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Tip 1:  Always get to know your student, but be sure to keep it at a professional level and nothing too personal   Tip 2:  Play certain educational games that can include learning definitions, or formulas    Tip 3:  Don't be too serious,  try to have a relaxing environment so the student won't feel so uptight   Tip 4:  Try to include comedy in the routine, from what I've learned most students either "hate" the subject and want to get it over with, but adding a comedic level to the subject can make them have a better attitude towards learning it.   Tip 5:  If a student does well on a test, I may bring in a snack or something to reward them with for their hard work

While I was tutoring fellow students I noticed they did not want to do the actual work or look in the back of the book for definitions.  They sat there and waited until I gave more to an answer or told them additional info.  I told them that I would not just give them the answers because they would never learn that way.  But how I did change them to start actually doing their own work was to relate the subject to their everyday lives.  One student, who was a bagpipe player told me the cost of the bus, the amount of pay to play in a parade and other various expenses and I told him what you did there was basic accounting.  He seemed kind of amazed that he had been doing this the whole time, just not out of a text book.  Once I started relating his hobby to the subject he started being more interested and started doing more of his own work.  So I find that relating a subject to the students or make it conform to their everyday lives will make them want... read more

In Accounting there are plenty of formulas, theories, and equations, but by far the most important is the following: Assets = Liabilities + Equity First, I will describe in layman’s terms the three variables within the equation above. An asset is a resource that will be used to operate a business (e.g. inventory, plant, machinery). A liability is a creditors right to the resources within the business (e.g. loan, accounts payable). Equity is the owner’s interest in the business (e.g. stock, retained earnings). Home ownership is an easy way to understand the relationship between the three variables. The house itself is an asset because it can be used to generate revenue from rent or a business can be ran within the home (e.g. daycare, tax preparation). The mortgage on the home is a liability because a mortgage is a loan from a bank. The home is collateral for the loan, so if the owner cannot pay back the loan the bank will be able to take ownership of the... read more

The IRS offers free tax help to members of the military and their families. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program has help sites both on and off base. This includes VITA sites to help our military overseas. Here are five tips to know about free tax help for the military: 1. Armed Forces Tax Council. The Armed Forces Tax Council oversees the military tax programs offered worldwide. AFTC partners with the IRS to do outreach to the military. This includes the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy. 2. Trained volunteers. IRS-trained volunteers staff the military VITA sites. They receive training on military tax issues, like tax benefits for service in a combat zone. The staff can help you with special extensions of time to file your tax return and to pay your taxes or with special rules that apply to the Earned Income Tax Credit. You can also get help with the new health care law tax provisions. 3. What to bring. Take the following records... read more

The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers who are unable to complete their tax returns on time that it’s easy to get more time to file their return. In fact, it can even be done online. For taxpayers who haven’t yet filed their taxes, the IRS has this advice: don’t panic. Taxpayers who need more time to complete their tax return can request an automatic six-month extension.    The fastest and easiest way to get the extra time is through the Free File link on IRS.gov. In a matter of minutes, anyone, regardless of income, can use this free service to electronically request an extension on Form 4868. Filing this form gives taxpayers until Oct. 15 to file a return. To get the extension, taxpayers must estimate their tax liability on this form and should also pay any amount due. The IRS cautions taxpayers that a request for an extension will give extra time to file a tax return; not extra time to pay any taxes owed. By filing either a... read more

The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers who are unable to complete their tax returns on time that it’s easy to get more time to file their return. In fact, it can even be done online. For taxpayers who haven’t yet filed their taxes, the IRS has this advice: don’t panic. Taxpayers who need more time to complete their tax return can request an automatic six-month extension.    The fastest and easiest way to get the extra time is through the Free File link on IRS.gov. In a matter of minutes, anyone, regardless of income, can use this free service to electronically request an extension on Form 4868. Filing this form gives taxpayers until Oct. 15 to file a return. To get the extension, taxpayers must estimate their tax liability on this form and should also pay any amount due. The IRS cautions taxpayers that a request for an extension will give extra time to file a tax return; not extra time to pay any taxes owed. By filing either a... read more

Many people who carry on a trade or business are self-employed. Sole proprietors and independent contractors are two examples of self-employment. If this applies to you, there are a few basic things you should know about how your income affects your federal tax return. Here are six important tips about income from self-employment: SE Income. Self-employment can include income you received for part-time work. This is in addition to income from your regular job. Schedule C or C-EZ. There are two forms to report self-employment income. You must file a Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business, or Schedule C-EZ, Net Profit from Business, with your Form 1040. You may use Schedule C-EZ if you had expenses less than $5,000 and meet other conditions. See the form instructions to find out if you can use the form. SE Tax. You may have to pay self-employment tax as well as income tax if you made a profit. Self-employment tax includes Social Security and Medicare taxes. Use Schedule... read more

