Our guide to 1982 tax guides
The Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, ''designed to restore incentives to work, save and invest in creating new jobs and enterprises,'' has already been effective in one way. It's made plenty of work for tax advisers, lawyers, and accountants -- plus writers of tax-advice books.Skip to next paragraph
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Authors of the older tax manuals have had to do large-scale rewrites to take into account the many features of the 1981 law, involving the largest tax cut in American history. And a host of new books have been published to capitalize on the need of US taxpayers for more information as they start to puzzle through altered 1981 IRS forms.
The new tax law created a number of loopholes. Undoubtedly many taxpayers will seek to slip some income through these gaps.
Few or no tax books are designed to amuse; they are meant to be practical.
One of the best is an old standby, the H. & R. Block Income Tax Workbook (New York: Macmillan. 264 pp. $4.95 in paperback). This manual includes a list of new tax-saving ideas that come out of the Reagan tax reforms. It includes a helpful glossary of terms, a chapter on the most frequently overlooked deductions and credits, and line-by-line instructions to help steer readers through the forms. At the back there's a special pocket for receipts and records that will be needed at the end of the 1982 tax year. Publicity for the manual indicated that more than 500,000 copies have been printed -- giving some evidence of the anticipated need for tax assistance.
Another first-class manual is Sylvia Porter's 1982 Income Tax Book (New York: Avon Books. 174 pp. $3.95 in paperback). The well-known personal finance columnist uses a question-and-answer format to provide much of the information, plus a series of ''Tax Tips'' set off from the main text in boxes. The book also offers a line-by-line guide through the tax forms. Both this book and the H. & R. Block manual provide tax tables, blank forms, and good indexes.
A late arrival -- just out -- is Winning On Your Income Taxes, by Dennis Kamensky (San Francisco: Cragmont Publications, distributed by Grosset & Dunlap, New York. 192 pp. $9.95 in paperback). In a chapter entitled ''Preparing to Win'' the author notes: 'The United States income tax system is distinctly class-based and biased. The system is set up to allow the upper income groups to avoid taxes, but many of the same tax breaks for the rich can be used by the middle and even the lower income groups.'' One interesting recommendation from Mr. Kamensky, a San Francisco tax attorney, is that the tax forms be handwritten neatly, rather than typed, so additional information can be inserted in margins or between lines to explain things in further detail to the IRS. The book goes through the various tax forms line by line, but it's not as easy to read -- at least in my early, unbound copy -- as the above books.
Barry R. Steiner's tax manual, Pay Less Tax Legally (New York, Signet. 184 pp. $3.95 in paperback), starts by noting that the average American worker now spends two hours and 49 minutes of each eight-hour working day to earn the money that goes to pay federal, state, and local taxes. By comparison, the next largest budget item for the average American, housing costs, takes only one hour and 28 minutes. This former IRS agent has lengthened his book from 162 pages in 1981 to 184 pages this year. It lists tax changes and explains the forms line by line. Many pages are divided down the middle, with the law on the left and tips on the right. Apparently this book went to the press so early last fall that some 1981 tax forms were not yet available; so some 1980 forms are used.