Finding a place to prepare taxes online isn't too difficult these days. Finding good advice on how to prepare your taxes can be a different story. Tax return preparation advice can come from a variety of sources including government, businesses, and nonprofits. This article covers some of the main ones.
Believe it or not, one of the best online tax preparation resources is the IRS. However, you must watch your ".govs" and ".coms". "Irs.com" is a cleverly disguised information site for an online tax preparation service. Despite the building's official appearance, stripped-down look, all clicks lead to tiered submission options that can get your taxes to the real IRS and put some cash in their pocket at the same time. I think the IRS.gov site looks a bit better, actually, and this is where you'll need to go to get some real government tax information.
http://Www.irs.gov has improved every year in defining procedures and rule changes in plain English. They ultimately chose to assume, as we all do, that tax preparation is doomed to be a confusing process. Just as their phone interaction improved, so did their website. It's designed for the consumer, not the accountant, and it's a good place to start.
H&R Block is something of an eight hundred pound gorilla in the tax prep game; Not only have they run a storefront network for generations, but they've also acquired one of the two leading tax preparation software, Tax Cut. Their website has a collection of related articles that may be of use; topics include tax scams, deductions for higher education, alternative minimum tax, and other issues that you might spend a lot of time researching. If you're lucky, they wrote it – and their articles are professional and comprehensive. Apart from that, the site wants to sell its online and software versions of Tax Cut. http://Www.hrblock.com
There is a plethora of online tax preparation services available these days. Some of them will put you in touch with an accounting firm, a few will sell you a software package and send it to you, but most of them will walk you through the online forms. When you are finished, you can file your federal form electronically. Some of the sites online, but not all, also provide condition statements. You can find a full list of services available on Yahoo at http://dir.yahoo.com/Business_and_Economy/Business_to_Business/Financial_Services/Accounting/Firms/Tax_Accounting/Return_Preparation/Online_Preparation_and_Electronic_Filing/
If the idea of putting all your financial soul online through a faceless website makes you nervous, that's okay. E-thieves know the opportunity when they see it, and tax forms are a great resource for identity theft. Microsoft has a good page on the subject, with many recommendations and resources to protect you during the electronic tax preparation process. Worth a look http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/privacy/taxes.mspx.
Google has a great tax preparation page that provides categories of services such as online services and software packages, tax forms, and tax law. They continue to provide an excellent list of specific sites for tax preparation information. It includes some commercial sites, but also lists specific IRS pages, consumer tax information sites, consumer review sites for online services, and sites with professional advice.
AARP has a Tax Preparation Assistance Program that is staffed with trained volunteers. This service is essentially an old-fashioned face-to-face arrangement just like you would with an accountant. However, it's free and nationwide in scope. You can visit their site and find out how it works and where to find their support sites at http://www.aarp.org/money/taxaide/taxpreparation/. Last year they prepared statements for two million people.
These are just a selection of starting points; there remains, as always, a personal choice: to return online to e-César what is e-Césars.