Linkapalooza! The 21 best websites for tax help

March 25, 2011

A tax form is pictured on tax deadline day at the main Post Office in New York April 15, 2009.  REUTERS/Chip East  It’s tax season. Of course, you’ve got questions. And not just “why do I have to fill out these annoying forms in the middle of spring?” If you’re doing your taxes, you’re probably wondering about all kinds of things, like (1) was there a stimulus credit in 2010? and (2) Can I deduct the points on my last refinance? and (3) Where did I put that receipt for all the books I donated? and (4) Why isn’t my accountant answering the phone at 2 a.m.?

Happily, answers to at least half of those questions are only a click away. Welcome to Linkapalooza! (The tax season version.) Here are 21 of the best websites to get you through tax season.

*Start with the IRS. The Internal Revenue Service’s own site is excellent. Copies of every form, instructions, links that will enable you to track your refund and direct links to free online filing to qualified taxpayers.

*Find the deductions. Maybe if you look at a few comprehensive lists of tax deductions, you’ll get inspired. Find laundry lists at the websites of tax preparer James Maertin and accounting firm Accent Accounting. If you’re a blogger, check out the list of items you can deduct, as recommended by Wealth Informatics.

* Get organized. List and evaluate all of your noncash charitable contributions at It’s Deductible from TurboTax or DeductionPro from H&R Block. You can guesstimate your refund (or bill) by using the Moneychimp tax calculator.

*Get some help. If you fit the right demographic, you can get free tax advice and prep help from the AARP Foundation’s Tax Aide program or the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, aimed at low and moderate income taxpayers. The IRS is opening offices all over the country on Saturday, March 26, just to answer questions.

* Choose the best tax prep software for you. Consider price, convenience, interface, accuracy and fit for your own tax issues. At Top Ten Reviews you can find a comparison and ratings for the top nine (I know, it should be ten, right?) programs, including costs and functionality. And if you make less than $58,000, you can prepare and file your tax return online for free. Want to find a real person to do your taxes for you? You can check the National Association of Enrolled Agents or the National Association of Tax Professionals.

* End the confusion. Still not sure, after all the rhetoric and legislation, what’s in and what’s out for 2010? TurboTax offers a year-by-year guide. CCH offers a 2010 tax year in review. And note the special breaks that passed at year end to benefit savers and investors, here at Prism Money.

* Take a break. Just need some good tax-related entertainment? Humorists take their taxes seriously, as evidenced by the many web sites that are dedicated to pithy quotesone-liners and limericks.

* Peer into the future. The Tax Policy Center has a guide to the tax proposals in President Obama’s 2012 budget. And here on Prism Money is an overview of the issues at stake in the coming debate on tax reform. Not that any of that is likely to be enacted. But still. It might take your mind off of the 2010 forms still sitting on your desk.
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