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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

IRS Embraces New Web-Ready Tax-Filing Process

Capital Press

By Dallas Lawyer Joe Garza

All the time, tax laws change, get more complicated, and oscillate in order to assist (and disappoint) different taxpayers. In 2014, you will likely to see many new additions to federal income tax, including inflation adjustments to dozens of tax items, new regulations for same-sex partners, and even drawbacks for {not buying health insurance through either the government or with a private insurer. One defining part of the '14 legislationtax season will be its several-week postponement, something that can be attributed to the infamous government shutdown last year. Still, 2014 will also initiate the beginning of a totally new kind of tax change — not only in terms of how we ultimately pay, but also how we file.

The 'Improved' Federal IRS Tax Guide

A few weeks ago, the IRS issued a “newly revised comprehensive tax guide,” or, as some call it, Publication 17: a resource that will help Americans file their taxes better during the new year. Publication 17 touts its interactive features and in-depth review of “tax-saving opportunities.” Among the additions made to the IRS guide is educational material on the American Opportunity Tax Credit, affecting enrolled college kids and their guardians, as well as Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.

Distributed by the Internal Revenue Service since the 1940’s, the new tax guide still features material on reporting earnings, capital gains and losses, IRA’s and basic educational material. But, at a whopping 292 pages, it seems unlikely that the average tax-payer will have time to read through Publication 17. Also, considering the increasing complexity of Federal income tax, it is no surprise that the IRS would reveal updates to the instructions almost daily.

Fewer In-Person Help Resources

Publication 17 proves a major shift from in-person interaction, with a larger amount of digital tools created to help people get through tax season.

Tighter IRS budgets — as a result of sequestration 2013 — mean that there are far fewer resources for in-person tax submission assistance. Rather than having a human representative, taxpayers will be referred to a multitude of online referential materials, including nearly 13,000 official partnering (volunteer) sites, and resources on IRS.gov - like the IRS 'Free File' program. Even basic help requests will now be answered with online resources or via various hotlines. With such a big emphasis on online assimilation, it's reasonable that a branch of the government would start offering more of its info on the web.

A Larger Emphasis on Web Content

While the lack of walk-in assistance will undoubtedly be frustrating for many taxpayers, many others will be glad to know they can take care of more tax-related problems online than ever. Tax payers can now view and complete their tax forms on the web. Additionally, the IRS will also continue to give Employee Identification Numbers through IRS.gov. Finally, to avoid fielding inquiries about the status of income tax refunds over the telephone, the IRS now handles all related questions on IRS.gov .

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