Sunday, January 10, 2010

10 JAN 10: Book Case

The box for "snail mail" outside my door was stuffed full the other day. But only one item was to blame for the stuffing - my federal tax book for 2009. The Form 1040 book has more than 150 pages. It's certainly a must-read - although maybe not until the first week of April.

But the mailbox provided some surprising news about another January tradition. A post card from the Georgia Department of Revenue told me the state no longer is mailing individual income tax books. This has to disappoint the Georgia Department of Education - which wants to promote reading any way it can.

The post card admits the Georgia Department of Revenue is trying to save money, and will only mail income tax books if residents ask for one. "This initiative is helping DOR to 'go green!'" the card adds. Going "out of the red" might be closer to it....

The Georgia Department of Revenue did some research, and discovered only 28 percent of last year's income tax returns used forms from booklets. Trouble is, I'm among the 28 percent. I'm so old-fashioned that I fill out my own returns with pen and paper - and the closest I've come to "computer filing" is using a calculator to verify my math.

The good news on the post card is that I can still pick up a Georgia income tax book at "selected libraries statewide." So Friday afternoon, I stopped by the Columbus Public Library - only to find it didn't have any yet. Hopefully the state isn't so short on money that I'll have to check one out for two weeks, then return it.

The Columbus Public Library has some federal tax forms, but for some reason they're hidden on second-floor racks with the newspapers and magazines. The first-floor public access computer area had none - but it did have copies of the Nation of Islam's newspaper "The Final Call." It's been final for at least 15 years now....

The man behind the library reference desk offered to print Georgia tax forms for me. I didn't bother with that, as I'm in no hurry at this point. My idea of a "rapid refund" is to see whether the federal or state check reaches my mailbox faster.

(You can print your own Georgia tax forms from the state Department of Revenue web site. That means you're less "green" than the state government is -- but look on the bright side. The paper you expend could keep a Georgia timber farmer in business one more year.)

Yet it's strange that the Georgia Department of Revenue didn't have tax books ready at public libraries, before sending out its post cards. You'd think the state government would be better organized than that - if only to learn from how the federal government analyzed that alleged underwear bomber.

Admittedly I could request my own Georgia income tax book in the mail. All I have to do is return half of the post card - except I have to spend a 28-cent stamp to do that. The way current state tax forms round everything to the nearest dollar, I couldn't even claim that stamp as a deduction.

Instead I'll wait until local public libraries actually have the Georgia income tax books. Come to think of it, maybe the Department of Revenue has an educational motive behind this after all. Pick up one of their books, then check out a library book on how to hide your finances overseas.

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BLOG UPDATE: PMB Broadcasting shook up the Columbus radio dial again Saturday night. WRCG's weekend talk shows were replaced by salsa music, and "News-Talk 1420" became "Poder Latino" simulcasting a local Myspace streaming radio channel. Neal Boortz's fans must think Mexican immigrants have taken over at last.

The WRCG web site doesn't mention Poder Latino (which means "Latin Power") at all. But it notes the station now is carrying "select Cottonmouths games." Saturday night's 4-3 loss to Louisiana clearly was NOT one of them. After all, hockey broadcasts in the U.S. are far more likely to be in French.

We tried to contact a PMB Broadcasting manager about this Saturday night, without success. But I'm guessing WRCG will air Latin music on weekends only, much as "Ritmo Latino Radio" began several years ago on WSHE-AM. And who knows - when baseball season comes, Atlanta's games might be in your choice of languages.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Friday's restaurant report has one reader reaching for the sauce....

I too was surprised when I drove by CharBroil restaurant last week and saw the Closed sign. On most evenings when I passed the restaurant the parking lot was full. The prices were rather high and the taste and amount of food to me did not compare with Applebees which is located a short distance away. I think a location of Country's BBQ could be very successful in that location. Country's did at one time have a small restaurant in Phenix City (at the corner of Hiway 80 & the 280 By-pass) but closed it after a few years. But I doubt they will locate there as they might think it would reduce their business at the Columbus downtown location which is not that far from Phenix City/SmithsStation.

The lack of a Country's between downtown Columbus and Auburn puzzles me as well. Maybe there's a secret barbecue turf war on -- and Mike and Ed's has custody of central Phenix City, until there's some sort of new rub-out.

Let's see what else we're chewing on this weekend:

+ The Saturday morning low in Columbus was 17 degrees F. Yet I'm somehow making it through the cold wave without turning up my wall heater -- and without stooping to silly psychological stunts, like putting on my flowery Hawaiian shirt.

(The good news was that Saturday was bright, with warm sunshine coming through my bedroom window. The bad news is that I crawled into a sun-drenched bed at midday to rest, and almost woke up too late for church.)

+ Apparently due to the cold wave, a Columbus Domino's Pizza manager told WTVM deliveries on Friday were twice the usual number. Isn't this amazing? People ate up those loaves of bread during the alleged snowstorm so quickly....

+ Keep Columbus Beautiful held its annual "Bring One for the Chipper" tree recycling day. Yet again this year, I was disappointed - because Atlanta pitcher Tim Hudson didn't bring Chipper Jones to be a spokesman for the drive.

+ The Macon Telegraph reported a new minor baseball league will be launched this coming summer - with four teams, all playing in Macon. In Columbus, I think this is called Little League.

+ Instant Message to Rockola Primitive Baptist Church in Waverly Hall: What do you mean, no services today?! Having a worship service in below-freezing weather is about as "primitive" as you can get.

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