Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

January 15, 2009


Host: Ted Simons

New State Archives Building

  |   Video
  • On the day of the grand opening of the Polly Rosenbaum State Archives and History building, State Archives Director GladysAnn Wells and historian Doug Kupel talk about the new facility, what visitors can expect and the long process of constructing it.
Guests:
  • Bill Brunson - Phoenix office of the Internal Revenue Service
  • Dan Zemke - Arizona Department of Revenue
Category: Culture

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Tonight on "Horizon" -- e-filing your taxes continues to grow in popularity. Find out what's new about e-filing and get an update on new tax laws. Plus, the dedication of a new state archives building that will keep Arizona's history safe for generations. That's coming up next on "Horizon."

Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible from contributions from the friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Ted Simons:
Hello and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. First tonight -- a U.S. airways jet crashed into the Hudson River in New York City this afternoon. It appears that everyone survived, and there are reports of few injuries.

Flight 1549 had just left LaGuardia airport on its way to Charlotte. A few minutes into the flight, the plane reportedly flew into a flock of birds and the engines died. New York firefighters responded almost immediately and got the 150-plus passengers off the plane. Last year 58\% of tax payers who are eligiable filed their taxes electronically. In Arizona about 64\% are expected to e-file their tax returns this tax season. There are changes to e-file this year, plus there are new tax laws on both the state and federal level, including one that could benefit homeowners who've already paid off their homes. Here to talk about that is Bill Brunson of the Phoenix office of the Internal Revenue Service and Dan Zemke of the Arizona Department of Revenue. Its that time of the year, good to have you back on the program.

Bill Brunson and Dan Zemke:
Thanks Ted. It's good to be here.

Ted Simons:
You bet. All right Bill, changes in federal tax laws that we really need to know about.

Bill Brunson:
Well, there's an additional standard deduction for individuals who have paid off their house. If you're an individual who can't itemize and are paying real property tax local and state property taxes, then you're eligible for an additional standard deduction of $1,000 for married or $500 for someone in those other filing statuses. There's a big change, too, we call now the recovery rebate credit. Last year it was the economic stimulus payment. Now it's changed to the recovery rebate credit. Let's say you didn't claim the economic stimulus payment, you can still have an opportunity to file the 2008 return and claim that credit on a 2008 return you're filing this year. If there's been a change in your life style, such as in 2007, you were claimed as a dependent and now you're not, you may be eligible for this type of money. If you adopted a child or had a child during the year, that could cause an increase. There's a worksheet to determine if you have additional monies coming to help. That's online as well as the paper form if you have additional monies in this area.

Ted Simons:
Real quickly, back to the housing change. It's the primary home only, not a second home, not a vacation home?




Bill Brunson:
We're talking about a credit on real property taxes paid. And to be best of my knowledge, it's going to be on any sort of real property taxes that you're paying, so that may include that, but I'm not certain. That's why we've got a phone line established for folks to call on stuff that I don't know and you're going to ask and that's 1-800-829-1040 or they can log on to our website and probably they'll find that answer too.

Ted Simons:
We have that website and we'll get it up as soon as we can. Dan as far as Arizona tax laws, any big changes?

Dan Zemke:
There really were no real big changes this year. The standard deduction was increased slightly for inflation and the green party is now there as someone you can make a political contribution to and you can take a deduction for contributions to a 529 college savings plan. Up to $750 as a single individual, $1,500 as a married couple filing jointly. It isn't limited to the Arizona 529 plan. It can be from any state.

Ted Simons:
Good. As far as e-filing, we talked about changes to e-filing. First of all, let's talk about e-filing in general and then what kind of changes.

Bill Brunson:
Electronic filed tax returns are fast, accurate and secured. 48 hours after you've transmitted it to the I.R.S., we can let you know we've received it and processing it. They're accurate in the sense that the software does the math for you and there's almost no error and it's secure in the sense that you have a refund coming, those monies can be directly deposited in your saving, or checking account in as little as ten days and that check can get lost or stolen in the mail. Also by electronically filing, you are saving the federal government money. It's about a .35 cent cost for the government to process an electronically filed tax return. If, you submit it on paper, you're looking at about $2.87. So you're saving the federal government money which in turn saves your tax dollars, and it's a much more accurate and secure means

Ted Simons:
Are more Arizonans e-filing? Are more figuring it out?

Dan Zemke:
Yes, each year, the number increases. In fact last year, it went from roughly 45\% of the people doing it to 55\% and we expect more this year.

Ted Simons:
How does that compare nationwide?

Dan Zemke:
We run slightly behind I.R.S. and it's because they were involved in it before we were and they get a lot more publicity on it than we do.

Ted Simons:
What is free file?

