It’s Tax Time

By: Charles Bowen

The panic is on. We’re less than a fortnight away from the Ides of April and all those folks who have procrastinated on filing their federal tax returns have begun calling the city desk. Isn’t it flattering to know they think you can answer their terrible tax questions?

OK, so you can’t, but you can at least use the Web to get them all on the same page. Just in time for the annual Tax Tremors comes a powerful portal from one of the Internet’s best virtual library sites. The Librarians’ Index to the Internet has launched Tax Time 2002, a searchable, briefly annotated directory of tax-related Internet resources. Each is selected and evaluated by librarians for their usefulness. The site is maintained by the Berkeley Digital Library SunSITE of Berkeley, Calif.

Citations here include Web sites related to income-tax preparation, sales tax, tax-related finance sites, tax forms, select publications, the Internal Revenue Service, and selected state taxation agencies. And to remind us that there is life after taxes, the site also provides a guide to a few Web sites that offer humorous cartoons, stories, and one-liners to help raise our spirits.

To check it out, visit the site at http://lii.org/taxes and click on the “All Tax Time 2002 Resources” link on the introductory page. What follows are several screens of links divided into three categories:

* Directories. These include links to major tax-related portals throughout the Web, including the SALT (“State and Local Tax Resources”) Gateway, the Tax and Accounting Sites Directory, and Uncle Fed’s TaxBoard.

* Databases. Here are links to search tools for answering assorted tax questions, including such services as VITA (“Volunteer Income Tax Assistance”) and “Tax Counseling for the Elderly.”

* Specific Resources. This is a large alphabetical, catch-all list for all the cited sites, ranging from online tax forms that can be downloaded to tax-related services from law sites. Each entry provides a linked name (click on it to go to the actual resource), followed by the feature’s URL and two or three lines of description.

And if timeliness is important to the query you’re researching, notice that each entry has a timestamp citing its most recent update. The main page also enables you to zero in specifically on federal tax information. On the top screen, click on the “Federal” link to reach screens divided into the same three broad categories. And there is a link to state resources on the main screen, but note that these deal primarily with California state taxes only. They are of limited use to readers outside that state.

Besides Tax Time 2002, the Librarians’ Index to the Internet has other resources that make it a worthy candidate for addition to your collection of online tools. Other reasons for visiting LII in your research:

1. The LII is an old-timer in these parts, actually pre-dating the World Wide Web by a couple of years. It began in 1990 as reference librarian Carole Leita’s gopher bookmark file. It migrated to the Berkeley Public Library’s Web Server in 1993 and to the Berkeley SunSITE in 1997, where it was renamed the Librarians’ Index to the Internet.

2. Visit the LII main site (http://lii.org) to reach a browseable and searchable portal to dozens of broad topics, from the arts and automobiles to weather and women. The site also routinely highlights links to relevant current events. For instance, in addition to Tax Time 2002, the site’s main page, at the time of this writing, was linking to “September 11 & Beyond.”

3. If you write regularly about the Internet for your paper, you might also want to sign up for the site’s regular e-mail alerts, which will tell you of the best 10 to 20 sites added to the LII directory each week. Click on the “Free Updates!” link at the site’s main screen for details.




To see Bowen’s last 10 columns, click here. Previous columns may be purchased in our paid archives. Search for “Bowen” in the “Author” field.

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