March 22, 2010

March 2010 Tax Tip

5 Great Online IRS Tools You Didn’t Know Existed

Though ranked higher than choosespain.com or ipanywhere.com, irs.gov is usually not the top destination for people leisurely surfing the web. But the government agency’s site can be a trove of information from its annual list of tax scams to avoid to a PDF of the agency’s original 1040, printed in 1913.

Here are five valuable tools on irs.gov you may have not known existed:

Online Small Business Calendar of Important Tax Dates
Though “Give your favorite CPA a hug” day is listed nowhere on this handy calendar, there are plenty of other dates of note such as the October 15th deadline for extended filers and the quarterly dates to file your estimated payments (if you do that sort of thing). The calendar can be viewed online or printed out as a PDF.

Find the calendar here.

Annual Withholding Calculator
As mentioned in a previous tax tip, getting your annual withholding on your W-4 close to zero is an excellent tax strategy unless you meant to lend the government money interest free. The IRS’s online withholding calculator will help you deduce the proper amount of income tax to withhold from your pay. Or how much to tip the waiter if you have no other resources on hand.

Calculate your withholdings here.

Get Your Refund Status
The IRS filed a record 155,490,000 returns in 2008 and expects to file even more than is year, so to find your needle in that venerable haystack you either need an inside man (great movie) inside or a computer. The IRS can generally provide refund status 72 hours after e-filing (three to four weeks if you paper file), and in some cases you can even change where your refund is mailed to you. See, the IRS isn’t that bad.

Check your refund status here.

Find Tax Deductible Charities
Not every charitable contribution is equal in the eyes of the government, so the agency keeps a list in Publication 78 of organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. Though the list is extensive, check the Additions to Cumulative List for recently added charities.

Check the list of tax deductible charities here.

Play the What If Game – IRS Version
Ever wondered what to do if your employer goes out of business (check Pub 4128) or you have to withdraw money from your IRA (read pub590). The IRS posts a handy list of “What If” scenarios of frequently asked tax questions. If you can’t find your specific topic, email the IRS directly here, though they will probably refer more complicated issues to your CPA.

Play the What If game here.

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