Bill Brunson:
Free file allows the taxpayer to go to irs.gov, our website, click on a free file icon and choose between two ways. They can go through assisted free file, which offers 20 different software providers. The key here is that your adjusted gross income must be $58,000 or less in order to use that particular item, $58,000 or less of adjusted gross income. And now we've come out with a new item, called fillable forms and that allows anybody without any restriction on income amounts to fill out forms and they automatically will calculate and then you can transmit and get a copy of that item back. And it's the same as if you were to use the assisted free file. It's an electronically filed return so you have two options when you click on the free file icon on irs.gov. The key with the unassisted forms is we're looking at individuals that most likely have filed a return in the past themselves and don't need that by-the-hand assistance if you were to go to the assisted free file.

Ted Simons:
And those programs that help online are those free?

Bill Brunson:
Yes, they are. There's an agreement with a consortium of tax software writers or tax software companies that they don't charge for their services they're providing. The key is you have to go to irs.gov and click on that free file icon. If you go to one of those software providers outside of irs.gov, then it's whatever they're willing to charge and you're willing to pay.

Ted Simons:
As far as scams making the rounds, I noticed there was an e-mail scam out there. We're the i.r.s., contact us! That doesn't sound right.

Bill Brunson:
People should be hesitant when they receive unsolicited e-mail. Especially if they ask for something the I.R.S already has, say your social security number. So if you receive an unsolicited e-mail asking you for specific information about your personal finances and you, the individual, your personal identity. Don't click on that link, don't open that attachment, don't respond. You can send that item to fishing - phishing@i.r.s.gov, and this will allow our system, the internal revenue service to shut down that website and hopefully catch these tax crooks. The key is its unsolicited e-mail you're receiving from an unknown third party. Don't fall for it.

Ted Simons:
Ok. As far as payment, you can pay by credit card, correct?

Dan Zemke:
That's correct. By credit card or electronic check. Basically you go to the website and go to the payment area, and determine how much you want to pay and when you want to pay it, as long as you choose a date before April 15th, and the money will be taken from your account at that particular time and you don't have to send in a check. So it's much easier for you and easier for the state as well, as we don't have to process that check by hand.

Ted Simons:
State and federal, start with State. What happens if I can't pay?

Dan Zemke:
If you can't pay, please file on time. That way you eliminate any possibility of a late filing penalty and contact us after you've filed that return and say I know I owe this much. I just can't pay it right now. What kind of arrangements can I make? And we'll make payment arrangements with you so that you can get the liability taken care of.

Ted Simons:
Does it make sense to pay as much as you can and then contact? Or do you contact before you can pay as much as you can?

Bill Brunson:
You need to file the tax return to establish the amount of the liability. So that's why Dan and the I.R.S. would suggest to the taxpayer, when you file a return, pay what you can with that liability that you think you owe and then contact the Arizona department of revenue or the internal revenue service to determine the exact amount, then we can work out a payment arrangement with you. And we do this all the time.

Ted Simons:
Lots of folks have lost their homes through foreclosure. What do they need to know?

Bill Brunson:
There's going to be a form that they will have to attach to the return -- it's new this year -- that deals with indebtedness that's forgiven and there will probably also be a information return, a 1099c, issued by that mortgage lender to that particular individual who lost their home due to foreclosure or short sale. In the past, any monies that had been forgiven that you didn't have to pay; you had to include that amount into your taxable income. But that's not the case anymore. If we're talking about a foreclosure after January 1st, 2007, and it was on a principle primary residence, not a secondary house and the mortgage was $2 million or less. So if you have a situation like that, which I would think would meet most criterion here in the Phoenix area, then you have to describe it, show it to the I.R.S. with a particular new form, but it's not going to cause you any additional taxes.

Ted Simons:
Someone lost their job in 2008, again what do they need to know?

Bill Brunson:
If you receive unemployment compensation, that's taxable on the return in the year you receive it. You should also receive an information return from the payor, a 1099g, giving you that amount. And it's the same with severance pay and vacation pay and sick pay. Those amounts are fully taxable and includable on your return.

Ted Simons:
Things like food stamps and public assistance?

Bill Brunson:
That's correct Ted, they're not taxable.

Ted Simons:
Expenses for job search? Because a lot of folks are looking for jobs.

Bill Brunson:
Generally speaking, that could be an itemization but what you're looking at is a threshold of 2\% above your adjusted gross income before those costs give you a tax benefit. On the federal side, you have to exceed 7.5\% of your adjusted gross income for medical expenses. That's different from on the state side, right Dan.

Dan Zemke:
That's correct. The state allows 100\% of all out-of-pocket medical expenses. So a number of people can itemize on the state return that don't on the federal return. If you take standard on the federal, you can still itemize state. If you've got medical expenses, it's a good idea to at least look at it.

