Help in Learning About Taxes
by Ron Chester ★ Saturday, April 22, 2017

Right after the end of tax season, one of my clients on extension asked me for advice on how she could get hatted on the subject of taxes. In 33 tax seasons she was the first client who ever asked for a way to get herself informed about taxes. I was impressed, but not surprised. She has worked for decades at a private school where the kids develop learning skills and discover they can learn anything. Some people don't know this, but she does. [Image: Wikimedia Commons]

Since this had never come up before, I didn't have a list of recommendations ready for her, but I did some searching and came up with three recommendations for her.

Receipts to Keep

These days the Internet is always the first place to look, right? I googled a phrase in her question, "categories and things I should keep track of to pay minimal taxes" and found one website I can recommend from Their videos are clear and simple, and the text is the same. Follow links in the article to other pages that are also clear and simple. This may be all you need to gather what you need to get started with your taxes.

Jargon in Taxes

There is a lot of jargon in taxes and that can have its pitfalls, a barrier to study. One can always google any term one comes across and then look for definitions and explanations in the results at the IRS website ( I also found a well organized compilation of such things, a Wikibook with eight chapters on income tax. Its a bit academic, but presents all the key topics in taxation in a well ordered way with good definitions. It might be useful to keep it as both a primer and then as a reference.

Simple Book on Taxes

I found a book that looks like it might be good. The usual tax time books that come out every year by Lasser and others are 800 page door stops with much more detail than the average person needs or wants. I found a simple book that is 100 pages, available for $5 as a Kindle book, $14 as a new paperback or $11 as a used paperback. It got 4.6 stars out of 5 stars from 158 reviews on Amazon. I have only seen the few pages in the preview of the book and read some of the reviews, but it looks good.

Of course tax matters are changing all the time, so some details in the above can be out of date. If you use any or all of these choices, please let me know your experience with them. So if someone else asks me again in the next 33 years, I can include some data about whether these are really very good or not.