It’s hard to keep track of all the valuable resources out there on the Internet -- and harder still to find information on the Web when you don’t even know that it exists. Many of the below sites have popped up as “Web Stars” in WebCPA’s weekly e-newsletter over the past couple of years, but they’re worth mentioning again. All are maintained by the federal government -- or by an organization that’s at least as reputable as the federal government, anyways -- and offer free, frequently-updated regular content. I usually try to cover the more interesting decisions and summary opinions issued by The U.S. Tax Court, but practitioners should be aware that cases decided by the court, dating back to 1999, are easily accessible from the site. The site also includes forms, fee schedules and case timetables to visitors though a very easy-to-navigate interface. For the statistics-minded among us, two sites serve to provide just about every number a person could need. The Internal Revenue Service’s Web site (which itself deserves a look), includes a revamped "Tax Stats" page holding a wealth of statistical information on individuals, businesses, charities and IRS operations organized by category. The page also includes access to the most frequently requested statistical information and popular IRS publications and products. As if that wasn’t enough data, the agency’s Statistics of Income Division also added revised table formats and updated report formats in recent years. Secondly, FedStats, the self-proclaimed "gateway to statistics," provides users with a broader virtual reference shelf of statistics from over 100 federal agencies and categories, ranging from agriculture to transportation. Also worth making mention of is the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s site. It was only recently that I realized how sprawling and in-depth the content was on the site, which, I suppose, makes sense for an agency charged with a mission of transparency. All of the public inspection reports for audit firms are available for download here, as are complete versions of proposed changes to Sarbanes-Oxley’s internal control provisions and the corresponding comment letters. On another broader reference plane, I can’t say enough good things about Investopedia.com. The site defines thousands of finance and investment terms, from A Priori Probability (probability calculated by logically examining existing information) to Zombies (companies that continue to operate even though they are insolvent. Also known as Living Dead). But you probably knew those. Terms are explained in textbook style and in layman's terms and the dictionary is eminently searchable -- by keyword, alphabet or any of 15 categories. Finally, for a bit of fun and education, Quatloos.com is a site that covers a wide variety of financial scams and has special sections devoted to tax scams and investment fraud. The site, maintained by nonprofit group Financial and Tax Fraud Education Associates Inc., also offers a number of forums moderated with a light-hearted touch by Quatloos staffers. More valuable sites such as these can be found in WebCPA’s Marketplace, which is accessible from the top of any page on the site by clicking on the tab in the gray navigation box.
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