Online Tax Resources!

There isn’t a polite way to say this: it’s the beginning of tax season. Here is a list of common lies we tell ourselves about filing our taxes and their associated underlying toxic trait:

  • “I can put this off for now.” (Procrastination)
  • “I’m going to have a great time filing my taxes this year!” (Toxic Optimism)
  • “I would rather build a time machine, go sit in the nosebleed section of the Steelers vs Bills’ game on January 15th, and watch them lose a playoff game 17-31 while only wearing a Hawaiian shirt and board shorts than get audited by the IRS!”

(That’s not a lie, just somehow the better of those two options).

And we all know how agonizingly laborious it can be seeking out the right tax information online, right? Wrong.

Did you think Allegheny County Libraries would just leave you out in the cold? Put your tax filing ambitions on ice? Give you the cold shoulder when you needed help the most? Let your worries snowball until your tax fears bury you in an avalanche of anxiety?!

You’re right, let’s move on.

Let’s start with resources for Pennsylvania State Taxes!

The link you just clicked takes you straight to the PA State government site. You’ll find all kinds of relevant information there as a PA resident (feel free to browse that extra stuff later). For now, you’re looking for the Department of Revenue towards the bottom of the page.

Looks just like this.

This is where you’ll find pretty much everything you need including:

  • Personal income tax forms
  • Property tax/rent rebate forms
  • PA personal income tax guide
  • Info on making a personal income tax payment online, by phone, or mail
  • Info on establishing payment plans
  • A tool that lets you track the status of your PA personal income tax refund
  • Forms for businesses
  • A link to speak directly with a customer service representative
  • More!

You can even fill out those forms as a .pdf and print them or save them for later.

Now for everyone’s favorite department of the federal government: the IRS! (That’s also not a lie, it’s sarcasm).

I’m kidding! (Please don’t audit me).

The IRS website has all kinds of tax information for you!

Here you will find all the information you need to file federal income taxes, including:

  • Forms and instructions for (including but not limited to) the following documents: 1040, W-4, 1040-ES, W-9, 4506-T, 2848, 941, W-2, W-3, 9465, SS-4, and W-7
  • Your IRS website account
  • Your federal tax record
  • Tax withholdings estimator
  • Info on making a federal income tax payment online
  • Info on establishing payment plans
  • A tool that lets you track the status of your federal refund
  • More!

Sure, reliable and easy to utilize tax information isn’t the most alluring resource that your Allegheny County Libraries offers. But, spending practically no time at all visiting these sites will make sure you don’t become so overwhelmed by tax season that you feel…frozen with inaction.

This seems like a good place to wrap up.

Always remember, if you ever have questions about accessing or navigating your digital resources, contact your local librarian!

– Derek, South Park Township Library

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Utilizing ChatGPT for Librarianship

AI has been transforming work, research, and computer usage for years. Its poster child, ChatGPT, has been shining in its own limelight since its release on November 30, 2022. You have most likely heard of ChatGPT in passing news headlines or social media posts, but you may not know exactly what it is or what it can do. Admittedly, I am a late adopter of it – I have been using it in my personal and professional life only the past few months. Though I am still wary (we all remember the Terminator series and SkyNet…), I use it sparingly and to useful effect.

ChatGPT logo

ChatGPT stands for Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer. It is a chatbot developed by OpenAI. This company was established in 2015 as a research organization determined to develop “safe and beneficial AI.” It has recently been in headlines because of the removal and subsequent reinstatement of its CEO, Sam Altman. The program enables users to refine and steer a conversation towards a desired length, format, level of detail, language, etc. This is possible through successive prompts and replies (fancily known as prompt engineering). Example below:

I use ChatGPT for all sorts of queries—from the mundane to the complicated. As an information services librarian, I get all sorts of questions: what’s the best washing machine? What book can I read that is like Fourth Wing? Where is the tallest building in the world? All of these have answers available outside of ChatGPT, but the AI can consolidate answers. To get read-a-likes for Fourth Wing, I would probably check BookList, Novelist, Goodreads, among others (which I still can if I am not satisfied with my GPT results!). I can also further refine results – maybe I do not want a book over 300 pages, or I want one specifically by a female-identifying author. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination and ChatGPT’s cutoff of information in January 2022.

Signing up to use ChatGPT is free and easy. Navigate to https://chat.openai.com/auth/login, and sign up using an email address and password. And you’re in! There are premium features to ChatGPT for $20/month, like a newer model of ChatGPT and access to different tools, the one I’m most familiar with being DALL-E, an image-producing program. For an everyday librarian, though, the free plan works perfectly fine, though it will not have the absolute latest books and information.

Despite any misgivings about the future of AI, ChatGPT, as it exists today, is a useful little tool for everyday library needs.

Do you have any ChatGPT success or horror stories? I’m always all-ears! Drop me a line at: smithc2@einetwork.net

Cameron R.S. Smith | Cooper-Siegel Community Library

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Exciting New Resource News!

We are pleased to announce that the newest resources from the POWER Library are now live on the Allegheny County eLibrary. Access all the new resource from the Pennsylvania Electronic Library like Britannica School, Cricket Media Collection, MyHeritage, PA Online Learning, and more!

The eLibrary can be your one stop shop for lots of resources from the POWER Library – job hunting, ebooks (on a wide variety of topics), language learning, and genealogy research just to name a few. If you want to do a deeper dive into what some of these exciting new resources from POWER Library have to offer stop in or call your local library to learn more!

Happy Learning,

-Adrianne, Northland Public Library

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New Reads – Straight to Your Inbox

Looking for new titles in your preferred genres or by your favorite authors? Get lists of titles added to the Allegheny County Library collections straight to your inbox with Select Reads!

Sign up for receive free monthly email notifications so you never miss another great pick. Choose from a variety of topics like Fiction, Non-Fiction, Entertainment, Graphic Novels, Home & Garden, Large Print, Romance, Teen, Age groups (4-8 & 9-12) and so many more.

This resource is great for both library staff and patrons alike! Staff can opt-in to all of the newsletters to boost your readers advisory repertoire or select specific areas of interest. Share this resource with your patrons so they can be up-to-date with the latest titles and authors that are available in the library catalog.

Find this resource on the county’s eLibrary page at elibrary.einetwork.net.

– Richelle Klug, Sewickley Public Library

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