by CI Staff
This issue of On the Internet points you to the most useful websites for tax laws, tax tips and tax preparation services.
The IRS website should be your go-to source for definitive tax information. The site provides all tax forms and publications, which you can download.
A Hot Topics section covers the most-asked-about issues involving taxes and tax returns. In addition to tax tools, IRS.gov provides information on filing, payments, refunds, credits and deductions, as well as tax law news. Users can also learn about tax fraud. To file your taxes for free at the IRS website, go to www.irs.gov/efile.
The Help and Resources area of the website provides you with several ways to get your questions answered, including an online interactive tax assistant.
Tax Tips and Tools
1040.com offers numerous resources to help individuals with their taxes. Its federal tax guide is expansive and should cover most individual investors’ needs. A link to the guide is provided on the right-hand side of the website. The guide is divided into several sections, starting with filing basics and continuing through income, withholding, dependents, credits, deductions, refunds and payments. There is also a tax calendar and a tax tips section. The state tax area links to the tax department website for each state.
Before filing, you may want to use the federal tax return estimator to get an idea of your tax refund or liability. In addition, the website offers several tools that will help make your life easier, including tools that help you estimate the amount of your Social Security that may be taxed and whether you should itemize or pay the standard deduction. Finally, you can access PDF versions of commonly used forms, along with instructions for each. The site offers tax filing for free if you meet certain requirements. Basic and deluxe tax preparation versions cost $19.95 and $39.95, respectively.
DailyFinance.com Tax Center
The Tax Center section of DailyFinance’s website provides users with helpful information about taxes. The site offers an extensive amount of updated news surrounding the topic, and how taxes can affect you. There are featured videos and several different tax calculators provided to help users. If you have questions about bonds, credit, debt and how changes in your tax rate can affect your retirement, The Tax Center is a website that will be useful. The site provides information on specific life events and how they might affect your taxes, as well as several tools and resources.
Bankrate.com Tax Center
Bankrate.com provides a section of their website specifically for taxes (Figure 1). The site provides hundreds of tax forms and information on state tax rates. Bankrate lists deductions that may be new and information for all different tax brackets and filers. The site can educate you on what bracket you fall into. Concerning tax breaks and credits, viewers can read helpful tips and explanatory information. The site seeks to keep viewers informed about new tax laws, which are constantly being implemented. If you are an investor, the investment and capital gains section can assist you in handling the taxes for your investments. Answers to concerns about adjusting withholdings are also provided.
MarketWatch, a comprehensive site with free investment data and analysis, offers a section devoted to taxes (Figure 2). To access this area, go to the Personal Finance tab and then choose Taxes from the submenu. MarketWatch offers videos and articles with tips for tax preparation and discussions of tax law.
Yahoo! Finance Taxes
Yahoo! Finance’s tax resources are found in the Personal Finance section. The area includes articles, news and a how-to guide with tips and guidance for taxpayers.
Tax calculators help you determine tax savings, whether you should exercise stock options, the impact of inflation, the tax advantages of annuities and more. A glossary defines commonly used tax terms. A list of popular articles as well as an Expert Opinion section round out the site’s free offerings on taxes.
Tax Prep Services
TurboTax offers a range of services, from simple through corporate tax preparation, and charges various rates depending on how complicated your tax return is. In addition, TurboTax offers several useful calculators, such as a tax refund calculator, W-4 salary calculator and IRA retirement calculator. The website features several tax guides and includes short how-to videos. Users may also browse tax guides by category. The Support tab of TurboTax offers tax help for numerous tax situations.
H&R Block provides tax preparation, audit support, business services and refund options for users. The site offers an option to file for free online, as well as advanced filing options to assist those who invest or seek expert advice. There are several different tax calculators and tips, along with frequently asked questions involving taxes. H&R Block guides users through the tax preparation process and provides them with the necessary resources to discover which solution best fits their needs.
TaxAct offers the least expensive way to file taxes online, and provides users with information similar to other tax preparation services like H&R Block or TurboTax. TaxAct has different options for those who are experienced in filing taxes, and makes inputting your information directly from your forms very easy. If you aren’t an experienced filer and may need extra assistance, the program offers that as well.
More Info Online
For more on online tax prep services, see January’s Computerized Investing Online Exclusive.