Saying that tax season has been as punishing on librarians as taxpayers, Ventura County officials said Monday that county libraries will discontinue their 10-year service of distributing state and federal tax forms after Oct. 31.
"It's a real headache," said Alan Langville, manager of community libraries. The county manages all libraries except those in Thousand Oaks, Oxnard and Santa Paula.
The system's 15 libraries gave out about 600,000 tax forms during the last tax season, Langville said. He said the service, for which the libraries aren't compensated, cost at least $100,000 in staff time and untold aggravation.
Librarians have had to field dozens of telephone calls, clear jammed copiers, sort forms and keep distribution centers stocked, and constantly remind customers that they can't give tax advice.
With more than $900,000 lopped off its budget this year, Langville said, the library system couldn't afford to continue the service.
"We're librarians, not tax specialists," said Jean Doty, a senior librarian at the Simi Valley Community Library.
She said the Simi Valley library issued 186,000 forms during the recent tax season.
The Thousand Oaks Public Library, which operates separately from the county, may discontinue its tax forms service, Deputy Director Steve Brogden said.
"The IRS has had a good patsy for some time in libraries. That's beginning to stop," he said.
Barbara Spalinger, an IRS spokeswoman in San Jose, said California libraries are leading a national trend away from distributing tax forms.