Ted Simons:
Last question. What do people look for in a tax advisor? What should you look out for, what should you look out for?

Bill Brunson:
That's an excellent question. This is the time of year that people are going to go to a paid preparer for that assistance. Choose wisely. Choose like you're going for a physician for your family. Look at someone who's been in the business for a long time. Look for someone who is going to be there after the filing season and look for someone who has gone back to the schoolhouse to learn the new tax laws that explain those items to you as they relate to your specific facts and circumstances. A paid preparer by law on the federal side is required to sign that return and should do so willingly and provide you with a copy of the return. You, the taxpayer, never want to sign a blank return or one in pencil. And you want to look out for the bad tax preparer. These are the guys who say I can get you the biggest refund in town or let me base my fee on the amount of refund I can get back for you. Those are red flags and the bottom line here is that you're responsible as the individual who signs that return. So review it before you sign it. If you have questions, ask them. And then you shouldn't have a problem.

Ted Simons:
It seems to make sense.

Dan Zemke:
Yes, it does. And remember, you're responsible for your tax return. Not the person--

Ted Simons:
--Yeah, I got you--

Dan Zemke:
--who prepared it.

Ted Simons:
Thank you both, good information. Good stuff, thank you for joining us.

Ted Simons:
Today was the official opening of the state's new archives and history building named in honor of longtime state legislator, Polly Rosenbaum. Former Senate President and likely to be our next Secretary of State, Ken Bennett, was Master of Ceremonies at this morning's dedication.

Ken Bennett:
And setting aside all of the questions as to whether we are 47th in this or 48th in that, or whatever, as of today, I think Arizona is unquestionably first in the country in the kinds of facilities it has to take care of the history that documents the great men and women and families who made this state the great state that it is.

Ted Simons:
Paid for by state appropriations and private fundraising efforts, the $38 million facility was more than a decade in the making. After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, guests were invited to take tours of the building. At 124,000 square feet, it offers plenty of space and the proper environment to store and protect Arizona's history for decades to come.

We got our own tour a few weeks ago. And Archivist Melanie Sturgen showed David Majure what the new building has to offer.

Melanie Sturgen:
These are Arizona's governor's papers from the territorial period five or six rows down, all the way down to some of Napolitano's papers. This room contains the artifacts from the capitol museum.

David Majure:
Arizona's history, the photographs and documents that tell stories of our state are safe at last. Waiting to be rediscovered in a new state archives building named in honor of a long time legislator, Polly Rosenbaum.

Melanie Sturgen:
She loved Arizona History so much. And she was a big part of helping us get this building started. The best thing about this building is all of this wonderful space in here. We have humidity and temperature controls and we have lots of room for growth. That's what's so wonderful about this building.

David Majure:
It's a huge improvement over the dark attic in the old State Capitol where records use to be kept.

Melanie Sturgen:
This is a 1938 addition and in 1938 this was state of the art because they really didn't know about humidity controls. For papers as old as the papers we have, some of them are 130 to 140 years old, they really need humidity control. So this is not a good place to keep them, no.

David Majure:
It was worse when it rained.

Melanie Sturgen:
What we have is an area in our building, where when it rains, the rain comes through the roof and you can see there's a lot of staining on the wall and when we get a lot of rain, the rain comes down and into this contraption that our conservation officer rigged up. It takes the rain and slides it down that little plastic piece into the trash can. This is not standard equipment for state archives, no.

David Majure:
The days of trash cans and weather alerts are over. Arizona's public records are now stored in a climate controlled environment. Special equipment keeps the temperature constant and humidity is ideal.

Julie Hoff:
I'm wearing a jacket in this because our temperature is 55 degrees and that's optimal temperature for long-term preservation for paper materials.

David Majure:
Like the state's large collection of maps.

Julie Hoff:
Our map collection has 30,000 sheets from the late 1500s to maps produced by state agencies within the last few weeks. We have things like this that shows the actual development of the territory and it's starting to look more familiar. But we still have Arizona and New Mexico divided than the way we do now.

Melanie Sturgen:
This is a cooler, where you go to minus 40 degrees in 10 hours. This is where we bring records contaminated with insects and bugs and spiders and something if it's gotten wet and they were afraid mold was developing we would keep it here at minus 40 degrees until we can kill the mold and dry the records out.

David Majure:
It's enough to bring a tear to an archivist's eye.

Melanie Sturgen:
I sat in that doorway and cried because we've been working so hard for this building and to see everything in one place and so clean and so lighted was really an emotional thing. So -- this is for the people of Arizona. This is a place where they can come and do research but this is where Arizona's history is going to be preserved for hundreds and hundreds of years.

Ted Simons:
Joining me to talk about the new building is Gladys Ann Wells, state librarian and director of library, archives and public records. And Doug Kupel, a historian for the phoenix attorney's office and president of friends of Arizona archives. Congratulations on the new building.

