Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Free IRS tax preparation for qualifying taxpayers

Image result for vita tax

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $53,000 or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly and limited English- speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals.

The Danbury VITA offers appointments every Monday at the New Milford Public Library between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. in the Connecticut Room on the main floor. To make an appointment, call 203-826-9517. And don't forget to check the list of items you need to bring with you by clicking here.

Mark P. Hasskarl
 Library Director

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

It's almost Oscar night ...

The 87th annual Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards, better known as the Oscars, will be presented on Sunday, February 22 at 8:00 p.m. EST. There are 8 nominees for the Best Picture Oscar for 2014, and in alphabetical order, they are:

American Sniper (probable DVD release in April)
The Imitation Game (release date 3/31)
Selma (probably DVD release date in May)
The Theory of Everything (release date 3/17)
Whiplash (release date 2/24)

Titles in light blue are already owned by the library, while the ones in dark blue are on order; those on order have their release dates in parentheses after the title. Items on order may be placed on hold.

For a complete list of all the Oscar nominees, click here.

So catch up on any of the Best Picture nominees you may have missed or want to see again, and enjoy the big show!

Mark P. Hasskarl
Library Director

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Tired of the snow? Just look below!

Many area residents believe we’ve already had enough snow this winter and can't wait for spring to arrive. However, things could be much, much worse.

For example, take a look at the photograph below taken on Japan’s Honshu Island in what are called the Japanese Alps.

The average snowfall in that region is 21' 10", and the world record snow depth at Mt. Ibuki is 38' 9". 

What explains this tremendous snowfall? In the winter, cold air from Siberia crosses over the Sea of Japan, picking up moisture. These cold winds them slam into the Japanese Alps and lower elevations on the mountains' windward slopes, wringing out heavy snow. When this weather pattern stays in place, feet of snow can fall for several days.

The picture above was taken on the Tateyama Kurobe Route, west of Nagano, in the spring. Plows clear the road each year, leaving those giant snow walls resembling a canyon on either side of the road. The bus was filled with tourists who traveled there to observe and be engulfed by this evidence of extreme winter weather.

So the next time you're upset by the snowfall in our area, just look at this photo again. It just might help.

Mark P. Hasskarl
Library Director

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Do Your Taxes for Free: Use IRS Free File

Make taxes less taxing this year by using free software offered exclusively through the IRS. Join the 43 million Americans who already have saved by using IRS Free File. You can use name-brand software or fillable forms to prepare and e-file your federal tax return - all for free. Combined with direct deposit, electronic filling is the quickest way to get your refund.
Here are some tips about IRS Free File:
1. Go to IRS.gov/FreeFile.  The only way to use IRS Free File is through the IRS website. Once you choose a Free File company, you’ll go to their website to prepare and e-file your federal tax return.
2. Find tax breaks.  The question-and-answer format of tax software will help you find tax breaks. This could include tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. The software selects the appropriate tax forms and does the calculations for you. Free File can help with the new health care law tax provisions as well.
3. Free for all.  You can use brand-name software if you made $60,000 or less. If you earned more, you can use Free File Fillable Forms. This option uses electronic versions of IRS paper forms. It is best for people who are used to doing their own taxes.
4. Easy online extensions.  If you can’t finish your tax return by the April 15 deadline, it’s easy to use Free File to ask for a six-month extension. An extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. If you owe federal taxes, you need to estimate the amount and pay it with your request to avoid penalties and interest.
The IRS partners with 14 leading tax software companies, the Free File Alliance, to make this service available. Some companies offer free federal and free state returns. Choose your option on IRS.gov/freefile.
Joan McManus

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Groundhog Day

Although the snow prevented me from posting this on Groundhog Day itself, I thought a bit of information about that annual event might still be of interest after the fact.

Groundhog Day was started by German settlers who immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1800s. Before they left their home country, Germans looked to the badger to forecast weather. When they settled in Pennsylvania, the Germans replaced their badger with the groundhog, since it was easier to find in the U.S.

John Griffiths holds Punxsutawney Phil
during last year's Groundhog Day event.
The first documented reference to Groundhog Day in the U.S. is found in a diary entry by a Morgantown, PA storekeeper named James Morris, who wrote: “Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate.”
The most famous groundhog is Punxsutawney Phil, named after the PA town that has the most famous celebration, and who, according to legend, was born in 1887. Although most groundhogs live 10 years, Phil has reached the ripe old age of 128 due a magic elixir called groundhog punch, which Phil drinks during the annual summer Groundhog Picnic.

Many other places in North America have their own celebrations and their own groundhogs, including Chuckles, right here in CT in Manchester, Flatiron Freddy in Boulder, CO, and Sir Walter Wally in Raleigh, NC.
One side benefit of this somewhat unusual tradition - after all, spring begins on March 20, just over 6 weeks after Groundhog Day – is that wonderful 1994 comedy, Groundhog Day (which is currently being replaced for our DVD collection), in which Bill Murray repeats that day over and over and over again.
Mark P. Hasskarl
Library Director

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tax Forms at the Library

Due to severe cutbacks on the federal level, libraries all across the country will only receive forms 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ from the IRS. We will receive the Connecticut state tax forms.

We will not be receiving any of the other federal forms, schedules, or instruction booklets this year the way we have in years past.

These are available for printing on the IRS website: http://www.irs.gov/Forms-&-Pubs

It is also possible to order forms to be sent to your home by mail: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Forms-and-Publications-by-U.S.-Mail
Erin Johnson
Digital Literacy Associate

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Who’s Who in the Library: Meet Molly Uskudarli

Molly Uskudarli, Library Page
Molly Uskudarli adds her strong intelligence and intellectual curiosity to the eclectic staff mélange at the library. Molly has worked for the library since 2009, initially as a volunteer and currently as a page.

Molly was educated as an archaeologist, earning her BA degree from the University of Ankara, Turkey, followed by two years of post-graduate study at the University of Rome, Italy. Her background led her to 20 years in the field of international banking, also involving the financing of art projects. She eventually rose to the executive ranks, where she remained for over 10 years. Her next career move spanned nine years in donor relations and finance at a non-profit organization in Stamford, CT.

As a subscriber to the American Journal of Archaeology, Molly stays abreast of the news in her field. Multi-faceted, she enjoys swimming almost every day and, as an avid student, is currently studying photography at WestConn. Molly relishes learning new things and actively takes advantage of opportunities. She has many interests, especially classical music, classic black-and- white movies, and art. Molly is a frequent visitor to New York City where she peruses the galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and attends concerts, shows and exhibitions. At home, she frequently relaxes in front of her favorite TV network, Turner Classic Movies.

Her husband Douglas, like Molly, is well-traveled and shares her interests. She and Douglas maintain an extensive home library. Molly reminisces that her mother taught her that books are sacred and must be treated with utmost respect. Molly honors her mother’s legacy by valuing her personal volumes and lovingly tending to the New Milford Library collection.

Molly and Douglas have one son and two grandchildren. Their grandchildren are Sophie, age 8, and Canaan, age 2 1/2. Molly and Sophie have an especially close relationship, often spending afternoons together sharing lunch and attending movies.

Molly loves to read and is currently reading Old Testament Figures in Art by Chiara De Capoa. She recommends Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience by Shaun Usher, which is true to its subtitle. For example, it contains a scone recipe that Queen Elizabeth sent to President Eisenhower, a letter written to President Roosevelt by the then-12-year-old Fidel Castro, and the explanation of a piece of heartfelt advice given by Ronald Reagan to his son.

Molly’s philosophy of life is simply this: to work hard, live well and always keep her family as her priority.
Joan McManus