Sifting through the Internet to find the answer to a specific question can be a daunting task. This article compiles some of the most useful online tax resources, based on twenty tax-related questions every CPA has asked at one time or another.
What Resources for Tax Information Exist on the Internet?
There are three basic sources of tax information on the Internet: subscription-based websites (including e-libraries), online professional discussion groups, and specialty websites in taxation.
Fee-based online tax research services include the following (the first three have mobile apps available for iOS and Android):
- Bloomberg BNA’s “Tax Center” app for access to its online portfolio service (http://www.bna.com)
- Wolters Kluwer CCH’s mobile app, which connects to its online “Intelliconnect” platform (https://www.cchgroup.com)
- Thomson Reuters’s “Checkpoint Mobile” app (http://tmsnrt.rs/2pspICN)
- Parker Tax Pro includes within its library such features as 22 volumes of expert analysis, biweekly tax bulletins, and tax cases dating from 1924 (https://www.parkertaxpublishing.com)
- The Tax Book offers online tax research, CPE courses, and client handouts (https://www.thetaxbook.com/index.asp)
Two examples of electronic libraries available online are:
- Thomson Reuters’s Practitioner’s Publishing Company’s (PPC) “Proview” app, offering its Quickfinder series and other PPC publications as e-books (http://tmsnrt.rs/2psnV0F)
- The Leimberg Library’s “Tools and Techniques” series, which contains 11 titles ranging from estate planning to employee benefit and retirement planning, along with the “Tax Facts Q&A” series, which includes insurance, employee benefits, investments, and individuals and small business as topics (http://www.nationalunderwriter.com)
An example of an online professional discussion group is the Accountants World website, http://www.accountantsworld.com/default.aspx, which allows anyone to view but only registered members to post questions.
What Does the IRS Website Offer?
The IRS’s Latest News web page, at https://www.irs.gov/uac/latest-news, includes news releases and access to e-News subscriptions. The IRS Tax Professionals webpage is also useful and can be found at https://www.irs.gov/for-tax-pros, along with Basic Tools for Tax Professionals at http://bit.ly/2r9lgpN. The IRS’s website can also be searched from the U.S. government’s official web portal (http://www.usa.gov), which allows access to other federal agencies’ websites. The tax analysis website of the U.S. Treasury Department (http://bit.ly/2pG9kKY) allows a researcher to find resources and organizations dedicated to tax policy information. The IRS recently launched a tool for taxpayers to check their tax account balances online (http://bit.ly/2r1rQ4q). The IRS website also has sections devoted to specific topics, such as—
- Affordable Care Act tax provisions (https://www.irs.gov/affordable-care-act);
- The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (http://bit.ly/2pFBmpj); and
- Identity Protection: Prevention, Detection, and Victim Assistance (https://www.irs.gov/individuals/identity-protection)
Where Can the Internal Revenue Code and Treasury Regulations Be Found?
The official tax code site, http://www.fourmilab.ch/uscode/26usc/, outlines sections in sequential order and has a word and phrase search feature. Title 26, the Internal Revenue Code, can also be found within the general legislative site at http://uscode.house.gov or from the Legal Information Institute of Cornell University at http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26. Treasury Regulations can be searched at http://bit.ly/2eeOaNY.
Which Sources Offer Access to IRS Administrative Pronouncements?
Legalbitstream offers a site (http://bit.ly/2r1dJw1) that contains links to published IRS Revenue Rulings and Revenue Procedures. In addition, the IRS has sites for private letter rulings (http://bit.ly/2r7W6Hr) and Internal Revenue Bulletins (http://bit.ly/2qA0jr1 or http://bit.ly/2eeOaNY).
Where Can Judicial Information Be Researched for Tax Cases?
The United States Tax Court website (http://www.ustaxcourt.gov) allows users to search cases from this judicial body. U.S. Supreme Court decisions can be searched at http://bit.ly/2q9iZwZ; links to different federal and state courts can be found at http://www.uscourts.gov. Legalbitstream (http://www.legalbitstream.com) features a database of federal tax–related cases.
What Tax Material Is Available from Law School Libraries?
Internet users can access vast sources of information from numerous law school libraries. These resources can be gathered from central sources such as Cornell’s Legal Information Institute (http://www.law.cornell.edu), the Washburn University School of Law (http://www.washlaw.edu/subject/taxation.html), the USC Law Legal Journals Listing (http://libguides.usc.edu/az.php), and the Villanova University School of Law Library (http://www.library.villanova.edu/Research/Dat).
Where Can Information on Federal Tax Legislation Be Found?
Tax-related legislative information pending in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate can be found at the sites for the House Ways and Means Committee (http://www.waysandmeans.house.gov) and the Senate Finance Committee (http://www.finance.senate.gov), along with the Library of Congress (https://www.congress.gov/). Because the two houses of Congress work independently, any differences in proposed legislation will be forwarded to the Joint Committee on Taxation (http://www.house.gov/jct/) for reconciliation.
Where Can Information on State Tax Legislation Be Found?
