* Both www.irs.gov and www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation are “open” 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
* Both allow you to review and download current and past year tax forms, instructions and publications . The NJ site has NJ-1040s going back to 1992 and the IRS site has the basic 1040 and some Schedules as far back as 1980. Click here for IRS and here for NJ.
* The NJ site allows you to file your current NJ-1040 online for free – in most situations via NJWebFile. This is what I use to satisfy my “electronic filing” requirement as a preparer of state resident tax returns. Unfortunately taxpayers with net profits, or loss, from business (federal Schedule C filers), distributive share of partnership income, or loss, and/or pro rata share of S corporation income (those who receive K-1s) cannot use NJWebFile. Click here for a complete list of who cannot use this free online system to file a 2008 NJ-1040.
While the IRS has a “Free File” program for lower-income taxpayers, these programs, including the new Fill In Forms option, are all run by outside vendors. You cannot file your federal income tax return free online directly through the IRS yet.
* Both sites allow you to make tax payments electronically. You can authorize an electronic funds withdrawal, use a credit or debit card or, with federal taxes, enroll in the U.S. Treasury’s Electronic Federal Tax Payment System.
* The IRS site lets you check the status of your tax refund. Whether you opted for direct deposit of your federal refund or are expecting a check, you can check the status of your refund through “Where’s my Refund?”. You can also check the amount of your 2008 economic “stimulus” rebate check, information you will need when preparing your 2008 federal income tax return.
While there is currently no online inquiry system for NJ state income tax refunds (you must check the status of a NJ state income tax refund via telephone) you can check on the amount of your NJ Homestead Rebate for 2005 through 2007 (the 2007 rebate was issued in 2008). Homeowners who itemize will need this information for the federal Form 1040.
* The IRS site has a “Withholding Calculator” to help you determine the right amount of withholding on your W-4. It also has a “Sales Tax Deduction Calculator” to help determine the amount you can claim as a deduction on Schedule A if you opt to deduct state and local sales tax instead of state and local income tax.
* The IRS site also lets you search Publication 78, Cumulative List of Organizations, to find out if an organization is exempt from federal taxation and, if so, how much of your contributions to that organization are tax deductible.
* Both sites provide lots of information on applicable tax law, dealing with the agencies, and how to do “stuff”. NJ has an excellent “How Do I” page.
* And both sites are excellently indexed by category of taxpayer. Both index by INDIVIDUALS and BUSINESS and the IRS site also has sections for CHARITIES AND NON-PROFITS, GOVERNMENT ENTITIES, AND RETIREMENT PLANS COMMUNITY. Both sites have a special section for TAX PROFESSIONALS.
New Jersey also has an excellent portal for businesses – the NJ Business Gateway Registry Services. While NJ is one of the most expensive states in which to have a business, and consistently lands on the bottom of the list of “business-friendly” states (as it nickels and dimes its small businesses almost to death) – the state does make it extremely easy to form, register and make changes to a business (so you can be nickeled and dimed), to make state tax and other payments and file required reports, and to dissolve a business (when you have had enough with NJ rules, regulations, taxes and fees and decide to give up).
So check out the IRS and NJ Division of Taxation websites and take full advantage of all that they have to offer.