Twenty Questions About Tax Resources on the Internet

By Peter A. Karl III

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1. What resources for tax information exist on the Internet?

There are three basic sources of tax information on the Internet: subscription-based websites, online professional discussion groups, and specialty sites in taxation.

Fee-based tax research sites available to paid subscribers include the following:

With the increasing popularity of the web, tax professionals have developed a forum for interaction, including the posting of questions and answers for peers to provide feedback and opinions. For example, Taxsites (taxsites.com) has a grid of topics for tax, accounting, and payroll issues. Another website, Accountants World (www.accountantsworld.com/default.aspx), is open to anyone, but only members may post questions.

Specialty sites in taxation featuring legislative and regulatory resources, both government-sponsored and proprietary, are discussed in the questions below.

2. What does the IRS website offer?

The IRS’s website (www.irs.gov) provides several resources. Any federal tax form (from 1992 onward) can be downloaded, with accompanying instructions, as well as the IRS’s publications, Treasury Regulations, weekly Internal Revenue Bulletins (IRB), and the audit technique for various businesses. Users can use the IRS Newsstand feature to subscribe to the IRS Daily Digital e-mail newsletter. The IRS Newsroom provides briefings and recommendations on tax-related topics. The IRS’s website can also be searched from the U.S. government’s official web portal (www.firstgov.gov), which allows access to other federal agencies’ websites.

3. Where can the Internal Revenue Code and Treasury Regulations be found?

Recent amendments have expanded the IRC to almost 3 million words. The tax code site www.fourmilab.ch/ustax/ustax.html outlines the code sections in sequential order and has a word and phrase search feature. Title 26, the Internal Revenue Code, can also be found within the general legislative site (uscode.house.gov) or on the website
straylight.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode26. Treasury Regulations can be searched on the GPO Access site (www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/26cfrv1_03.html).

There is an IRS Index for the tax regulations
(www.irs.gov/taxpros/content/0,,id=103728,00.html) and for the plain language regulations (www.irs.gov/taxpros/content/0,,id=103728,00.html).

4. Where can information on legislation, such as proposed tax bills in Congress, be found?

Tax-related legislative information pending in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate can be found at the House Ways and Means Committee (waysandmeans.house.gov), Senate Finance Committee (finance.senate.gov), and the Library of Congress’ “Thomas” legislative portal (thomas.loc.gov). Because the two houses of Congress work independently, any differences in proposed legislation will be forwarded to the Joint Committee on Taxation (www.house.gov/jct/) for reconciliation. Recent legislative highlights can be found at tax.cchgroup.com/news/legislation/.

5. What sources offer access to IRS administrative pronouncements?

Tax Links (www.taxlinks.com) contains links to published IRS Revenue Rulings from 1954 through January 2003 and Revenue Procedures from 1995 on. There are also sites for private letter rulings (www.irs.gov/foia/lists/0,,id=97705,00.html) and Internal Revenue Bulletins (www.irs.gov/businesses/lists/0,,id=98230,00.html). Other resources for pronouncements include www.legalbitstream.com and www.smbiz.com.

6. What reference resources exist for estate and elder planning?

Two excellent proprietary sites for estate planning can be found at www.estateplanninglinks.com and www.estateattorney.com. The United States Government Administration on Aging (www.aoa.gov/) has published a public service site for elders. Another resource is the National Association of Financial & Estate Planning (www.nafep.com).

7. What website is recommended for state tax information?

Two all-inclusive websites of state tax information are Tax Sites (www.taxsites.com/state.html) and Sister States (www.sisterstates.com). In addition, the Federation of Tax Administrators (www.taxadmin.org) and state links on the IRS’s site (www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=99021,00.html) can assist in this area.

8. Where can one look when researching tax strategies for investment and business real estate holdings?

If seller financing is involved, for applicable federal rate (AFR) information, www.pmstax.com/afr/index.shtml can be utilized. When one looks for calculators for mortgages in various payment forms, useful locations are www.bankrate.com/brm/amortization-calculator.asp and ray.met.fsu.edu/~bret/amortize.html. If a section 1031 exchange is being considered, 1031exchangetax.com is an informative site.

