While the first daffodil or crocus may signal the return of the warming sun, the yellow of the daffodil may also bring to mind the warning yellow of the metaphoric traffic light-halfway between money’s green and the red face of frustration trying to decipher your applicable tax codes.
To keep your hunt for tax forms and information brief, here are some sites to help you.
Most filing forms are available on the Web in PDF (portable document format), and downloadable using standard Adobe Acrobat reader software, ready to print on a standard laser or inkjet printer. The IRS site is a treasure trove for all forms, and, in particular, a good source for the less-frequently-used, exotic ones such as “Certain Gambling Winnings” (W-2G) and “U.S. Departing Alien Income Tax Return” (1040C). However, as all 250 million Americans approach April 15, the IRS server is bound to become more taxed itself.
This year, Baker Library has the official 2000 Federal Tax Products (forms and publications) on CD-ROM. Ask at the main library desk for this helpful disc. It will be available on reserve until June 1st, 2001. Be sure to check individual forms to confirm that laser copies are allowed for filing the specific forms; almost all are, but checking beforehand may save time later.
If searching for such typical forms as 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ, try such web sites as 1040.com, H&R Block or TaxWorld. Many of these sites contain forms back to 1994, too; so if you are filing late due to an extension, or amending a filing for a previous year, you’ll have good resources.
Residents of Alaska, Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming are the lucky one-stop filers, with only Federal taxes due. The rest of us will have to file state returns with at least one state Department of Revenue, perhaps two or more. A good source of general state tax information is the Tax and Accounting Site Directory , with links to the Departments of Revenue (DOR) and tax forms for all 50 states and the District of Columbia and Guam.
Most state tax sites have search features to help you locate the more obscure sorts of forms should you need them. Many DOR’s also have telephone help lines or FAQ (“Frequently-Asked-Questions”) posted on the Web sites to help explain the more common sorts of problems that taxpayers may encounter.
Other Tax Tips, Help and General Information
Baker Library also has the 2001 edition of J.K. Lasser’s Your Income Tax in the Reference section of the Reading Room (Call number HJ4652 .J2). This handbook includes strategies and explanations for many of the finer points of filing.
A cautionary note about some of the tax information Web sites you might find when searching for answers to tax questions: accounting firms and companies that produce tax-filing software often produce such help sites. Such information is often meant to be a “teaser” to induce you to hire or buy from them. Legal disclaimers notwithstanding, the sites can still be a good place to start for basic questions. We’ve listed them below and at the Baker Library Featured Resource Page at
Sites and links:
Tax and Accounting Sites Directory If you’re a tax junkie whose interest in tax and tax theory goes beyond that of simply paying what you owe on time, you’ll love this meta-site hosted by accounting.about.com. Besides the obligatory links to federal and state personal income tax information, this site includes information on corporate and business tax, accounting, policy and statistics.
In addition to these web sites, most standard federal and state tax forms and instruction booklets are available in your local post office, including the Spangler and Harvard Square post offices. Finally, don’t forget your public libraries if you live off campus. Finish your taxes and get out in the sun… when it finally appears in Boston!
With Tax Day and the Boston Marathon again coinciding (April 16, 2001), you’ll want to have time and energy to enjoy the spring in your own step. If you’re not running, you can keep up with the Boston Marathon virtually by checking the Web site at Boston Marathon.org for scheduling and news. Since classes are not scheduled on Patriot’s Day/Marathon Day, you can always celebrate by watching it live.