Americans Flocking to AOL's Tax Planning Forum Usage Already Up 85% Over 1997 and Accelerating Rapidly as Tax Day Nears

April 1, 1998

Continued Evidence of Growing Trend in Online Personal Finance -One of the Hottest Channels on AOL Dulles, VA, April 1, 1998 - AOL Interactive Services announced today that it has already seen an 85% increase in the use of the AOL Tax Planning Forum over 1997 with that number accelerating as tax day nears. The dramatic growth signals an increase in the use of the online medium in handling taxes and is continued evidence of the growing trend in online personal finance. While millions of Americans will file their taxes online this year, it's the use of AOL for tax-related information and advice that is really exploding. Americans are looking for a way to make handling their taxes easier and in record numbers, they're turning to AOL's Tax Planning Forum. There they find expert advice and information on the latest tax laws as well as 1997 tax forms and the best tax planning, calculating and filing tools available (keyword: Tax). Small businesses and entrepreneurs are also using AOL's new Business Tax Center for their unique tax needs. "Traditional tax preparation is time-consuming and for many very intimidating. AOL's simple-to-use, easy-to-understand, well-organized Tax Forum makes this ordinarily laborious task easier," said Rob Shenk, Director of the AOL Personal Finance Channel. "We're finding that the ease of preparing and filing taxes electronically is fundamentally changing the way people handle their taxes, much like ATMs changed the way people bank." Continued Shenk: "AOL Tax Planning puts anything and everything members want to know about taxes in one place, and gives people what they really need, from tools to help calculate taxes to a tax professional to consult when questions arise. So, whether you're doing your taxes yourself or organizing information for an accountant, and whether you plan to actually file online or not, it's a terrific resource." Five Online Tax Tips/Most Popular Resources AOL's Tax Planning Forum suggests five ways to let AOL help you easily and successfully plan, calculate and file taxes online: 1. Ask the experts - AOL members can chat live with tax professionals and submit questions to CPA's to be answered within 24 hours. The ability to get one-on-one advice about anything from how selling a home affects your return to whether your 18-year-old is still considered a dependent; the ability to get all this information from a tax expert is of tremendous value to AOL members. "AOL has tax experts working round-the-clock and they're getting busier as tax day approaches. After all, where else can you find free CPA's?" said Shenk. 2. Know the laws that affect you - AOL's Tax Planning forum keeps members abreast of the latest tax laws, who they affect, and what they mean to you. Said Shenk, "If you're not informed about tax laws that could save you money, you're losing money." 3. Calculate your taxes online - In a deal with Intuit, AOL members can access TurboTax Online from America Online for $9.95. TurboTax is a leading tax software program, allowing members to prepare taxes easily by asking a series of straightforward questions like "Did you sell any stocks this year?" and "Do you have children?" and then using the answers to these questions to calculate the refund or amount owed. TurboTax Online helps users complete their taxes more easily, accurately and in a fraction of the time it would take to calculate and prepare them off-line. 4. File electronically - After preparing their taxes through TurboTax Online, members can electronically send taxes to the IRS through AOL. AOL members who file electronically will find there is a shorter processing time, and they will receive proof from the IRS that their tax return was received. Members who file through TurboTax Online can check the status - the amount of refund or debt - of their taxes online. 5. Get tax forms from home - One of the biggest online time savers is the ability to download and print tax forms, saving members the hassle of a trip to the Library or Post Office and fishing through the piles to find the form that's right for them. Quick access to forms online is a huge convenience factor because members can simply reprint their forms when mistakes are made. Nearly 100,000 tax forms have been downloaded through AOL's Tax Planning area already this season - and that number is expected to rise sharply as tax day approaches. About AOL's Business Tax Center One of the biggest hurdles people face in running their own business is staying on top of numerous federal, state, and local tax obligations. Useful tax tools and information are provided by AOL's WorkPlace Channel together with Intuit, H&R Block, The Small Business Library, The Business Know-How Forum and more. The AOL Business Tax Center (keyword: Business Tax) located in AOL's WorkPlace Channel and the AOL Tax Planning Forum includes information for quarterly filers, FAQs from the tax mavens at H&R Block, and a set of IRS forms and publications to help businesses manage their taxes all year. Links to IRS publications also provide information that help businesses plan for next year and operate today. For new businesses and entrepreneurs who are concerned about tax obligations, The Business Know-How Forum has created the '98 Tax Help Center. It answers difficult questions from what the car mileage rate is to what percentage of business entertainment expenses businesses may deduct. The Tax Help Center helps the small businesses using AOL's WorkPlace Channel, find the tax facts and forms they need. AOL Delivers Trusted Brands AOL's recent partnership with Intuit, the leader in tax preparation software, is one of the key reasons behind AOL members turning out in droves for tax help. Intuit's TaxLogic brings tax professionals and CPAs online answering a gamut of questions from job changes to home buying, new tax laws and having children. The Motley Fool offers English language explanations of the "kiddie tax", the inheritance tax and other complicated taxes. Worth Magazine even offers AOL members a Tax Survival Guide. The Tax Planning forum is also loaded with useful information AOL members are taking advantage of from partners like Business Week, MoneyWhiz, Sage, Ric Edelman, OfficeMax, and About Work, among others. AOL also links to valuable tax related Internet sites like the IRS site and the Roth IRA web site.

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