FEELING TAXED BECAUSE YOU HAVEN'T FILED YET? HELP IS
By Dolores Kong
The Boston Globe
You're doing your taxes at the last minute, and you're
stumped by a question or missing a key form. Where do
you go for immediate assistance?
Now you can turn to the Internet at all hours of the
day and night to get the latest tax advice or print
out virtually every tax form and publication
The information can be found at Web sites for the
Internal Revenue Service, the Massachusetts Department
of Revenue, Quicken, and Microsoft's MoneyCentral, as
well as sites of traditional tax preparation and
accounting firms such as Jackson Hewitt, H&R Block,
and Deloitte & Touche.
But there are also some other, lesser-known sites that
offer a comprehensive menu of tax information and
news, such as www.TaxPlanet.com by nationally
syndicated columnist Gary Klott, and www.Fairmark.com
by Kaye Thomas, a tax attorney whose book "Consider
Your Options: Get the Most from Your Equity
Compensation" was just published.
And there are sites that allow you to pose a tax
question online and get an answer instantly.
One of the newest sites, by a Newton company called
iAskWeb, uses so-called natural language computer
technology to allow an Internet user to type in a tax
question in any number of ways and get the right
Someone who types in "Are there limits on deduction of
charitable contribution?" gets the same answer as
someone who types in "What are the limits on deduction
of charitable contribution?"
"We've got 1,500 answers now, with four to 10
questions pointing to each," said Maxim Grudin,
president of iAskWeb, who holds a doctorate in
artificial intelligence. "Altogether, the system can
answer several thousand questions."
Aside from tax information and the ability to print
forms and publications, some Web sites also offer
calculators to estimate taxes, a tax IQ test, and a
chart of average deductions taken by US taxpayers in
different income groups with which you can compare
your own situation.
Here is a roundup of some of the tax sites:
- www.irs.gov: This is the official IRS source for tax
filing instructions, forms, and publications. But it
also tries to be taxpayer-friendly, with an online
game show called "Braintaxers" and a "Digital Daily"
newsletter that's "faster than a speeding 1040- EZ."
The Web site is organized into several sections, with
the most useful information for last-minute filers
found in links entitled "Tax Info for You," "Tax Regs
in English," and "Forms & Pubs." The links are usually
found at the bottom of each Web page.
- www.state.ma.us/dor: You can download Massachusetts
tax forms and publications and learn about your filing
options and the latest state tax rulings and
regulations at this official site for the state
Department of Revenue.
For the really last-minute filers, you'll be happy to
find that here you are not alone. The DOR typically
receives 1 million returns - nearly one-third of all
returns filed - during the last week of tax season.
And you'll also be happy to learn that you have until
Tuesday, April 18, to file both the Massachusetts and
federal return. That's because the traditional filing
deadline of April 15 falls on a Saturday, and the next
business day, Monday, April 17, is the Patriot's Day
holiday in Massachusetts.
- www.TaxPlanet.com: Subtitled "All things tax for
individuals," this Internet site by syndicated
columnist Gary Klott offers a wealth of information
ranging from the latest tax news to a year-round tax
guide, to tax tips and downloadable IRS forms.
For instance, top headlines last week updated Internet
users on legislation to provide relief from the
so-called marriage tax and to protect taxpayers'
rights. The site is the only one reviewed that lets
users know that most Northeast taxpayers have until
April 18 to file, since the regional IRS center is in
Massachusetts and is closed on Patriot's Day.
- Particularly comprehensive is the tax library,
providing links to such information as IRS news,
General Accounting Office reports on the IRS,
congressional tax bills, and White House tax plans.
The site is heavy on graphics, however, and may be
slow for some computers.
- www.Fair mark.com: Subtitled "Tax Guide for
Investors," this comprehensive Web site by Fairmark
Press offers more than 700 pages of guidance, for
everyone from beginning investors to traders. Fairmark
Press published tax attorney Thomas' book "Consider
In the "Tax Guide for Traders," you can find out
whether your short-term trading may qualify you as a
"trader" by occupation for more favorable tax
treatment. But it also warns about the law's unclear
definition and other potential pitfalls.
Among other special issues covered in-depth here: Roth
IRAs, capital gains, mutual funds, custodial accounts
for minors, and compensation in stock and options. You
can also post a question on the site's message board
and link to tax forms.
- www.MoneyCentral.msn.com/ tax/home.asp: This
Microsoft tax site provides the typical summary of tax
law changes, advice on reducing taxes, and links to
tax forms. It also tries to sell you on Microsoft's
TaxSaver with a free download.
Some of the neatest features: A calculator you can use
to estimate your taxes, an interactive tax IQ test,
and an interactive deduction finder for such
categories as employee business expenses and investor
- www.Quicken.com/taxes: Aside from pitching TurboTax,
Quicken's tax program, and offering the usual tax
information, this site allows you to compare your
deductions to other US taxpayers in the same income
group. You can minimize your chances of being audited
by making sure your deductions aren't out of line with
US averages, although there's no guarantee, according
to the site.
There's also an exhaustive message board on such
topics as IRAs, capital gains, surviving an audit, and
education tax credits.
- www.iAskWeb.com: Company president Grudin says his
site uses technology that better simulates natural
language than the better- known "Ask Jeeves" site, and
that it provides more tax answers than can be found at
www.ask.com. He adds that being able to type in a tax
question directly is more efficient than having to
surf a Web site looking for the link to the right
The answers to general tax questions aren't yet fully
developed, but the answers to questions about IRAs
are, says Grudin. Internet users can go directly to
the "IRA Expert" at www.iAskWeb.com to type in their
questions. And they can test out the still-
in-development general tax system by typing their
questions in at www.iAsk Web.com/html/tax1.html.
The privately held iAskWeb is in the final stages of
negotiations with H.D. Vest, a financial services
firm, to make the technology available through
www.hdvest.com, according to Grudin. Nothing has been
signed yet. He also said iAskWeb "has entered into
negotiations with several large well-known tax sites,"
which he declined to publicly disclose.