by Jan Zauha
April is the cruelest month, according to T.S. Eliot. Unless you started working on your taxes early,
in which case February and March didn't look so good either. Unfortunately, the Web can't make tax season
fun, by any means, but it can provide some relief in the form of practical help and diversion.
Now that tax forms and booklets are rarely distributed from public convenience points like the
library or post office,the Web can help you avoid a trip to the local tax office. Everything from
state to federal forms can be downloaded directly from the Web, given the right software and printer
configurations. All it usually takes is the correct URL, a laser or inkjet printer, and a downloaded
copy of the free Adobe Acrobat Reader software www.adobe.com/prodindex/acrobat/readstep.html.
To access downloadable tax forms and information for the state of Montana, see the Montana Department
of Revenue, a source for extensive information and help, as well
as forms. Federal income tax information is, of course, available from the Internal Revenue
Service www.irs.ustreas.gov, whose "Digital Daily" Web site is an interesting example of
damage control efforts after the (further) tarnishing of their public image in recent years. Once
you scroll through the hype, you'll find a link to Forms & Pubs,including those for prior years.
To locate more tax information, such as forms for other states, current tax news, discussion groups,
and more see TaxWeb www.taxweb.com. This is a consumer-oriented site that is easy to use and
does not require registration. You may also wish to explore IRAs and other options for limiting your tax
Minnesota Public Radio's Sound Money program has a Web site that allows you
to search their archive for articles on investment options such as "Roth IRA," as well as identify local
broadcast stations and times for the program. Commercial sites such as the Vanguard
Group www.vanguard.com also offer useful investment information, including an IRA Worksheet
that helps you determine eligibility. If you already participate in a retirement plan such
as TIAA-CREF www.tiaa-cref.org, you can check your
account status, identify additional investment options, and find definitions for financial terms
in an online dictionary on their Web site.
If you'd like an excuse to put off working on your taxes, see Yahoo!'s coverage of IRS,
reform including links to other tax-related Web sites. Pursuing sites such as "It's Our Money, Not The IRS!" www.not4irs.org will plunge you directly into the whirlpool
debate over tax reform, including myriad IRS horror stories. This is a bit like reading airline
complaint sites just before a trip, however,and may not be advisable. Tax vitriol is fairly thick
on the Web, whereas tax humor is understandably thin. Try Death and Taxes www.boogieonline.com/revolution/commerce/taxes/humor for a smile, however, or Tax Quotes and Jokes to discover the truly timeless nature of the tax scourge.
If you find Web sites that you think might be of interest to the MSU community, please send me
an e-mail message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
JanZauha is a reference librarian and the Electronic Information Coordinator for the MSU Libraries.