Sunday, February 11, 2001
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Posted on: Sunday, February 11, 2001

No software needed for Net assistance

IRS provides many ways to pay up
How to get in touch with IRS via Internet, phone, fax

USA Today

Software programs such as TurboTax from Intuit and Kiplinger TaxCut from H&R Block E-Solutions still can be counted on to guide computer-savvy taxpayers through the intricacies of their tax returns, but now Internet users can skip the hassles of purchasing and installing software altogether.

Intuit’s TurboTax for the Web comes in two versions: TurboTax EZ for filing simple returns and Turbo Tax for those who plan to itemize or whose tax situations are a little more complex. If you’re not sure which category you fall into, Intuit recommends you start with TurboTax EZ. An online questionnaire lets you know whether you should bump up to the other version.

Both versions say they let you figure out your taxes free, but such claims are somewhat self-serving because you have to pay to file or even print the returns out. The EZ service costs $6.95; the regular version is $14.95.

H&R Block: If you want the added comfort of having a tax professional peer over your virtual shoulder, you might want to try one of H&R Block’s online filing services.

The cost of completing your own return is $19.95. Like TurboTax for the Web, H&R Block’s Web service will walk you step-by-step through the process.

Say you complete your tax return and find yourself a little uncertain about one of the deductions you’ve claimed. For an additional $29.95, an H&R Block tax professional will look over your return, sign it and stand by it should you be audited. The extra money may be well worth the peace of mind.

If you don’t want to fill out the paperwork necessary to file your tax return, you can submit your tax information via the Net and one of H&R Block’s tax preparers will tackle the entire job for $99.95.

Even if you’ve already purchased your tax software or you’ve hired a real-world tax professional to prepare your 2000 return, the Web can help you make the most of your yearly finances.

The IRS’s Web site can get you up to date on the latest tax news or changes that might affect your filing situation, and it features forms and publications that are ready for download. The site is also helpful for those with unique tax situations, such as people with additional income from side businesses.

Most sites that sell tax products and services also are packed with information on the subject because merchants hope the content will draw taxpayers’ eyeballs and lead to sales.

For example, H&R Block’s tax site has a handy tax calculator you can whip out if you haven’t had time to do your taxes but want an educated guess of how much you can expect to get back — or pay.

Portals: Portals also are a good source of tax information because they tend to feature timely information. Yahoo’s Tax Center, for example, provides information on and downloads of federal and state forms.

The breadth of tax information available to anyone with a modem and a PC might not be as valuable as having a father available to do your taxes. But it might be the next best thing.

How to get in touch with IRS via Internet, phone, fax

How to get IRS information and help via the Internet, the telephone and the fax:

Internet. The Internal Revenue Service Web site at has tax forms, publications, instructions, answers to frequently asked questions, tax regulations and news releases. There’s even a list of IRS job openings.

Telephone. For tax questions and other general information, call the main number at 1 (800) 829-1040. To order forms, instructions and publications, call 1 (800) 829-3676. For pre-recorded answers to 150 common tax topics and to check the status of a refund, call TeleTax at 1 (800) 829-4477.

Fax. More than 100 of the most common tax forms are available via fax 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling (703) 368-9694 from the telephone on a fax machine.

Taxpayer advocate. For help with tax problems that couldn’t be resolved through previous contact with the IRS, call the Taxpayer Advocate’s office at 1 (877) 777-4778 to find a local representative.

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