High-Reward Potential from Books for Income Tax Planning

By Rosen, Jan M. | THE JOURNAL RECORD, March 9, 1990 | Go to article overview

High-Reward Potential from Books for Income Tax Planning


Rosen, Jan M., THE JOURNAL RECORD


Few investments offer the low-risk, high-reward potential of a good book on income taxes. Almost anyone who spends a few dollars for a book and takes some time to study it is sure to realize tax savings far greater than the cost of the book.

Some books can help people develop long-term financial strategies and the necessary understanding of tax laws, while other books can guide do-it-yourselfers through the maze of preparing a return.

Those who have their returns prepared professionally can also benefit, by learning which records they need and how to organize them. Paying an accountant to sift through poorly organized records, after all, can be expensive.

One of the best books is Julian Block's Year-Round Tax Strategies for the $40,000-Plus Household (234 pages, $10.95, Prima Publishing & Communications).

Block, a Larchmont, N.Y., tax lawyer, has a clear, personable writing style devoid of legalese or IRS jargon.

``Is your withholding out of whack?'' Block asks, rather than ``Are you underwithheld or overwithheld?'' He then explains what the law allows taxpayers to do in filling out a Form W-4 so an employer will change the withholding.

And, he offers numerous short money-saving tips, as well as sophisticated strategies.

For return preparation it is hard to match the Arthur Young Tax Guide 1990 from Ernst & Young (687 pages, $11.95, Ballantine Books).

The book has complete and up-to-date tax forms that the user can cut out or photocopy - unlike many other books, which use preliminary IRS proofs.

And it includes the IRS Publication 17, Your Income Tax, as well as the accounting firm's own explanations, strategies, examples and money-saving tips.

The Arthur Young book is almost encyclopaedic in scope and is well indexed, so readers can look up information on almost any tax topic. The table of contents appears twice, first conventionally by chapter, and second as tax guides for different groups: homeowners, investors, self-employed entrepreneurs, business executives, senior citizens and members of the armed forces.

And it is the most up-to-date of the current crop of tax books. For example, it records the death of the surtax for catastrophic care.

The granddaddy of tax books - and sharper than ever - is J.K. Lasser's Your 1990 Income Tax (499 pages, $11.95, Simon & Schuster).

It has a handy tax organizer to help people know what records to get together and which forms they will need for filing, as well as numerous worksheets for such purposes as interest income, capital gains and losses, medical and dental expenses, charitable contributions and other deductions.

The tax forms themselves are reduced-size versions of advance IRS proofs. However, those who buy the book can send in a postcard for a free update that includes late tax news and later copies of forms. …

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