Get Basic Tax Info With Publication 17

Are you totally clueless about your taxes? Don’t worry, the government is here to help! The IRS puts out a 300-page document called Publication 17. It can serve as a getting started guide for doing your taxes and answer questions like what to do when you have a baby, retire, or sell stock. Pub 17 also covers some of the new changes in store for 2008, like the expiring capital gains tax, IRA deduction increases, changes to child’s investment income, and ever so much more. No, you don’t have to read the whole darn thing. It’s a PDF so you can search for specific keywords and phrases. If you’re doing your taxes yourself and have some basic questions you need answering, Pub 17 is a good place to start.

Publication 17 (PDF) [IRS]


Edit Your Comment

  1. stillkarenann says:

    Who knew that you’re supposed to claim bartering as income (pg 82). I’ll get right on that.

  2. AD8BC says:

    The tax code could be simplified to 1 page, after abolishing the IRS.

    If everybody were taxed at a flat 10%, the country would be doing great.

    Except for those IRS agents that would be out of work.

  3. @stillkarenann: you made it to page 82!? you’ve got to be lying!

  4. stillkarenann says:

    Skipped right to “other income”. I don’t have THAT much free time.

  5. RandomHookup says:


    You can’t blame the IRS for the tax code (though they are the ones to intrepret it)…that’s Congress’s job. And don’t forget all the tax preparers who would be unemployed as well.

  6. stillkarenann says:

    Personally can’t get on board with the ‘think of the unemployed’ argument. Some careers simply have a finite lifespan and keeping the jobs around after they’re obsolete is kinda meh.

  7. inelegy says:


    I’ll get right on that.


  8. deadlizard says:

    Is that a tiny Hitler at the bottom corner of the picture?

  9. The Great Aussie Evil says:

    @deadlizard: Godwin’s law!

  10. Nytmare says:

    They also have it in HTML instead of PDF. []

  11. deadlizard says:

    Godwin’s Law should have an admenment excluding the IRS.

  12. GeekChicCanuck says:

    Another way to get help with your U.S. taxes is to find the nearest VITA center. VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) is a program that trains and certifies volunteers to assist low and middle income people with filling out their taxes. They also offer e-filing. VITA services are free to people who qualify.

    VITA sites are usually located in community centers, schools, colleges or public libraries. To find the VITA center nearest to you call 1-800-829-1040.

  13. brokeincollege says:

    They make paying your taxes ridiculously complicated, and then when you declare the wrong amount of taxes you owe, they nail you with penalties and fines. What the hell is that?

    It’s like setting you up for failure and then penalizing you when you inevitably do. I’m kind of in a fuzzy situation as I only have less somewhere around $100 and $150 in interest income, and I’m apparently in the 10% bracket but I’m told I don’t have to file. Make up your mind, IRS.

  14. rhombopteryx says:


    I’ll make it even simpler than one page, just one sentance:

    All taxes are paid – half by ‘flat tax’ loonies and half by the presidential candidates who espouse them.

    There, very simple. Not very fair, though. But then again, neither is a flat tax.

  15. BugMeNot2 says:

    Ron Paul would fix this mess.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Where is my “tax home”?
    I live in Palmer. My employer is based in Anchorage, 50 miles away. My sole work site is in Prudhoe Bay, 600 miles form Anchorage. I work two weeks on, then go to Palmer and have two weeks off (no work). Is Prudhoe Bay my “tax home”?