- The Washington Times - Friday, March 23, 2001

When it comes to tax season, I hit the Internet big time, looking for sites that can help me squeeze every dollar of tax savings out of my house and mortgage. Here are a few that I highly recommend as you prepare for the upcoming tax season.

— Daily Digital: (www.irs.ustreas.gov/). This site is operated by the Internal Revenue Service. It has been a favorite of mine for about a year now, and the IRS has just revamped the site with some handy new features.

Once you arrive, scroll down and click "Tax Info for You." Here you'll find tax planning tools, including Tax Trails (an interactive area where the user can answer yes and no questions for insights into deductions, limits, credits and more); tax tables for 2000; a tax calendar to help pinpoint individual, business and excise dates for 2001; a W4 calculator to help you figure your federal income tax withholding; information on the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997; and more.

Tax Trails caught my attention. If you've had questions about how your house expenses are effected by taxes, now you can get some answers from the IRS. The Tax Trails section has several questions to click through on home-related deductions and tax issues.

The click-through questions and topics about homeownership include: Is my home mortgage interest deductible? Are my home mortgage points deductible? Can you deduct business use of the home expenses? Sale of residence. Capital gains and losses. Basis of real property.

By clicking the question or section, the site presents the user with yes-or-no questions. For instance, on "Is my home interest fully deductible?" the question was: "Were your total mortgage balances $100,000 or less ($50,000 or less if married filing separately)?" If you clicked "yes," then, yes, your interest is fully deductible.

The answer comes complete with links to the IRS publications that deal with the mortgage interest deduction and the forms that should be filled out to report the information to the IRS all linked in PDF files. You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to read the files. Acrobat Reader is a free software that can be downloaded from the Web (www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html).

The site also provides toll-free numbers to call if you would rather have the form mailed to you.

Other sections at the site include Tax Stats, Tax Info for Business, ElectronicServices, Taxpayer Help and Ed, Tax Regs in English, IRS Newsstand, Forms and Pubs, and What's Hot on the site.

— HomeAdvisor.com: (https:// homeadvisor.msn.com/selling/ guides/taxconsequences.asp). Yes, this is a long URL, but it's worth the tips you can get from Microsoft's home information Web site.

(By the way, I misidentified HomeAdvisor.com in my March 9 column. In addition, the separate company established by Microsoft to operate the Web site has been in existence for abouta year.)

You always want to know your tax consequences when you buy or sell a home, and you always want to talk with a tax professional before making big-ticket-item decisions. But HomeAdvisor.com has put together a pretty good resource guide here with some helpful links to capital-gains taxes, lucrative long-term savings, capital improvements and other related information.

— Homestore.com: (www.homestore.com). Type in taxes in this site's "Find" box for a great list of articles about taxes and your home, whether you're buying, selling, investing or renting. The tax area is populated with plenty of tips, such as moving and taxes, lowering your tax bill with smart remodeling, and what renters can deduct even though they don't own a home.

— H&R; Block: (www.hrblock.com). H&R; Block has a clean and easy-to-navigate site. By typing in "real estate" in the "Find" section at the top of the home page, the user is presented with 37 pages of answers to questions regarding real estate and taxes, such as the use of your home in your business, deductions for depreciation and other expenses, and deducting points from your income, among others.

M. Anthony Carr has written about the real estate industry for more than 12 years. Send comments and questions by e-mail ([email protected]).


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