Which Websites Offer International Tax Information?
To develop a working knowledge of foreign government tax information, visit http://www.inter-lawyer.com/tax/laws. An alternative approach is to translate foreign-language websites (e.g., the German Tax Department, http://www.bzst.de) into English through an online tool such as Google Translate (https://translate.google.com).
What Reference Resources Exist for Estate and Elder Planning?
Two proprietary sites for estate planning can be found at http://www.estateplanninglinks.com and http://www.estateattorney.com. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services (http://www.hhs.gov) provides answers on topics related to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
Where Can One Find Tax Strategies for Investment and Business Real Estate Holdings?
If seller financing is involved, applicable federal rate (AFR) information can be found at http://pmstax.com/afr. One useful source for mortgage calculators in various payment forms is Bankrate’s mortgage calculator at http://bit.ly/2psliMh. An informative site for section 1031 exchanges is http://www.1031exchangetax.com.
Which Professional Accounting Organizations Have Tax-related Resources on Their Websites?
The AICPA (http://www.aicpa.org) and the NYSSCPA (http://www.nysscpa.org/home) have sections devoted to taxation resources, as does the National Association of Tax Professionals (http://www.natptax.com).
Where Can Information about Specific Charitable Organizations Be Found?
Philanthropic Research, Inc. (http://www.guidestar.org/search) provides specific financial and tax information about charitable organizations for evaluation before donating, as do http://www.charitynavigator.org and http://www.give.org. An annual publication from the New York State Attorney General’s Office, “Pennies for Charities,” outlines the portion of income received by specific charities after administrative expenses (http://bit.ly/2qx9CYE); the National Center for Charitable Statistics (http://urbn.is/2qatOy7) also provides useful data.
When Preparing IRS Form 433-A, Where Are the Tables for IRS Allowances for Expenses Located?
The IRS has established maximums in several expense categories to be aware of when negotiating an offer in compromise or an installment payment arrangement and preparing the accompanying Form 433-A (Collections Statement for Individuals). These allowances can be found at http://bit.ly/2pshn1T. In addition, the IRS TRAC website (http://www.trac.syr.edu/tracirs/) provides detailed data from a variety of sources about IRS civil and criminal enforcement.
Where Is Information about Asset Valuation Located?
For the valuation of assets, there are several suggested sites:
- For historical price data on stocks, http://bigcharts.marketwatch.com or http://www.finance.yahoo.com.
- For the valuation of tangible assets, such as motor vehicles, boats, and planes, http://www.nadaguides.com/cars or http://www.kbb.com.
- For collectibles, http://abt.cm/2psixdY, http://www.usedprice.com/index.html (a fee-based site), or http://www.sothebys.com/en.html.
- For real estate (estimated), Zillow (http://www.zillow.com).
Where Can Information about the Laws Affecting Nonprofit Organizations Be Found?
The following websites address the legal and tax issues facing exempt organizations:
What Tax Resources Are Available from the Government Publishing Office (GPO)?
The Federal Register (http://www.gpo.gov) is an authoritative source for government information issued on a daily basis, such as proposed IRS regulations.
Which Accounting Publications Can Be Read Online?
The list includes—
- AICPA’s invaluable CPA Letter Daily (http://www.smartbrief.com);
- AccountantsWorld Daily News (http://www.accountantsworld.com/home/read-newsletter);
- Journal of Accountancy (http://www.journalofaccountancy.com);
- The CPA Journal (http://www.cpajournal.com);
- The Practical Accountant (http://www.accountingtoday.com);
- Accounting Today (http://www.webcpa.com);
- Tax Advisor (http://www.thetaxadviser.com);
- National Tax Journal (http://www.ntanet.org/publications/ntj/);
- CFO Magazine (http://ww2.cfo.com); and
- Attorney-CPA Newsletter (http://www.attorney-cpa.com).
Which Blogs and Community Sites Offer Helpful Tax Material?
Tax professionals have developed a number of forums for interaction over the web, including the posting of questions and answers for peers to provide feedback. Law Professor Blogs (http://www.lawprofessorblogs.com/) maintains a network of blogs on legal topics, including Tax Profs Blog; Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog; Elder Law Prof Blog; and Nonprofit Law Prof Blog. These blogs combine regularly updated resources and links, along with daily news and information of interest. Roth & Company, P.C. Tax Update Blog (http://www.rothcpa.com/blog-index) is another useful tax blog.
What Are the Best Websites for General Tax Resources?
The following are some of the best:
- Findlaw (http://tax.findlaw.com/)
- Legalbitstream (http://www.legalbitstream.com)
- Tax and Accounting Sites Directory (http://www.taxsites.com)
- Tax Topics (http://www.taxtopics.net)
- Small Business Tax Guidance (http://www.smbiz.com)
- American Bar Association (http://www.americanbar.org/groups/taxation.html)
It should be noted that some organizations have created and promoted websites only to abandon them. Even some of the sites listed above may not exist in six months. The best advice is to always check the date of the last revision, particularly for proprietary sites.