The IRS has made its annual updates to the Tax Guide (Publication 17). Pub 17 is a virtual tax bible which has been available to taxpayers since the 1940s. It contains just about everything you would need to successfully file your own taxes if not ensure your eternal salvation. It is also somewhat biblical in length at 292 pages. If you’re a do-it-yourself type person then you may be able to file your taxes without paying a tax professional this year, but you’ll have to start reading now. Here is a brief outline of what you can expect to find in the new 2013 version*.
1. The Income Tax Return
Part one contains information about who needs to file, how to file (filing status selection), what forms to use, who can be claimed as dependents, etc. It also covers tax withholding and estimated tax requirements.
The general rule is that you have to report and pay taxes on all income. Part two delves into what is and what is not considered income.
3. Gains and Losses
Part three discusses investment gains and losses, including how to figure your basis in property.
4. Adjustments to Income
5. Standard Deductions and Itemized Deductions
6. Figuring Your Taxes and Credits
I always thought the Tax Guide was an odd (maybe archaic) sort of publication. If you think about it, tax attorneys, accountants, and tax preparers have most of this stuff down pat, and the do-it-yourselfers are using tax software to prepare their returns. However, it is a good reference tool.