of the Month: SmartMoney’s Tax Guide
Susan B. Anders
MARCH 2008 -
The SmartMoney.com Tax Guide (www.smartmoney.com/tax)
features articles on individual and small business taxation, online
calculators, and other resources. The Tax Guide is part of the SmartMoney
online financial publishing group, which covers investing, personal
finance, and small business. Although the website is aimed at individual
taxpayers, preparers may find the material useful when checking
on current events or seeking ideas to better communicate with clients.
Educators and students also will find the variety of resources quite
interesting and fun to read.
SmartMoney main pages are organized using a left-side navigational
index. The homepage index links to “portfolio,” “tools
& maps,” “stocks & options,” and “personal
finance,” which connects to the Tax Guide. The indices on
the individual main pages link to additional resources. It is
easiest to navigate the site by using the link at the top or on
the left-side menu to return to the homepage.
two-part table of contents allows users to quickly find information.
The webpage is updated and reorganized periodically. At the time
of this review, the lead topic (“tax matters”) was
followed by the subheadings of ”worksheets,” “investment-related
taxes,” “work and business taxes,” “taxes
and retirement accounts,” “filing your taxes,”
and “home and family taxes.” Featured articles and
excerpts are highlighted under each subheading. Additional articles
and other resources for these topics, including worksheets, are
presented in a condensed index at the bottom of the main page.
Guide articles feature links allowing users to add articles to
their news alerts and to read or post comments. Column pages offer
links to related articles, as well as to other SmartMoney webpages.
The five latest comments on the story appear at the end of each
column. With free registration, users can post their own comments.
Each article has options for viewing, printing, and sharing the
webpage. Links are provided to e-mail the author and view an archive
of the author’s work. Users
may also view an archive of articles organized by topic and date.
lead “tax matters” column at the time of this review
was “What’s New for Your Tax Return,” which
addressed the AMT patch, the income exclusion for discharges of
principal residence debt, the extension of the unemployment tax
surcharge, and the tax-free treatment of certain benefits received
by victims of the Virginia Tech shooting incident. Primers on
a variety of topics (e.g., IRAs, homeownership) are scattered
throughout the website, generally linked to column pages.
“home and family taxes” topic includes “Understanding
the Kiddie Tax,” which addresses changes in the maximum
age and unearned income thresholds, provides examples and tax-avoidance
strategies, and presents the new rules for 2008. “The 1040
Is a Great Tool for Planning” is a must-read for practitioners
looking to increase their value-added services provided to individual
your taxes” offers 2007 and 2008 tax rate schedules with
calculators for the itemized deduction phase-out and self-employment
taxes. “What Forms Do You Need?” is a nice summary
of basic federal tax forms.
and retirement accounts” presents “Seniors: A New
Way to Give,” covering qualified charitable distributions
from IRAs. “Unusual IRA Investments” offers food-for-thought
on suitable alternative investments. “Work and business
taxes” links to tax-specific resources on SmartMoney’s
“Small Biz” site.
Tax Guide main page provides several worksheet and calculator
resources. While there is no one-stop-shopping way to view all
of the calculators, users can save the worksheets for a low-cost
subscription. Worksheet webpages offer links to related Tax Guide
articles and other calculators, as well as to similar content
on other SmartMoney webpages.
“home and family taxes” worksheets include the “marriage
penalty,” estate taxes, the “nanny tax,” and
home sale gains. “Investment-related taxes” offers
calculators for taxes on incentive stock options and nonqualified
stock options, as well as capital gains. Users can calculate their
average tax rate and marginal rate under “filing your taxes.”
The worksheets under “taxes and retirement accounts”
cover maximum IRA contributions and the after-tax value of different
kinds of IRAs.
B. Anders, PhD, CPA, is a professor of accounting at St.
Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, N.Y.