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Leslie Bonacum
Neil Allen

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 Owner’s Toolkit ( and CompleteTax (, two web-based services for tax research and tax preparation and e-filing.

"If you buy a book on the Internet and find it’s 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 something’s 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 there’s no shortage of tax information on the Internet, the information found is only as reliable as the source from which it came. It’s often difficult to determine the credibility of a web site, but at the very least you should check out the site’s 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 site’s contributors.

Another approach is to use sites whose names you’re familiar with through other reliable sources. If you’re still unsure, ask your accountant or someone else you trust who’s 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 you’re 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 it’s easier, but that’s only the case if the tool you’re using makes it this way. The tool should help you organize your information in a way that’s 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 you’d 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 you’re like the typical taxpayer, you probably won’t 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 you’ve entered your tax information into the software, it’s calculated and you’ve produced your returns, make certain the software or online service provides you with the ability to review the forms before they’re 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, it’s not a substitute for professional help. Therefore, if your tax situation is complicated, you should seek the guidance of a CPA or tax attorney.

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 CCH’s CompleteTax service at

Those looking for tax information have instant access through CCH’s highly regarded small business web site, CCH Business Owner’s Toolkit (, including federal and state tax and legal information, tax calculators and tax and business forms. In print, the CCH Business Owner’s Toolkit™ Tax Guide 2000 is an easy-to-understand tax resource available for purchase over the Internet at the bookstore, and Buyers of the book also are able to file one federal and one state return through CompleteTax at no charge.


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 The Small Office/Home Office web site can be accessed at

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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


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