Gladys Ann Wells:
Thanks.

Ted Simons:
Talk about the damage. We saw some of the contraptions and jerry-rigging. What was damaged and what kind of damage did it suffer?

Gladys Ann Wells:
The sad part is in some cases we don't know what we lost. I have to sign for the destruction of records for government entities of all kinds -- cities and counties. There were places where it was so badly contaminated, that we couldn't risk the life of an archivist to find out what was there. It's hard enough that you lose records you know you've lost. Especially local records which roll up to state and roll up to federal in terms of content. When you have to lose records you can't even identify, inventory or copy before they have to be destroyed, that was a real tragedy.

Ted Simons:
Here comes a new building. How did this get rolling?

Doug Kupel:
It took a long time. About 12 years altogether from when Gladys Ann started in 1996 to today when we opened the building. It was a group effort, a citizen effort. It was driven by the people of Arizona. It was a grassroots type of thing from the bottom up. And we had a whole consortium of people. Library people, genealogists, professional historians, attorneys and teachers -- you name it. And it took a long, long time and a huge effort by a lot of people and it really is a testimony to how important it was to the people of Arizona.

Ted Simons:
Did you get everything you were hoping for?

Doug Kupel:
We did very, very well and we're pleased with the results. It's a topnotch building. A state of the art. It's the best building of its type in the nation at the moment. We have a few remaining issues. The furniture and equipment, as we got to the end of the project, the current economic crisis hit and so there was a budget cut toward the end of the project, so some things, such as moveable things in the building, we didn't purchase.

Ted Simons:
Let's say that I want to go -- I want to research a 19th century rancher or family or something, I want to go to the library and see what you've got, how do I go about it?

Gladys Ann Wells:
We're open 8:00 to 5:00. You can call ahead and check our website and send us an e-mail. If you're coming a long distance, we love people to call ahead and let us know the dates. We have people coming internationally, we like to maximize the time they have with us and we'll page collections that will be of use to them. But the building belongs to the people of Arizona and it has a lovely meeting space and research room and lots of room for people to come and research whatever you need to.

Ted Simons:
Do you need to register? Do I have to give you my library card or driver's license or something?

Gladys Ann Wells:
You don't need to do that, but you need to put all of your belongings in a locker, wear white gloves and only use a pencil.

Ted Simons:
Wow! That's serious right there. Where is it located?

Doug Kupel:
Near the state capitol. 1901 West Madison is the address and so it's on the west side of 19th avenue. And it's at Madison Street. And so that's just a stone's throw away from the capitol. And there's plenty of parking. Easy to find. You see the big Arizona flag on the front of the building. You can't miss it.

Ted Simons:
I know you're looking and adding stuff all the time. What are you looking for?

Doug Kupel:
Well, the beauty of a building like this, it's for the state records, but state records are not just state of Arizona records. They're also local and county records. One of the issues we had was you had to explain that there's records all over the state of Arizona that are in poor conditions. In your setup piece, you had the attic of the capitol, literally, things were in the attic, but there's basements and warehouses and local governments, county governments all across the state of Arizona that are that bad or worse. And it's those things we're hoping to get in to the new state archives building.

Ted Simons:
And not only state houses and courthouses, but from families as well.

Gladys Ann Wells:
Correct. Especially if they have any connection with government. We do try to be accountable to the people and provide the transparency that is now so much talked about which does my heart good as a librarian. But we're interested. We like to tell people, let us be your wastebasket. If you have doubt, please let us talk to you. We have about 135,000 photographs and artifacts. If your great uncle was in the legislature and you have a chair or writing tablet that he used, we use them to build exhibits to teach school children about history and to archive documents, those things.

Ted Simons:
Ok, once again. Hours?

Gladys Ann Wells:
8 to 5 Monday thru Friday.

Ted Simons:
Location?

Gladys Ann Wells:
1801 West Madison, between 19th and 20th Avenue.

Ted Simons:
And a website for folks who are a little curious, not ready to get down there?

Gladys Ann Wells:
www.lib.az.us.

Ted Simons:
Very good. Congratulations to both of you. I can tell it's emotional for you.

Gladys Ann Wells:
Yes, it is.

Ted Simons:
It must be gratifying.

Doug Kupel:
We're pinching ourselves but we're gradually believing it.

Ted Simons:
Thanks for joining us.

Gladys Ann Wells:
Thank you. Your support is wonderful.

Ted Simons:
Thank you. Coming up on "Horizon" -- state lawmakers have introduced a bill to get rid of the freeway photo radar cameras, and Governor Janet Napolitano delivers her final state of the state address. We're talk about that Friday on the journalists' roundtable. That's it. I'm Ted Simons. You have a great evening.

