Web Wealth: Last-minute tax help

About.com offers tips on the basics of maximizing your refund, as well as links to specialized information for freelance workers and same-sex couples. To ease the pain of tax season, blogger and cartoonist Daryl Cagle offers a lighter view of the subject via MSNBC's site.

This being crunch time on taxes, we offer a final look at sites for the season, with heavy reliance on the IRS for the last word on what's deductible, and the place for forms you need at 11:59 p.m.

Tax man. It's hard to get through the tax season without a few visits to the Internal Revenue Service site. Remember, only www.irs.gov will get you the service's site; irs.com, irs.net, irs.org, and so forth might have a useful link or two but are commercial sites unrelated to the government resource.


For individuals. At the IRS page for individuals, look for the "free file" link. This year, any taxpayer can file online without paying a middleman's fee - a privilege restricted to lower-income filers in previous years. There's a caveat, though. While low-income filers have access to free tax-preparation software, everyone else must use simple online replicas of the paper tax forms. That means you'll have to do most of the math yourself. Still, if your return isn't too complicated, this is a slick way to go. Also, if you're old-fashioned and choose to mail in your return, you can fill in the online forms and then print them out.


For businesses. This page is a lead-in for business taxpayers. It is notable for its warnings on abuse of tax shelters, and industry-specific tax guides. The one for the construction industry runs nearly 200 printed pages; the guide for commercial bankers is even longer.


Tips and tricks. At About.com, this page on maximizing your refund provides links to information for freelance workers and same-sex couples, along with the basics on advantages of itemizing deductions and receiving a refund by direct deposit. You can also follow links to the Tax Time area, and to the blog, Taxing Matters, where you can scroll through more last-minute tips, such as making IRA contributions, or remembering the deduction for interest paid on a home-equity loan.


Tax 'toons. Check out the tax-themed cartoons gathered here on the MSNBC Web site by cartoonist and blogger Daryl Cagle.


Contact staff writer Reid Kanaley at 215-854-5114 or rkanaley@phillynews.com.