Although the Internet wasn't exactly the best place to sell pet food (remember the sock puppet from Pets.com) or streamline your grocery shopping (WebVan became Web-vanished in less than a year), it has turned out to be a nearly perfect medium for tax research.

Boiled down to its essence, the Web is essentially a communications tool like a letter, the phone, or business meeting. What makes it special it that it makes it possible (in theory) for a person, sitting at their computer, to view every single letter sent to the Main Post office in Manhattan, talk with relatives in Timbuktu while viewing a picture of their newborn baby, and read the latest news or IRS ruling online as soon as it’s written.

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