Tax Time Web Guide
By Adam Guttentag
Before you dive into this endeavor why not ask: " Do I need to file a tax return?" The IRS says that many people with low incomes don't realize that they are exempt from filing. Are you or someone you know (a college student, perhaps) among them?
If you're still reading this you are probably among the millions of Americans who have to file. How would you like to file that 1040 form? [choose one]
Just because you're still filing on dead trees doesn't mean you can't take advantage of your computer's resources.
For starters, any form you could need no matter how obscure can be downloaded from the IRS Web site, though we have copies of the most commonly-requested forms on our site. Regardless of where you get the forms, you will need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader (it's free) to print them.
The IRS site also maintains a number of interactive questions that help answer those sticky questions that are otherwise answered by the words "that depends." An electronic newsletter keeps you up to date on all the obscure deadlines (don't forget to check out the interactive tax calendar on our site).
If you have a computer with a modem, you can purchase tax-preparation software that allows you to file electronically using a system called IRS e-file. You answer the program's questions, fill in the blanks, and transmit your data over the phone lines.
Through IRS e-file, your return is more likely to be error-free, you don't have to worry about papers getting lost in the mail, and the IRS claims you will get your refund in half the time.
the IRS Web site | tax tools | state tax forms | advice
The IRS Web site is a huge compendium of forms, FAQs, glossaries and interactive question-and-answer pages. The tax information you seek is probably there, but finding that information is a daunting task especially if you start at the front door. We've explored the maze to make your searches a little easier. Here are some good starting points.
You can download forms and get other information for your state taxes.
Here's a collection of IRS-math-savvy gadgets that will help you calculate your return.
Question: "Do I qualify for such and such and exemption?"
Wouldn't it be nice if the tax-season headache subsided when you mailed your return? Even when you think you've reported everything and calculated appropriately, there's a chance that there's an error lurking somewhere.
Dollar for Dollar hopes its IRS Hotbuttons page can put your mind at ease. It says the IRS looks more closely at some sections of your return than others. If you can be certain that those sections are flawless, they say any other minor errors have a greater chance of slipping by undetected.
Taxweb has compiled a set of answers to many of the same frequently-asked questions addressed on the IRS Web site. While the IRS FAQ attempts to emulate a drawn out human question and answer session, Taxweb lays out all the conditions and answers in one table. It's up to you to determine which format works best for you.
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