It's not too early to start thinking about taxes. Here are a few sites to help lighten the burden for you and your clients.
The Website advertises itself as offering “All things tax for individuals.” Most of the year, that's not exactly the kind of motto that sets the pulse racing but it is a resource you should know about, since it contains hundreds of clear, well-written articles on a variety of topics, such a changes in IRS code and the tax implications of disaster-relief donations.
Surprisingly, most of this site is the fruit of one man's bandwidth — Gary Klott, a former New York Times tax columnist who still writes a syndicated column offering tax advice to individuals. Of particular interest this year will undoubtedly be his advice on how to take advantage of new college savings plan benefits, such as 529s.
The Tax Prophet
Robert L. Sommers, aka the Tax Prophet, is a San Francisco tax and business lawyer who also writes a column on taxation. One of the original web tax gurus, Sommers' web site is now six years old. Featuring a number of his old columns and legal memos, taxprophet.com is especially strong on somewhat specialized matters. The site includes a number of articles on some tricky taxation issues, such as the difficulties faced by foreign investors and foreign residents of the U.S., and on some other arcane matters. (For tax purposes, is a day trader a professional trader or an investor?) His work is pitched to a variety of levels, which he rates as basic, intermediate and advanced.
The Digital Daily
Given its parentage, the Internal Revenue Service's site is surprisingly useful. When its new design launches, the Digital Daily Website should be an even more helpful source for tax information, since the redesign is supposed to include much clearer and more intuitive site navigation. The forms and publications section is perhaps the most generally useful part of the site, with hundreds, if not thousands, of pages available for download in PDF and other formats.
Do you have clients who pester you to track the investments all the time? You might send them to GainsKeeper, an online portfolio tracking service that calculates wash sales and capital gains, and also offers advice on the most tax advantageous times to sell. GainsKeeper also makes automatic adjustments when a stock split or other corporate action takes place. A 30-day free trial is available. Licensing runs a retail-friendly $19 to $149 a year.
Ryan & Co. State and Local Tax Gateway
Ryan & Co., a Dallas-based state and local tax-consulting firm, offers a clear and simple set of links to state tax forms, tax codes and tax-related professional associations and legislative bodies for all 50 states. If you ever need to track down state tax information quickly, particularly for a state you don't know well, this no-nonsense site would probably be the fastest route to the forms or instructions you need.