The American Institute of CPAs has launched a new public service tax website to help taxpayers better understand how the federal tax system works and connect with a CPA for tax help.

The site, 360Taxes.org, has been in development over the past year,. It is launching just days after President Obama called for fundamental reform of the income tax system, touching off a new national conversation about the Tax Code, and on the day that the Senate passed an extension of the Bush tax cuts.

“The AICPA developed 360Taxes.org to give taxpayers a place to go for free, plain-English answers to their most common tax questions,” said AICPA president and CEO Barry Melancon in a statement.  “The renowned tax expertise of CPAs literally is now at taxpayers’ fingertips.”

Jordan Amin, chair of the AICPA’s Financial Literacy Commission, said that 360Taxes.org will be one of the most important websites for taxpayers not just at tax filing time but also at each of their life stages. “You have to think about taxes when you’re buying, renovating or selling a home; getting married or divorced; starting a family; saving for retirement or an education; buying life insurance; and starting or selling a business,” Amin said.  “CPAs have always helped taxpayers plan for these financial decisions and now their expertise is backing 360Taxes.org.”

Features of 360Taxes.org include  Ask a CPA, which offers taxpayers a way to ask tax-related questions and read answers to questions from other taxpayers. The site also includes a Frequently Asked Questions section about timely tax topics, and it provides tax tips and in-depth articles on topics such as estate taxes and how to offset education costs using tax credits and deductions.

Online calculators help users determine the tax benefits of contributing to certain types of retirement plans and the cost of monthly mortgage payments. The site also offers links to consumer-focused tax blogs written by CPAs, and resources for choosing a CPA to help with tax and other financial services.

360Taxes.org is an extension of the AICPA’s 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy program, a public service, non-commercial effort to help Americans understand their personal finances through every stage of life.

Melancon noted that tax planning is most effective when integrated with a taxpayer’s overall financial plans and that financial and tax planning should happen all year long rather than just at tax time. “Because CPAs are expert at a broad variety of financial services such as financial, estate and business planning, they are uniquely qualified to combine tax planning with a taxpayer’s other financial needs,” he said.

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