9. Where can judicial information be researched for tax cases?

The United States Tax Court website (www.ustaxcourt.gov) allows users to search cases from May 1986 to the present. Links to different federal and state courts can be found at www.uscourts.gov. Legalbitstream (www.Legalbitstream.com) features a database to federal tax-related cases. U.S. Supreme Court decisions can be searched from www.findlaw.com/casecode/supreme.html.

10. What professional accounting organizations have tax-related resources on their websites?

The AICPA (www.aicpa.org/members/div/tax/index.htm) and the NYSSCPA (www.nysscpa.org/taxresourcesa.htm) have sections devoted to taxation resources, as does the National Association of Tax Professionals (www.natptax.com).

11. Which websites offer international tax information?

To develop a working knowledge of foreign government tax information, visit inter-lawyer.com/tax/laws. This site provides direct access to foreign tax departments, such as Canada’s revenue department. An alternative approach is to translate foreign-language websites (e.g., the German Tax Department) into English through an online translation tool found at as www.babelfish.altavista.com. Money magazine’s online currency converter can be helpful in converting foreign currency amounts to U.S. dollars (money.cnn.com/markets/currencies).

12. What tax material is available from law school libraries?

Internet users can access vast sources of information from numerous law school libraries. These resources can be gathered from central sources such as the Washburn University School of Law (
www.washlaw.edu/subject/taxation.html), the USC Law Legal Journals Listing (lawweb.usc.edu/library/resources/journals.html), and the Villanova University School of Law Library (www.law.villanova.edu/library/researchguides/taxdocuments.asp). A recommended tax resource is the Legal Information Institute of Cornell University (www.law.cornell.edu).

13. Where can information be found about specific charitable organizations when a donation is being considered?

Philanthropic Research, Inc. (www.guidestar.org/search/index.jsp), provides specific financial and tax information about charitable organizations to evaluate an organization before donating (see also www.charitynavigator.org). The comparable IRS site is www.irs.gov/charities/contributors/index.html. An annual publication from the New York State Attorney General’s Office, “Pennies for Charities” (www.oag.state.ny.us/charities/charities.html), outlines the portion of income received by specific charities after administrative expenses. The Better Business Bureau runs www.give.org, while the National Center for Charitable Statistics (nccsdataweb.urban.org/FAQ/index.php?category=31) makes useful data available.

14. When preparing IRS Form 433-A (Collections Statement for Individuals), where are the tables of IRS allowances for expenses located?

When negotiating an offer in compromise or an installment payment arrangement, the IRS has established maximums for the following expense categories:

The IRS TRAC website (trac.syr.edu/tracirs/) provides detailed data from a variety of sources about IRS civil and criminal enforcement.

15. Where is information about asset valuation located?

For the valuation of assets, there are several suggested sites:

16. Where can information about the laws affecting the formation and operation of not-for-profit organizations be found?

The following websites address the legal and tax issues facing exempt organizations:

17. What online tax resources are available from the Government Printing Office (GPO)?

The Federal Register (www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/index.html) is an authoritative source of information for proposed tax regulations. The information in this database is accessible for 1994 to the
present.

18. What accounting publications can be read online?

The list includes:

The site www.findarticles.com includes the aforementioned publications and others such as the Attorney-CPA, which contains excellent periodic tax updates.

19. What websites could be considered the best tax links?

The following are some of the best:

20. What other qualities should be considered when checking tax resources on the Internet?

Stability and consistency. Some organizations have created and promoted websites only to abandon them. Even some of the 90 sites listed above may not exist in six months. The best advice is to always check the date of the last revision, particularly at proprietary sites.


Peter A. Karl III, CPA, JD, is a partner with the law firm Paravati, Karl, Green & DeBella, in Utica, N.Y., and a professor of law and taxation at the State University of New York—Institute of Technology (Utica-Rome). He is also the author of www.1031exchange tax.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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