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Tax Advice

  |   Video
  • Bill Brunson of the Phoenix IRS office and Dan Zemke of the Arizona Department of Revenue explain changes in tax laws and offer tips on filing your taxes.
Guests:
  • Bill Brunson - Phoenix office of the Internal Revenue Service
  • Dan Zemke - Arizona Department of Revenue
Category: Business/Economy

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Tonight on "Horizon" -- e-filing your taxes continues to grow in popularity. Find out what's new about e-filing and get an update on new tax laws. Plus, the dedication of a new state archives building that will keep Arizona's history safe for generations. That's coming up next on "Horizon."

Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible from contributions from the friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Ted Simons:
Hello and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. First tonight -- a U.S. airways jet crashed into the Hudson River in New York City this afternoon. It appears that everyone survived, and there are reports of few injuries.

Flight 1549 had just left LaGuardia airport on its way to Charlotte. A few minutes into the flight, the plane reportedly flew into a flock of birds and the engines died. New York firefighters responded almost immediately and got the 150-plus passengers off the plane. Last year 58\% of tax payers who are eligiable filed their taxes electronically. In Arizona about 64\% are expected to e-file their tax returns this tax season. There are changes to e-file this year, plus there are new tax laws on both the state and federal level, including one that could benefit homeowners who've already paid off their homes. Here to talk about that is Bill Brunson of the Phoenix office of the Internal Revenue Service and Dan Zemke of the Arizona Department of Revenue. Its that time of the year, good to have you back on the program.

Bill Brunson and Dan Zemke:
Thanks Ted. It's good to be here.

Ted Simons:
You bet. All right Bill, changes in federal tax laws that we really need to know about.

Bill Brunson:
Well, there's an additional standard deduction for individuals who have paid off their house. If you're an individual who can't itemize and are paying real property tax local and state property taxes, then you're eligible for an additional standard deduction of $1,000 for married or $500 for someone in those other filing statuses. There's a big change, too, we call now the recovery rebate credit. Last year it was the economic stimulus payment. Now it's changed to the recovery rebate credit. Let's say you didn't claim the economic stimulus payment, you can still have an opportunity to file the 2008 return and claim that credit on a 2008 return you're filing this year. If there's been a change in your life style, such as in 2007, you were claimed as a dependent and now you're not, you may be eligible for this type of money. If you adopted a child or had a child during the year, that could cause an increase. There's a worksheet to determine if you have additional monies coming to help. That's online as well as the paper form if you have additional monies in this area.

Ted Simons:
Real quickly, back to the housing change. It's the primary home only, not a second home, not a vacation home?




Bill Brunson:
We're talking about a credit on real property taxes paid. And to be best of my knowledge, it's going to be on any sort of real property taxes that you're paying, so that may include that, but I'm not certain. That's why we've got a phone line established for folks to call on stuff that I don't know and you're going to ask and that's 1-800-829-1040 or they can log on to our website and probably they'll find that answer too.

Ted Simons:
We have that website and we'll get it up as soon as we can. Dan as far as Arizona tax laws, any big changes?

Dan Zemke:
There really were no real big changes this year. The standard deduction was increased slightly for inflation and the green party is now there as someone you can make a political contribution to and you can take a deduction for contributions to a 529 college savings plan. Up to $750 as a single individual, $1,500 as a married couple filing jointly. It isn't limited to the Arizona 529 plan. It can be from any state.

Ted Simons:
Good. As far as e-filing, we talked about changes to e-filing. First of all, let's talk about e-filing in general and then what kind of changes.

Bill Brunson:
Electronic filed tax returns are fast, accurate and secured. 48 hours after you've transmitted it to the I.R.S., we can let you know we've received it and processing it. They're accurate in the sense that the software does the math for you and there's almost no error and it's secure in the sense that you have a refund coming, those monies can be directly deposited in your saving, or checking account in as little as ten days and that check can get lost or stolen in the mail. Also by electronically filing, you are saving the federal government money. It's about a .35 cent cost for the government to process an electronically filed tax return. If, you submit it on paper, you're looking at about $2.87. So you're saving the federal government money which in turn saves your tax dollars, and it's a much more accurate and secure means

Ted Simons:
Are more Arizonans e-filing? Are more figuring it out?

Dan Zemke:
Yes, each year, the number increases. In fact last year, it went from roughly 45\% of the people doing it to 55\% and we expect more this year.

Ted Simons:
How does that compare nationwide?

Dan Zemke:
We run slightly behind I.R.S. and it's because they were involved in it before we were and they get a lot more publicity on it than we do.

Ted Simons:
What is free file?

