of the Month: MarketWatch Tax Guide
APRIL 2007 -
MarketWatch.com is a commercial website that provides business news
and financial information for consumers, with a similar objective
to other investment-related websites reviewed by this column. MarketWatch’s
Tax Guide is located at www.marketwatch.com/pf/taxes
and available from www.marketwatch.com,
under “Taxes” on the “Personal Finance”
menu tab. Both are updated regularly.
Tax Guide is consumer-oriented, much of the information is fairly
sophisticated and should prove useful to tax professionals with
general individual tax practices. While other consumer tax-related
websites provide a variety of tools, the Tax Guide confines its
offerings to a news-article format. Most of the articles are written
by MarketWatch staff columnists, but some articles are linked
from external websites. Materials on the Tax Guide are free, although
registration and sign-up is required to receive e-newsletters
and post or respond to discussion group questions.
of the Tax Guide is fairly simple, as the main horizontal menu
bar is mainly for the parent website. The pull-down menu under
the banner headline includes links to Home, News & Commentary,
Markets, Mutual Funds & ETFs, Personal Finance, Tools &
Research, and My MarketWatch. The easiest way to navigate the
Tax Guide is to use the browser’s back button, or the Taxes
option under the Personal Finance tab to return to the Tax Guide
also take advantage of the site index on the parent MarketWatch
website to access the Tax Guide and its main features. The site
index is located in a small hyperlink at the bottom of all main
pages. It is also available under the “More Features”
hyperlink on the left side of the Tax Guide homepage.
features of the Tax Guide are the homepage Tax Guide newsletter,
the Tax Library, the Taxing Times weekly tax stories, Tax Tips,
and the tax area of the Discussion Groups. The site offers hyperlinks
to print or e-mail each article. Many article pages also provide
embedded links to external websites, as well as links to blog
posts and other articles that may be related.
on the homepage newsletter change frequently, as expected. Recent
articles indicate a level of technical sophistication that may
be attractive to tax practitioners. The stories focus on high-income
individuals, but all current events may be covered.
2006, the Tax Guide was the first source noted by this reviewer
to report that several expiring tax provisions were indeed extended—after
the 2006 tax forms had been finalized, of course. A more recent
visit found articles addressing the problems related to converting
tax refunds into direct deposits of IRA contributions, the report
that 3.5 million taxpayers paid the alternative minimum tax in
2006, and highlights of changes from the three major 2006 tax
laws. Others included how tax practitioners will be affected by
the extended deadline for providers to furnish 1099 forms and
the new “never-ending tax season” caused by the automatic
six-month filing extension. There also is an excellent article
to help tax professionals warn their clients about the true cost
of refund anticipation loans.
Library, Taxing Times, and Tax Tips
The Tax Library
and Taxing Times weekly tax stories can be located via a small
Top Sections index on the left side of the homepage, as well as
under Taxes on the site index. Tax Library articles are archived
back several years. The articles are presented with the most recent
listed first, and the selection can be broadened or narrowed by
the choice on a drop-down index, which offers all topics, filing
tips, deductions, and business taxes. The all-topics option includes
Taxing Times. The Tax Library also includes more articles than
are shown on the homepage. Taxing Times presents abstracts linked
to articles on the Tax Guide and other websites. Users can also
access archived editions.
are located about halfway down the center of the homepage. Recent
Tax Tips have included how to claim an aging parent as a dependent,
the saver’s credit, and appraisals for noncash donations.
Many Tax Tips include links to other articles and websites.
discussion board on MarketWatch is less developed than what would
be expected on websites targeted to tax professionals, but it
is still worth a look.
he tax discussion
group is part of the parent website, and is not specific to taxes.
Some “discussions” are essentially announcements posted
by MarketWatch, such as the 2006 mileage rates. The easiest way
to locate the tax discussion group is to select Discussions on
the Tools & Research main menu tab. On the Discussion homepage,
select the Topic Discussions menu tab, and then the Taxes hyperlink.
The group can also be reached by the Discussions title hyperlink
on the left side of the Tax Guide homepage. Free registration
is required to post, respond to, and view an entire conversation
B. Anders, PhD, CPA, is an associate professor of accounting
at St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, N.Y.