Getting state-specific information on business taxes is a laborious, time-consuming process -- unless you turn to the Web. A search on "State Taxes" at Google.com turned up, gulp, 74,900 hits. Many are direct links to individual state tax-agency Web sites, which is where many business owners will want to end up for forms, updates, and other key information. But we also found the following sites to be particularly useful:
www.toolkit.cch.com, sponsored by CCH Inc., a business and tax-publishing company. Under the SOHO Guidebook section is a large unit on "Controlling Your Taxes." It encompasses numerous easy-to-understand, yet comprehensive articles about federal, state, and local taxes including details on payroll, corporate income, and sales and use taxes. Users also can click on maps to get specific tax rates for each of the 50 states plus local jurisdictions. www.taxadmin.org, sponsored by the Federation of Tax Administrators in Washington, D.C. Under the "Links" section are direct connections to the revenue departments of each of the 50 states, plus a brief overview of what users will find on each of those sites. The organization also publishes the Directory of State Tax Administrators ($20), which provides the names and addresses of local tax authorities for inquiries and filing purposes.
www.bankrate.com, sponsored by the publishing company of the same name in North Palm Beach, Fla. This site has special sections on taxes and small businesses. Under the "Tax" section, users will find a state tax report with a map they can click on to get a summary of state income, personal, and sales tax rates, news on recent tax actions, and archives of state tax changes. Under the "Small Biz" section are numerous articles on tax issues plus tax tips.
www.taxfoundation.org, sponsored by the organization of the same name in Washington, D.C. Under the "State Finance" section are data on individual, corporate, and sales and use tax rates, including information on minimum payments and filing requirements on a state-by-state basis. The section also provides news and analysis of state tax trends.
www.nfib.com, sponsored by the National Federation of Independent Business. Under the "State Issues" section, users can click on a state and get a list of issues of interest to business owners, including tax changes or proposals, the NFIB's position, the status of the issue, and what business owners can do. The "Tools & Tips" section includes a unit on taxes, but the focus is on federal taxes. Additional units examine business accounting, compensation and benefits, marketing, and other topics of interest to business owners.
And, of course, BusinessWeek Online's Small Business channel. It offers basic tax information for small businesses, including tips on Becoming an S Corporation, Business Taxes in General, Business Deductions, Tax Audits. The Tax Adviser column is a new BW Online Small Business feature in which tax experts provide detailed answers to questions about tax issues from small-business owners.
By Virginia Munger Kahn in New York