of the Month: taxes.about.com
Susan B. Anders
JANUARY 2006 - About.com’s
“Your Guide to Tax Planning: U.S.” is one of
many topical guides available from the About.com web portal.
The tax guide can be found at taxes.about.com, or from www.about.com
via the “money” channel. At the time of this
review, About.com offered 24 content channels, containing
hundreds of subjects and managed by individual topical advisors
called “guides,” who contribute original articles
and other materials. The guide for the tax material is William
Perez, a former IRS employee.
familiar with About.com will find the format similar. About.com
content is directed toward the average user and not necessarily
at experts; however, the user-friendliness of the websites,
as well as the broad coverage, makes them good resources
for practitioners, educators, and students. Regarding the
tax guide, some of the materials are probably more useful
for tax professionals than for average taxpayers.
of the tax guide resources that were examined for this review
were available free to all users, but accompanied by many
advertisements and sponsored links. Advertisements vary
throughout the website and are keyed to the specific content
of the topics covered.
organization of the website makes it easy to use and is
one of the main reasons that tax professionals might be
interested in it. The center of the homepage is devoted
to a lead article written by the tax guide, links to a variety
of other current articles, software reviews, and advertisements.
At the time of this review, the main article concerned the
release of final answers to the enrolled agents’ examination,
and other links addressed partial-payment installment agreements
and state tax amnesties. Previous homepage articles have
addressed tax reform, the calculation of taxable Social
Security benefits, and changes in taxpayers’ mailing
homepage and the main subsidiary pages utilize the same
left-hand vertical table of contents listing of hyperlinks,
which makes navigation easy. The main headings are Essentials,
Taxes Offers, Articles & Resources, Tools, and Forums.
Taxes Offers and Tools include links to commercial sponsors.
Essentials varies, with links to subsidiary webpages for
Forms 1040-EZ, 1040A, and 1040, 2005 tax rates, and hurricane
tax relief. Articles & Resources is revised periodically,
but generally includes more than a dozen topics, such as
the latest tax news, tax amnesty, tax terms, and how to
find a tax preparer.
main reason that tax professionals would be interested in
“Your Guide to Tax Planning: U.S.” is the quick,
user-friendly access to resources. Even though the IRS website
has recently been redesigned, it is still easier to access
some of the IRS materials from About.com’s more limited
selection of resources.
interesting feature is the tax guide’s step-by-step
and line-by-line instructions for completing Forms 1040-EZ,
1040A, and 1040. “Pay Off Tax Debts” and “Tax
Amnesty” articles, under Articles & Resources,
include general information on delinquent federal tax liabilities
as well as specific information on many state amnesty programs.
“Latest Tax News” offers links to tax updates,
including the new rules on the uniform definition of a qualifying
child and a link to the IRC and Treasury Regulations search
feature on the IRS website.
B. Anders, PhD, CPA, is an associate professor of
accounting at St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure,