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How to Make the Most of the IRS Web Site

Need a tax form in a hurry? Have a question about itemized deductions? Want to know where your tax refund is? Now you can get easy access to tax information on www.irs.gov, one of the most frequently visited Web sites in the world.

According to the California Society of CPAs (www.calcpa.org), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Web site offers both individuals and small businesses a full range of tax resources and online assistance. The site also includes information in Spanish.

For Individuals
Tax Forms and Publications: The "Forms and Publications" section on the IRS home page allows you to select and download tax forms and publications. If you're not sure of the number, use the search feature. You'll need Adobe Acrobat to view and print PDF files of these documents.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS): Answers to many frequently asked questions may be found by visiting www.irs.gov/faqs. You can search through the FAQs by category or keyword.

IRS Newsroom: The Newsroom on the IRS home page provides the latest information, press releases and fact sheets on recent changes.

Where's My Refund?: A new feature on the IRS Web site provides immediate access to the status of refunds. By entering your name, Social Security number, filing status, and refund amount, you can learn whether your check is on its way. You can also find out if the IRS is correcting a mistake on your return.

Your Rights as a Taxpayer: Learn your rights and get help in resolving problems with the IRS from the "Taxpayer Advocate" page, which you can reach from the IRS home page.

Information About E-filing: The e-file icon on the IRS home page takes you to information about how e-filing can simplify tax filing and deliver your refund sooner.

Withholding Calculator: A simple-to-use withholding calculator makes it easy to compute your Federal income tax, so you can avoid under or overpaying by having your employer withhold the proper amount. Look for it on the "Individuals" page.

Ask a Question: If you cannot get the information you need on the IRS Web site, visit the "Contact Us" section on the home page. The IRS will respond to your questions via e-mail. However, be aware that the IRS will not address highly complex tax issues or questions regarding your specific tax situation.

For Businesses
Starting and Running a Business: For a thorough overview of the basics on self-employment — from filing requirements and the reporting responsibilities of independent contractors to useful form and publications — the small business section of the Web site provides a wealth of information.

Employer Identification Number: You can apply online for an Employer Identification Number by going to www.irs.gov/businesses/small/index.html.

Industry Specific Help: If you need information about a specific industry, look in the small business section. Here you'll find special rules and tax information for more than 20 industries, including manufacturing, childcare, restaurants and cosmetology. And the IRS reports that more will be available in the future.

Complex Situations Require Help from a CPA
Although the IRS site is a good place to get educated about certain tax rules and taxpayer responsibilities, consult a CPA to obtain answers to more complex issues or to learn how IRS rules impact your specific situation.