It's back to the classroom for people who knew their way around the old IRS Web site at www.irs.gov. The address is the same, and the material that was once available is still there - you just have to get used to a new way of looking for information on the all new IRS Web site that was unveiled Tuesday.
You may wish to print this page and have it available when you visit the IRS web site for the first time.
Remember the former IRS home page with its cute, cartoonish look? This page has been replaced with a more business-like, but still very approachable appearance. A quick table of contents directs you to your choice of six main categories:
- Charities & Non-Profits
- Government Entities
- Tax Professionals
- Retirement Plans
Once you're past the home page, you'll use the left side of the screen to choose from a list of contents or sub-categories relating to the main category you've chosen, followed by general site resources, and a quick list of topics in the category.
At any time, click Home at the top of the page to get back to the Home page.
Finding What You Need
You can use the Search box that appears on the top of each page to search by keyword, or click the Site Map at the top of the site to access an A-Z index. The Forms and Publications Finder under the Search box on each page enables you to search for forms or publications by number, name, or keyword.
To find a complete list of forms or publications, or to search for a form or publication from a prior year, click the Forms and Publications option that appears under Resources on each page (except the Home page).
This will take you to the Forms and Publications page where you can request lists of forms or publications in numerical or date order. From this page you can also connect directly to the IRS's FTP server, the place where all the forms and publications actually reside. And you can obtain information about downloading and printing forms and publications.
The Resources menu on the left side of the screen repeats throughout the site and provides you with access not only to forms and publications, but to information about e-filing, filing addresses, local office locations, frequently asked questions, and taxpayer advocate services.
Testing, 1, 2, 3…
The IRS is testing a process of responding to tax law related questions by e-mail. You can go to the Help screen in the IRS Web site and click on "Help With Tax Law Questions." You will be given an opportunity to enter a question, along with your e-mail address, and the IRS will attempt to respond.
The Q&A service is being offered on a temporary basis while the IRS explores how best to serve its customers.
Still Working Out the Bugs
The IRS has attempted to create a new, user-friendly site that can provide easy access to the great mass of information that is available to taxpayers and tax professionals. The IRS admits that it is still working out the kinks on the web site and warns visitors that from time to time pages from the old IRS web site may pop up unexpectedly. Patience and a return visit will probably be all it takes to view the pages you need to see.
You'll see news and links to popular publications on the lead page for each category - some of the news is current, some of it a bit outdated. For example, on the Tax Professional's page, the lead story explains how the IRS is going to begin sending out rebate checks this July to taxpayers who paid their 2000 taxes on time. This, of course, is last year's news.
Certain links are still non-functioning and display the promise of "COMING SOON" following the link's description. Other links (the Tax Withholding Information under Individuals/Self-Employed/International Taxpayer, for example) lead to blank pages. These problems will no doubt be corrected in the near future.