Bill Brunson:
Free file allows the taxpayer to go to irs.gov, our website, click on a free file icon and choose between two ways. They can go through assisted free file, which offers 20 different software providers. The key here is that your adjusted gross income must be $58,000 or less in order to use that particular item, $58,000 or less of adjusted gross income. And now we've come out with a new item, called fillable forms and that allows anybody without any restriction on income amounts to fill out forms and they automatically will calculate and then you can transmit and get a copy of that item back. And it's the same as if you were to use the assisted free file. It's an electronically filed return so you have two options when you click on the free file icon on irs.gov. The key with the unassisted forms is we're looking at individuals that most likely have filed a return in the past themselves and don't need that by-the-hand assistance if you were to go to the assisted free file.

Ted Simons:
And those programs that help online are those free?

Bill Brunson:
Yes, they are. There's an agreement with a consortium of tax software writers or tax software companies that they don't charge for their services they're providing. The key is you have to go to irs.gov and click on that free file icon. If you go to one of those software providers outside of irs.gov, then it's whatever they're willing to charge and you're willing to pay.

Ted Simons:
As far as scams making the rounds, I noticed there was an e-mail scam out there. We're the i.r.s., contact us! That doesn't sound right.

Bill Brunson:
People should be hesitant when they receive unsolicited e-mail. Especially if they ask for something the I.R.S already has, say your social security number. So if you receive an unsolicited e-mail asking you for specific information about your personal finances and you, the individual, your personal identity. Don't click on that link, don't open that attachment, don't respond. You can send that item to fishing - phishing@i.r.s.gov, and this will allow our system, the internal revenue service to shut down that website and hopefully catch these tax crooks. The key is its unsolicited e-mail you're receiving from an unknown third party. Don't fall for it.

Ted Simons:
Ok. As far as payment, you can pay by credit card, correct?

Dan Zemke:
That's correct. By credit card or electronic check. Basically you go to the website and go to the payment area, and determine how much you want to pay and when you want to pay it, as long as you choose a date before April 15th, and the money will be taken from your account at that particular time and you don't have to send in a check. So it's much easier for you and easier for the state as well, as we don't have to process that check by hand.

Ted Simons:
State and federal, start with State. What happens if I can't pay?

Dan Zemke:
If you can't pay, please file on time. That way you eliminate any possibility of a late filing penalty and contact us after you've filed that return and say I know I owe this much. I just can't pay it right now. What kind of arrangements can I make? And we'll make payment arrangements with you so that you can get the liability taken care of.

Ted Simons:
Does it make sense to pay as much as you can and then contact? Or do you contact before you can pay as much as you can?

Bill Brunson:
You need to file the tax return to establish the amount of the liability. So that's why Dan and the I.R.S. would suggest to the taxpayer, when you file a return, pay what you can with that liability that you think you owe and then contact the Arizona department of revenue or the internal revenue service to determine the exact amount, then we can work out a payment arrangement with you. And we do this all the time.

Ted Simons:
Lots of folks have lost their homes through foreclosure. What do they need to know?

Bill Brunson:
There's going to be a form that they will have to attach to the return -- it's new this year -- that deals with indebtedness that's forgiven and there will probably also be a information return, a 1099c, issued by that mortgage lender to that particular individual who lost their home due to foreclosure or short sale. In the past, any monies that had been forgiven that you didn't have to pay; you had to include that amount into your taxable income. But that's not the case anymore. If we're talking about a foreclosure after January 1st, 2007, and it was on a principle primary residence, not a secondary house and the mortgage was $2 million or less. So if you have a situation like that, which I would think would meet most criterion here in the Phoenix area, then you have to describe it, show it to the I.R.S. with a particular new form, but it's not going to cause you any additional taxes.

Ted Simons:
Someone lost their job in 2008, again what do they need to know?

Bill Brunson:
If you receive unemployment compensation, that's taxable on the return in the year you receive it. You should also receive an information return from the payor, a 1099g, giving you that amount. And it's the same with severance pay and vacation pay and sick pay. Those amounts are fully taxable and includable on your return.

Ted Simons:
Things like food stamps and public assistance?

Bill Brunson:
That's correct Ted, they're not taxable.

Ted Simons:
Expenses for job search? Because a lot of folks are looking for jobs.

Bill Brunson:
Generally speaking, that could be an itemization but what you're looking at is a threshold of 2\% above your adjusted gross income before those costs give you a tax benefit. On the federal side, you have to exceed 7.5\% of your adjusted gross income for medical expenses. That's different from on the state side, right Dan.

Dan Zemke:
That's correct. The state allows 100\% of all out-of-pocket medical expenses. So a number of people can itemize on the state return that don't on the federal return. If you take standard on the federal, you can still itemize state. If you've got medical expenses, it's a good idea to at least look at it.

Ted Simons:
Last question. What do people look for in a tax advisor? What should you look out for, what should you look out for?

