The Taxman Returneth

Don’t let those cold temperatures outside fool you. Although it feels like it should still be the middle of January outside, tax season is upon us once again. So as you assemble your W-2’s, 1099s and the pile of paperwork seems to keep growing, here are some resources to help you find the forms and information you need quickly.

Federal Taxes
Most filing forms are available on the Web in PDF (portable document format) so they can be downloaded using standard Adobe Acrobat reader software and then printed out on a standard laser or inkjet printer. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) site is a treasure trove of forms, and, in particular, a good source for the less-frequently-used, exotic ones such as “Certain Gambling Winnings” (W-2G) and “U.S. Departing Alien Income Tax Return” (1040C). As April 15 approaches, however, the IRS server is bound to become overtaxed as well, so it’s best to start your downloading early.

Baker Library has commonly used forms onsite, across from the main desk. An IRS binder containing all reproducible 2002 forms and instructions, for both individuals and businesses, is also on reserve at the main library desk.

If you are searching for such typical forms as 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ, try the website , where you can find forms back until 1991. Federal tax forms back until 1992 can also be found on the IRS website at .

If you are filing late due to an extension, or amending a filing for a previous year, you can find older forms at these sites. To be sure that you are up on the latest changes to the tax code, check out IRS Publication 553, Highlights of 2002 Tax Changes

. Topics covered here include changes in student loan interest deductions and IRA contributions credits, among others.

State Taxes
Residents of Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming are the lucky one-stop filers, with only Federal taxes due.

The rest of us will have to file state returns with at least one state Department of Revenue, perhaps two or more. Even in New Hampshire and Tennessee, you are now required to report dividends and interest income. A good source of general state tax information is the Tax and Accounting Site Directory , with links to the Departments of Revenue (DOR) and tax forms for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Most state tax sites also have search features to help you locate the more obscure sorts of forms should you need them. Many DORs also have telephone help lines or FAQ’s (“Frequently-Asked-Questions”) posted on their websites to help explain the more common sorts of problems that taxpayers may encounter. The one for Massachusetts can be found at

Other Tax Tips, Help and General Information
Baker Library has the 2002 edition of J.K. Lasser’s Your Income Tax in the Reference section of the Reading Room (Call number HJ4652 .J2).

This handbook includes strategies and explanations for many of the finer points of filing. Another resource that individuals who need to report capital gains on stock sales may find useful is the CCH Capital Changes Reporter. This online service provides comprehensive coverage of changes to a corporation’s capital structure such as stock splits, which have federal income tax effects on security holders. It is accessible from any of the workstations in the Baker Library reading room.

There is also a great deal of tax information available on the Internet. A
cautionary note about some of the tax information web sites you might find when searching for answers to tax questions: accounting firms and companies that produce tax-filing software often produce such help sites.

Such information is often meant to be a “teaser” to induce you to hire or buy from them. Legal disclaimers notwithstanding, these sites can still be good places to start for basic questions. We’ve listed some of them below. You can also find these (and more) in the Tax Guide on the Baker Library website .

Tax and Accounting Sites Directory : If you’re a tax junkie whose interest in tax and tax theory goes beyond that of simply paying what you owe on time, you’ll love this meta-site. Besides the obligatory links to federal and state personal income tax information, this site includes information on corporate and business tax, international tax law, accounting, policy and statistics. : Provides lists of typical ways to cut your tax bill. An H&R Block product.
H&R Block Refund Calculator

: A quick and dirty way to estimate what you’ll be getting back — or will need to pay.

IRS Tax FAQ < >: These questions and answers can help you wade through the federal tax jungle.

In addition to these sources, most standard federal and state tax forms and instruction booklets are available at your local post office, including the Spangler and Harvard Square post offices. Finally, don’t forget your public library if you live off campus.

Yes, tax time can be a bit stressful, but there are lots of resources to help you on your way.