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Competences: 23 Things Reference - Thing #15

Government Reference

Untangling the web of government websites can be difficult.  Different government agencies and various levels of government can make finding answers difficult.  There are four levels of government (federal, state, county, and municipal).  Each level has its own website or series of websites.  There are many different websites for organizations like the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the White House, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Lancaster County Recorder of Deeds, or Ephrata Borough. 

Federal government:  These websites typically end in .gov.  Examples can be www.whitehouse.gov, www.congress.gov., or www.justice.gov,  The general web portal for the United States government is www.usa.gov.

Pennsylvania State government:  These websites sometimes end in .gov or are formatted as www.____.state.pa.us.  Examples can be www.psp.state.pa.us, www.pde.state.pa.us, or www.compass.state.pa.us.  The general web portal for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is www.pa.gov

Lancaster County government: These websites are general formatted as www.co.lancaster.pa.us/___________.  Examples can be www.co.lancaster.pa.us/courts or www.co.lancaster.pa.us/parks.  The general web portal for Lancaster County is www.co.lancaster.pa.us.

Municipal government: The different local governments all have different websites and there is no common format.  They are as follows:

Akron Borough: www.akron-pa.com

Clay Township: www.claytwp.com

Ephrata Borough: www.ephrataboro.org

Ephrata Township: www.ephratatownship.org

IRS.gov

IRS.gov is the online home of the Internal Revenue Service.  On this website you can pay your Federal taxes, find tax forms and information, and even find out where your refund is.  What you would most likely need IRS.gov for is tax forms.  

Right on the front page there are direct links to some of the more popular forms.  These direct links are located on the left portion of the front page.

There is also an excellent search function on IRS.gov.  If you simply type in the form number or title, it should give you what you need.  The search box is located in the upper right portion of the front page.

 There is also a tab on the front page for forms and publications where all IRS documents are centrally located.  This tab is located in the upper right portion of the front page.

If you have trouble finding these functions, each has a large red arrow pointing to it in the screen shot above.

Remember we do not help patrons file taxes or give tax advice.  If they need help with these things you can always direct them to VITA if they qualify (717-291-5462).

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USA.gov

USA.gov is the first stop for any Federal government reference.  This is THE clearinghouse.  This is not necessarily were you are going to find the answer, but it should lead you to were you want to go!

The PSA above won't tell you how to use USA.gov, but it is funny!

PA.gov

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's main portal is PA.gov.  You can use that to find general information and links to different state departments.  One problem that I have with the search feature isn't the best.  It works ok, but sometimes gives you some really weird results.  Check it out!

Other Useful Government Links

Questions for Thing #15

Answer the following questions about government reference.  Your answers should be sent as an email attachment to techservices@ephratapubliclibrary.org.

1) A patron wants to know who the elected officials are in the area they live.  Find a list of township supervisors or borough council members on the website of one of the municipalities in our service area (Clay Township, Ephrata Township, Ephrata Borough, Akron Borough).  Use the web address as your answer.

2) Compare and contrast USA.gov and PA.gov.  Tell me what you like and don't like about each.

3) Use the IRS.gov and find a copy of the most recent 1040 Form.  Use the web address of a PDF copy of the form as your answer.