Bill Brunson:
That's an excellent question. This is the time of year that people are going to go to a paid preparer for that assistance. Choose wisely. Choose like you're going for a physician for your family. Look at someone who's been in the business for a long time. Look for someone who is going to be there after the filing season and look for someone who has gone back to the schoolhouse to learn the new tax laws that explain those items to you as they relate to your specific facts and circumstances. A paid preparer by law on the federal side is required to sign that return and should do so willingly and provide you with a copy of the return. You, the taxpayer, never want to sign a blank return or one in pencil. And you want to look out for the bad tax preparer. These are the guys who say I can get you the biggest refund in town or let me base my fee on the amount of refund I can get back for you. Those are red flags and the bottom line here is that you're responsible as the individual who signs that return. So review it before you sign it. If you have questions, ask them. And then you shouldn't have a problem.

Ted Simons:
It seems to make sense.

Dan Zemke:
Yes, it does. And remember, you're responsible for your tax return. Not the person--

Ted Simons:
--Yeah, I got you--

Dan Zemke:
--who prepared it.

Ted Simons:
Thank you both, good information. Good stuff, thank you for joining us.

Ted Simons:
Today was the official opening of the state's new archives and history building named in honor of longtime state legislator, Polly Rosenbaum. Former Senate President and likely to be our next Secretary of State, Ken Bennett, was Master of Ceremonies at this morning's dedication.

Ken Bennett:
And setting aside all of the questions as to whether we are 47th in this or 48th in that, or whatever, as of today, I think Arizona is unquestionably first in the country in the kinds of facilities it has to take care of the history that documents the great men and women and families who made this state the great state that it is.

Ted Simons:
Paid for by state appropriations and private fundraising efforts, the $38 million facility was more than a decade in the making. After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, guests were invited to take tours of the building. At 124,000 square feet, it offers plenty of space and the proper environment to store and protect Arizona's history for decades to come.

We got our own tour a few weeks ago. And Archivist Melanie Sturgen showed David Majure what the new building has to offer.

Melanie Sturgen:
These are Arizona's governor's papers from the territorial period five or six rows down, all the way down to some of Napolitano's papers. This room contains the artifacts from the capitol museum.

David Majure:
Arizona's history, the photographs and documents that tell stories of our state are safe at last. Waiting to be rediscovered in a new state archives building named in honor of a long time legislator, Polly Rosenbaum.

Melanie Sturgen:
She loved Arizona History so much. And she was a big part of helping us get this building started. The best thing about this building is all of this wonderful space in here. We have humidity and temperature controls and we have lots of room for growth. That's what's so wonderful about this building.

David Majure:
It's a huge improvement over the dark attic in the old State Capitol where records use to be kept.

Melanie Sturgen:
This is a 1938 addition and in 1938 this was state of the art because they really didn't know about humidity controls. For papers as old as the papers we have, some of them are 130 to 140 years old, they really need humidity control. So this is not a good place to keep them, no.

David Majure:
It was worse when it rained.

Melanie Sturgen:
What we have is an area in our building, where when it rains, the rain comes through the roof and you can see there's a lot of staining on the wall and when we get a lot of rain, the rain comes down and into this contraption that our conservation officer rigged up. It takes the rain and slides it down that little plastic piece into the trash can. This is not standard equipment for state archives, no.

David Majure:
The days of trash cans and weather alerts are over. Arizona's public records are now stored in a climate controlled environment. Special equipment keeps the temperature constant and humidity is ideal.

Julie Hoff:
I'm wearing a jacket in this because our temperature is 55 degrees and that's optimal temperature for long-term preservation for paper materials.

David Majure:
Like the state's large collection of maps.

Julie Hoff:
Our map collection has 30,000 sheets from the late 1500s to maps produced by state agencies within the last few weeks. We have things like this that shows the actual development of the territory and it's starting to look more familiar. But we still have Arizona and New Mexico divided than the way we do now.

Melanie Sturgen:
This is a cooler, where you go to minus 40 degrees in 10 hours. This is where we bring records contaminated with insects and bugs and spiders and something if it's gotten wet and they were afraid mold was developing we would keep it here at minus 40 degrees until we can kill the mold and dry the records out.

David Majure:
It's enough to bring a tear to an archivist's eye.

Melanie Sturgen:
I sat in that doorway and cried because we've been working so hard for this building and to see everything in one place and so clean and so lighted was really an emotional thing. So -- this is for the people of Arizona. This is a place where they can come and do research but this is where Arizona's history is going to be preserved for hundreds and hundreds of years.

Ted Simons:
Joining me to talk about the new building is Gladys Ann Wells, state librarian and director of library, archives and public records. And Doug Kupel, a historian for the phoenix attorney's office and president of friends of Arizona archives. Congratulations on the new building.

