Here's a small selection of tax books to give you a better handle on the mysteries of the federal tax code.
In Income Tax Mini-Manual you'll find an article on filing your federal income tax. Once you've digested the information there, however, you may find yourself looking for more details. We believe the following tax books would be helpful to you.
The most popular tome on personal income tax is J.K. Lasser's Your Income Tax. Lasser's book deals with taxes by IRS code section, rather than by subject, but the book's index will help you find the information you need. For the most part, it conservatively reports IRS positions; nonetheless, by studying Your Income Tax carefully you're likely to find some deductions you might otherwise have overlooked. You'll find it in just about any bookstore for $6.95 (published by Simon and Schuster).
One step up in detail (and complexity), Commerce Clearing House manuals are the standard for accountants and IRS auditors alike. Getting the whole collection costs more than many people pay in tax, but you can order the basic reference, CCH Master Tax Guide, for $13 plus shipping from CCH.One good alternative to purchasing the CCH Master Tax Guide is to review it and other CCH publications at your public library. Most libraries keep CCH, Bureau of National Affairs, Prentice-Hall, or Research Institute of America tax manuals on hand. Finally, if you're up against an audit, you'd do well to read Vernon K. Jacobs and Charles W. Schoeneman's The Taxpayer's Audit Survival Manual. At $35 (from Alexandria House Books), it comes a bit dearly ... but so can the results of an audit that doesn't go your way.