A treasure trove of online tax help

Oh boy, it's tax time! If you haven't filed your 2007 tax return yet, there's no time like the present.

There's extra incentive to file on time this year in the form of an economic stimulus payment that will net qualifying taxpayers a refund of up to $600 per individual ($1,200 for those filing jointly), plus an extra $300 per child. These payments will be calculated based on your 2007 tax return and sent out automatically beginning in early May. (For more on what's new this year, see the IRS' Highlights of 2007 Tax Changes.)

The good news is that it's easier than ever to find forms and information -- and even file your return -- online. We all like to think of the Internal Revenue Service as a bureaucratic nightmare, but the IRS.gov Web site provides a surprising array of helpful tools and in-depth information to answer your questions and speed you on your way to completing your tax return.

To help you get going, I've compiled a list of tax-prep links that I've found invaluable. I hope you find them useful too.

Quick links

Don't need any fancy tools to help you figure your taxes? Here are the basics:

Top-rated online tax-return services

Professional tax-preparation services can help ensure you file your tax return accurately, completely and in compliance with current tax laws. All you need is an Internet connection and a Web browser.

Here are the top three online tax-prep services, as ranked by our sister site PC World.

Another option for many: Free File

Can't afford an expensive tax service? You might be eligible for the IRS' Free File program, a professional tax-filing service provided by several independent tax software companies (including big names like Intuit and H&R Block) to middle and low-income taxpayers for free.

Anyone with a 2007 adjusted gross income of $54,000 or less qualifies for Free File -- that's 70% of U.S. taxpayers, according to the IRS. Be warned, however: The individual companies offering the services may impose age, income or location restrictions at their discretion. Read each company's restrictions carefully before selecting a service.

Questions? Read the Free File FAQ.

Free online tax tools from the IRS

See the complete list of IRS online tools.

IRS tax information centers

FAQs, tips and more information from the IRS

Any other sites you've found helpful for preparing taxes? Add them to the comments area. Thanks, and good luck with your tax filing!

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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