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Use the Web to ease those taxing situations
March 10, 1996
By JIM BROOKS
At this time of year, there are few things more anticipated (or dreaded) than word from your tax preparer that you'll receive a refund (or owe more taxes).
For home computer owners seeking tax help or advice, the Internet has much to offer.
SHAREWARE.COM. Tax preparation software is available for most computer operating systems. One of the best places to search for it is at shareware.com, a Web site sponsored by the folks who bring you the "C/Net Central'' television program.
The shareware concept is a try-before-you-buy method of distribution. If you download a program, try it and like it, you contact the author of the software to pay and register it. If you don't like the package, simply delete it.
Shareware.com is a storehouse of information on shareware, and after using their searchable index, I downloaded a software package for my PC called Share-TAX/1040.
Within about 30 minutes after the software was installed, I had freshly printed -- and completed -- 1040 forms.
Regardless of your operating system, I recommend shareware.com for the latest in try-before-you-buy software.
TAX-RELATED WEB SITES. NetTax '96 is one of the more interesting tax sites to try.
NetTax '96 is unique because it offers you the opportunity to calculate your taxes on-line Ï at no charge.
The easy-to-use forms include on-line help and very straightforward instructions. Even I could do it.
There are some limitations. The on-line 1040 can't figure rental income, tax penalties due, or some of the more obscure deductions, but it's handy for what-if scenarios: for example, figuring how much would it be worth to contribute to an IRA.
If you're a Web geek like me, you might want to download Netscape Navigator 2.0 before you visit this site. NetTax '96 uses frames, a Netscape HTML extension that divides your browser screen into separate windows. Frames capability isn't necessary to visit the site.
NetTax '96 also offers a complete list of IRS forms to download and a section where you can estimate your tax liability under a flat tax system.
1040.COM 1040.com is another tax-related Web site, chock full of forms to download (even federal tax forms going back to 1991), instructions, a searchable version of the U.S. Tax Code, and links to related sites.
DIGITAL DAILY. The IRS' own Web site, The Digital Daily, is designed to look like the front page of a newspaper.
While taxes are serious stuff (just forget to pay and find out how serious), The Digital Daily uses an entertaining, tongue-in-cheek approach. Its motto claims the site is "Faster than a speeding 1040-EZ.''
The Web site offers highlights the latest developments and tax-related news from the IRS, answers to frequently asked tax questions, and information about the latest tax forms.
NEST EGG. Nest Egg is a Web site sponsored by IDD Financial Services, and offers an on-line version of the company's advertising-based financial publication, Nest Egg magazine.
The site contains the same content as the magazine Ï financial investment information targeted at families with high-income and a high net worth.
Nest Egg has links to other tax-related sites, plus the online content of back issues dating back to 1994.
TAXING BUSINESS. An ever-increasing number of businesses offering their tax expertise are hitting the web.
H & R Block, the world's largest tax preparation firm, is on the Web.
They won't figure your taxes while you wait on-line, but you can find a complete index of their offices in the U.S. and Canada, and information on their tax preparation training courses.
FlashTax is just one of several tax preparation business that do offer on-line submission of your income tax information.
The site offers data encryption to protect your data. After completing the on-line forms, FlashTax's staff will review your return for accuracy, and mail you completed forms ready for your signature.
LOCAL WEB SITES. I'm still on the lookout for World-Wide Web home pages with local ties.
Comments and questions about this column may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.myoldkentuckyhome.com on the World Wide Web.
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