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Online Tax Planning and Preparation Resources
by: Robert D. Flach

As with any other topic, the internet provides a wealth of resources for taxpayers. Here are some websites and web pages that provide information, tools and resources to help you with year-round tax planning and assist in preparing your Form 1040.


When you sell stock you need to determine the "cost basis" of the shares sold so you can calculate your capital gain or loss. With the "divestiture" of ATT in 1984, and all the splits, both positive and reverse, spin-offs and mergers that have followed, determining the cost basis of ATT stock sold, as well as the basis of the various spin-off companies' shares, is a real project. Go here for Tax Basis Worksheets for each individual event in the history of ATT from 1959 through the present.


This "address" will direct you to a foreign currency converter that can provide current and historical exchange rates for 164 currencies.


You can use this site to find the price of any listed stock or mutual fund on any exchange for any given date. If you inherit an investment, your cost basis is the fair market value of the investment on the date of death of the person from whom it was inherited. This information is generally reported on the federal estate or state inheritance tax return. However, when you sell the stock you inherited you do not always have ready access to this information. You can calculate your basis by going to this site and, under "Historical Quotes", enter the ticker symbol of the stock and the date of death, or the business day closest to the date of death, to get a price quote. If you sell stock that you received as a gift, your basis is either what the donor paid for the stock or the fair market value at the time the gift was made. You can also use this site to determine a cost basis for gifted property.


While the rules for claiming a deduction for donating a car to charity have drastically changed, there are still situations where you will deduct the fair market value of the automobile. Click on "Used Car Values By Make and Model", enter your zip code, enter the year, make and model of the car donated, and click on "Kelley Blue Book Private Party Value". You will then enter detailed information on the car donated, such as mileage and condition, and get a value. You should do this on the day you donate the car to charity. Print out the result and file it with the paperwork for the donation.


You must begin to take annual required minimum distributions from a traditional IRA or employer pension account by April 1st of the year following the year in which you turn age 70 1/2. This address takes you to a calculator that will determine the amount of your required minimum distribution for the year.


Click on "CALCULATORS" in the menu at the top of the page. Then click on "Taxable/Tax-Free Yield Equivalent Calculator". This calculator will allow you to determine what you need to earn on a taxable investment to equal the tax-free yield of a municipal bond or a bond fund.


This section of the website of the Bureau of Public Debt provides a variety of information, calculators and services for individuals who have invested in or are thinking about investing in US Savings Bonds (all series). Click on "Savings Bond Calculator" under the heading "What Are Your Bonds Worth?" to determine the amount of interest earned on a bond for the year if you have elected to report accrued savings bond interest annually on your tax return. You can also go here to find out if your savings bonds have stopped earning interest and to purchase bonds online.


If you travel for business, instead of deducting your actual expenses for meals and incidental expenses you can elect to deduct the federal per diem amount for the location of the travel. Click on "Per Diem Rates" under "Travel Resources" to find the federal per diem rates for Lodging and Meals and Incidental Expenses for domestic business travel effective for 2005 and prior years. FYI, "incidental expenses" include fees and tips for porters, baggage handlers and maids, but does not include the cost of laundry or phone calls.


This address will take you to the State Department per diem rates for Lodging and Meals and Incidental Expenses for international travel during 2005. Ust these amounts if you travel overseas for buisness. To check the per diems for a prior year, substitute the year for 2005 in the "address".


This brings you to a calculator that will help you determine your allowable home office deduction. It is from Commerce Clearing House, the premier tax law publisher.


This site will help you to make intelligent charitable giving decisions. It provides information on and evaluates the financial health of over 4000 charities. It also has articles and guide on contributing to charity.


The Redleaf National Institute helps child care providers successfully manage their business. The site offers news, information and publications on recordkeeping, taxes, IRS audits, contracts, insurance, and other child care business issues. It provides access to other child care business resources and organizations, and has a state-by-state listing of tax professionals who prepare tax returns for child care providers.

The above web addresses, and many others, are listed on the FEDERAL LINKS Page of my website at www.robertdflach.net

Copyright (c) 2005 by Robert D Flach LLC


About The Author

Robert D Flach is a tax professional with 34 tax seasons of experience preparing 1040s for individuals in all walks of life. He writes THE WANDERING TAX PRO weblog (http://rdftaxpro.tripod.com/weblog) and the free monthly online newsletter STUFF AND SUCH (http://rdftaxpro.tripod.com/stuffandsuch). He also writes and publishes THE FLACH REPORT, a quarterly print tax newsletter.