CCH Offers Words Of Caution, Tips For Online Tax Research, Preparation, Filing
(RIVERWOODS, ILL., February 28, 2000) - Taxpayers are
flocking to the Internet this year in record numbers to research and electronically file
their taxes. But before you join the crowd, there are a few things you should keep in
mind, according to CCH INCORPORATED (CCH), a leading provider of tax and business law
information, software and services.
"The Internet is a tremendously powerful tool, but like any tool, you have to
understand its benefits and limitations for each specific use," said Marty Bush,
publisher, CCH Business Owners Toolkit (www.toolkit.cch.com)
and CompleteTax (www.completetax.com), two
web-based services for tax research and tax preparation and e-filing.
"If you buy a book on the Internet and find its not a good book, you can
return it. If you rely on information or software on the Internet to research or file your
taxes and somethings wrong, the repercussions could be expensive and scary."
So what should individuals and small business owners keep in mind before logging on to
the Internet to tackle their taxes?
Know Your Source
While theres no shortage of tax information on the Internet, the information
found is only as reliable as the source from which it came. Its often difficult to
determine the credibility of a web site, but at the very least you should check out the
sites owner, its credentials, how long it has been providing tax information, if tax
information and software is the primary business and the professional qualifications of
the sites contributors.
Another approach is to use sites whose names youre familiar with through other
reliable sources. If youre still unsure, ask your accountant or someone else you
trust whos knowledgeable about taxes.
Ensure Data Is Current
A great advantage of the Internet is the ability to disseminate information nearly
instantaneously. One of the greatest disadvantages is that information can stick around
forever, making it very difficult for visitors to figure out if the information was posted
today, last month or last year.
And, when it comes to taxes and tax laws, having the most current information can mean
the difference of being in compliance or being socked with a penalty. As a result, look
for dates on the information posted and visit the site regularly to make certain that
information is being updated frequently. Check that downloadable tax forms are the current
and the official approved versions.
Electronic Filing Considerations
If youre planning to join the new era of electronic filers, there are a few
considerations you should keep in mind when deciding which online software to use.
Is it easy to use and secure?
A key benefit of filing electronically is supposed to be that its easier, but
thats only the case if the tool youre using makes it this way. The tool should
help you organize your information in a way thats orderly and easy to work with.
Also, it should offer a glossary and provide clearly written explanations of how to handle
various tax situations you may encounter.
Security also is essential. Just as youd be hesitant to provide your credit card
information across an unsecured site, you should be wary of transmitting any of your
tax-related information unsecured. Ensure the online tax service encrypts data to and from
you using recognized Internet security standards.
Can you work at your own pace and check your work?
If youre like the typical taxpayer, you probably wont prepare and file your
taxes in one sitting. As a result, you may want to select an online filing service that
allows you to download the program so that you can complete it at your own pace and on
your own PC. This option also can be reassuring to particularly security-conscious filers,
as the data will reside on your computer, not that of the Internet filing service.
Once youve entered your tax information into the software, its calculated
and youve produced your returns, make certain the software or online service
provides you with the ability to review the forms before theyre electronically filed
with the IRS or state revenue department. Also, if you like the ease of using the
software, but feel more comfortable printing out the forms and mailing them yourself,
check to see that this is an available option.
Are your taxes highly complicated?
While the Internet offers a tremendous resource to help many individuals and small
business owners with their taxes, its not a substitute for professional help.
Therefore, if your tax situation is complicated, you should seek the guidance of a CPA or
CCH Small Business Resources
For online filing, individuals and small business owners can complete and file their
federal and state tax returns online for as little as $7.50 for both returns via
CCHs CompleteTax service at www.completetax.com.
Those looking for tax information have instant access through CCHs highly
regarded small business web site, CCH Business Owners Toolkit (www.toolkit.cch.com), including federal and state
tax and legal information, tax calculators and tax and business forms. In print, the CCH
Business Owners Toolkit Tax Guide 2000 is an easy-to-understand tax
resource available for purchase over the Internet at the www.toolkit.cch.com bookstore,
www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com. Buyers of the book also are able to file one
federal and one state return through CompleteTax at no charge.
About CCH INCORPORATED
CCH INCORPORATED, founded in 1913, has served four generations of business
professionals and their clients. The company offers more than 700 CD-ROM, print and online
products, including Internet, online and book products for owners of small businesses. CCH
is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wolters Kluwer U.S. The CCH web site can be accessed at www.cch.com. The Small Office/Home Office web
site can be accessed at www.toolkit.cch.com.
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EDITORS NOTE: For members of the press, review copies of CompleteTax
are available by contacting Mary Dale Walters at 847-267-2038 or firstname.lastname@example.org.