks ago, so people are forced to copy the worksheets out of a binder. According to library supervisor Sally Neitling, it’s a social smorgasbord amid last-minute panic. Librarians are ready for the annual pilgrimage and this year they have an office pool to see how long the lines will be.

“The most people today we had were eight people waiting,” she said. “We pray the copy machine doesn’t break down because it is our only one.

“It’s actually fun to see because old friends will reminisce, there are people from all walks of life and it’s a great place for singles to meet.”

At the DMV offices on U.S. Highway 50, people have to stand in line. The forms are behind the counter. DMV only has the tax booklets.

“We haven’t had too many people,” said DMV manager Phyllis Anderson. “It’s been pretty much business as usual.”

No need to fret. There are options. Computer-users can download the forms on the home page of the California Franchise Tax Board (www.ftb.ca.gov). The agency also offers residents a six-month extension to file their tax forms. However, if you owe money to the state, you still have to send your check in by April 15. Last year, more than 1 million people opted to file late.

Accessing the Internet seems to be catching on, according to Jim Shepherd, FTB’s public affairs officer. He said that on Monday, approximately 123,000 people copied the forms off of its web page. He estimates 1.7 million residents have done likewise since Jan. 1.

“It’s the easiest place to go,” said Shepherd. “You can get your questions answered and there is general information about tax returns.

“If you live in a small town there is never enough information. Let’s face it. We can never escape the last-minute crunch.”

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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