Gladys Ann Wells:
Thanks.

Ted Simons:
Talk about the damage. We saw some of the contraptions and jerry-rigging. What was damaged and what kind of damage did it suffer?

Gladys Ann Wells:
The sad part is in some cases we don't know what we lost. I have to sign for the destruction of records for government entities of all kinds -- cities and counties. There were places where it was so badly contaminated, that we couldn't risk the life of an archivist to find out what was there. It's hard enough that you lose records you know you've lost. Especially local records which roll up to state and roll up to federal in terms of content. When you have to lose records you can't even identify, inventory or copy before they have to be destroyed, that was a real tragedy.

Ted Simons:
Here comes a new building. How did this get rolling?

Doug Kupel:
It took a long time. About 12 years altogether from when Gladys Ann started in 1996 to today when we opened the building. It was a group effort, a citizen effort. It was driven by the people of Arizona. It was a grassroots type of thing from the bottom up. And we had a whole consortium of people. Library people, genealogists, professional historians, attorneys and teachers -- you name it. And it took a long, long time and a huge effort by a lot of people and it really is a testimony to how important it was to the people of Arizona.

Ted Simons:
Did you get everything you were hoping for?

Doug Kupel:
We did very, very well and we're pleased with the results. It's a topnotch building. A state of the art. It's the best building of its type in the nation at the moment. We have a few remaining issues. The furniture and equipment, as we got to the end of the project, the current economic crisis hit and so there was a budget cut toward the end of the project, so some things, such as moveable things in the building, we didn't purchase.

Ted Simons:
Let's say that I want to go -- I want to research a 19th century rancher or family or something, I want to go to the library and see what you've got, how do I go about it?

Gladys Ann Wells:
We're open 8:00 to 5:00. You can call ahead and check our website and send us an e-mail. If you're coming a long distance, we love people to call ahead and let us know the dates. We have people coming internationally, we like to maximize the time they have with us and we'll page collections that will be of use to them. But the building belongs to the people of Arizona and it has a lovely meeting space and research room and lots of room for people to come and research whatever you need to.

Ted Simons:
Do you need to register? Do I have to give you my library card or driver's license or something?

Gladys Ann Wells:
You don't need to do that, but you need to put all of your belongings in a locker, wear white gloves and only use a pencil.

Ted Simons:
Wow! That's serious right there. Where is it located?

Doug Kupel:
Near the state capitol. 1901 West Madison is the address and so it's on the west side of 19th avenue. And it's at Madison Street. And so that's just a stone's throw away from the capitol. And there's plenty of parking. Easy to find. You see the big Arizona flag on the front of the building. You can't miss it.

Ted Simons:
I know you're looking and adding stuff all the time. What are you looking for?

Doug Kupel:
Well, the beauty of a building like this, it's for the state records, but state records are not just state of Arizona records. They're also local and county records. One of the issues we had was you had to explain that there's records all over the state of Arizona that are in poor conditions. In your setup piece, you had the attic of the capitol, literally, things were in the attic, but there's basements and warehouses and local governments, county governments all across the state of Arizona that are that bad or worse. And it's those things we're hoping to get in to the new state archives building.

Ted Simons:
And not only state houses and courthouses, but from families as well.

Gladys Ann Wells:
Correct. Especially if they have any connection with government. We do try to be accountable to the people and provide the transparency that is now so much talked about which does my heart good as a librarian. But we're interested. We like to tell people, let us be your wastebasket. If you have doubt, please let us talk to you. We have about 135,000 photographs and artifacts. If your great uncle was in the legislature and you have a chair or writing tablet that he used, we use them to build exhibits to teach school children about history and to archive documents, those things.

Ted Simons:
Ok, once again. Hours?

Gladys Ann Wells:
8 to 5 Monday thru Friday.

Ted Simons:
Location?

Gladys Ann Wells:
1801 West Madison, between 19th and 20th Avenue.

Ted Simons:
And a website for folks who are a little curious, not ready to get down there?

Gladys Ann Wells:
www.lib.az.us.

Ted Simons:
Very good. Congratulations to both of you. I can tell it's emotional for you.

Gladys Ann Wells:
Yes, it is.

Ted Simons:
It must be gratifying.

Doug Kupel:
We're pinching ourselves but we're gradually believing it.

Ted Simons:
Thanks for joining us.

Gladys Ann Wells:
Thank you. Your support is wonderful.

Ted Simons:
Thank you. Coming up on "Horizon" -- state lawmakers have introduced a bill to get rid of the freeway photo radar cameras, and Governor Janet Napolitano delivers her final state of the state address. We're talk about that Friday on the journalists' roundtable. That's it. I'm Ted Simons. You have a great evening.

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