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Monday, March 26, 2001

Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

COLUMN: Al Gibes, The Online Guy

Need tax answers? Visit the IRS online


Robert Grossman enjoys talking about a topic that many people run and hide from -- the Internal Revenue Service. His enthusiasm for changes in tax laws and keeping money in your pocket instead of turning it over to Uncle Sam is contagious.


Grossman doesn't advocate not paying taxes, but instead helps those who may have neglected their responsibilities as taxpayers work out solutions with the government. His background includes four years on the other side of the table, working for the IRS as a senior trial attorney. He left the government position in 1975 and has been helping taxpayers demystify the IRS ever since.


His Web site (www.irsproblems.com) includes tales of settlements he reached for clients with the IRS resulting in dramatically lower paybacks than the original amount owed. The site also links to Grossman's favorite resource on the Web -- the IRS' site, The Digital Daily (www.irs.ustreas.gov).


Grossman writes via e-mail: "The IRS site is very, very good. It contains forms, copies of the Internal Revenue Service Manual, answers to questions, and you can navigate easily. ... It loads fast and is very interesting. This frees the IRS from answering all those pesky questions."


The functionality of the site is unmatched, as taxpayers can find forms and publications not only for the current tax year, but also dating back to 1992. The answer to nearly any question you might ask your tax man is available on the site, along with instructions for electronic filing of tax forms in the IRS e-file area.


Those looking for all the current tax year forms can order a CD-ROM version of the offerings for $21, but you can pocket that money if you have the patience and bandwidth to download the files directly from the site.


The site also offers ways for taxpayers to solve problems they may be having with the IRS in the Taxpayer Advocate area. A personal advocate will represent your interests with the IRS, addressing concerns from an objective viewpoint. Tax professionals have a corner of the site dedicated to their needs, including technical references, news on tax law changes and early release drafts of forms.


Grossman can rattle off specific areas of the site where a taxpayer can find information detailing laws and rulings that pertain to their concern. He'll share his tax expertise and help taxpayers find what they need on the IRS site during a live chat scheduled from 6 to 7 p.m. PDT April 2 on lasvegas.com. To participate in the moderated chat users first need to register (chat.lasvegas.com).


Follow the links to ask your question or read the transcript later if you're busy with your accountant and miss the live chat.


Share your Internet story with me at: gibes@lasvegas.com and be sure to visit The Online Guy Web site at: (www.lasvegas.com/onlineguy)