The Internal Revenue Service is reminding individuals with home-based businesses filling out their 2014 federal income tax returns that they can choose a simplified method for claiming the deduction for business use of a home. In tax year 2012, the most recent year for which figures are available, nearly 3.4 million taxpayers claimed deductions of more than $10 billion for business use of a home, which is commonly referred to as the home office deduction. Introduced in tax year 2013, the optional deduction is designed to reduce the paperwork and record-keeping burden for small businesses. The optional deduction is capped at $1,500 per year, based on $5 a square foot for up to 300 square feet. Normally, home-based businesses are required to fill out a 43-line form (Form 8829) often with complex calculations of allocated expenses, depreciation and carryovers of unused deductions. Instead, taxpayers choosing the simplified method need only complete a short worksheet... read more

The Internal Revenue Service recently reminded taxpayers planning to claim charitable donations to make sure they have the records they need before filing their 2014 tax returns. For any taxpayer, keeping good records is key to qualifying for the full charitable contribution deduction allowed by law. In particular, this includes insuring that they have received required statements for two contribution categories—each gift of at least $250 and donations of vehicles. First, to claim a charitable contribution deduction, donors must get a written acknowledgement from the charity for all contributions of $250 or more. This includes gifts of both cash and property. For donations of property, the acknowledgement must include, among other things, a description of the items contributed. In addition, the law requires that taxpayers have all acknowledgements in hand before filing their tax return. These acknowledgements are not filed with the return but must be retained by the... read more

You can reduce your taxes and save on your energy bills with certain home improvements. Here are some key facts that you should know about home energy tax credits: Non-Business Energy Property Credit Part of this credit is worth 10 percent of the cost of certain qualified energy-saving items you added to your main home last year. This may include items such as insulation, windows, doors and roofs. The other part of the credit is not a percentage of the cost. This part of the credit is for the actual cost of certain property. This may include items such as water heaters and heating and air conditioning systems. The credit amount for each type of property has a different dollar limit. This credit has a maximum lifetime limit of $500. You may only use $200 of this limit for windows. Your main home must be located in the U.S. to qualify for the credit. Be sure you have the written certification from the manufacturer that their product qualifies for this... read more

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2015, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup or panel truck are: 57.5 cents per mile for business miles driven, up from 56 cents in 2014 23 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, down half a cent from 2014 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations These optional standard mileage rates are used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile, including depreciation, insurance, repairs, tires, maintenance, gas and oil. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs, such as gas and oil. The charitable rate is set by law. Taxpayers always have the option of claiming deductions based on the actual costs of using a vehicle rather than the standard mileage rates. A... read more

If you are a low-to-moderate income worker, you can take steps now to save two ways for the same amount. With the saver's credit you can save for your retirement and save on your taxes with a special tax credit. Here are five tips you should know about this credit: 1. Save for retirement. The formal name of the saver's credit is the retirement savings contributions credit. You may be able to claim this tax credit in addition to any other tax savings that also apply. The saver's credit helps offset part of the first $2,000 you voluntarily save for your retirement. This includes amounts you contribute to IRAs, 401(k) plans and similar workplace plans. 2. Save on taxes. The saver's credit can increase your refund or reduce the tax you owe. The maximum credit is $1,000, or $2,000 for married couples. The credit you receive is often much less, due in part because of the deductions and other credits you may claim. 3. Income limits. Income limits vary based on your... read more

Federal income tax refunds totaling $1 billion may be waiting for an estimated one million taxpayers who did not file a federal income tax return for 2011, the Internal Revenue Service announced today. To collect the money, these taxpayers must file a 2011 tax return with the IRS no later than Wednesday, April 15, 2015. "Time is running out for people who didn’t file a 2011 federal income tax return to claim their refund," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "People could be missing out on a substantial refund, especially students or part-time workers. Some people may not have filed because they didn’t make much money, but they may still be entitled to a refund.” The IRS estimates half of the potential refunds for 2011 are more than $698. In cases where a tax return was not filed, the law provides most taxpayers with a three-year window of opportunity for claiming a refund. For 2011 tax returns, the window closes on April 15, 2015. If no return... read more

Did you pay for college in 2014? If you did it can mean tax savings on your federal tax return. There are two education credits that can help you with the cost of higher education. The credits may reduce the amount of tax you owe on your tax return. Here are some important facts you should know about education tax credits. American Opportunity Tax Credit: You may be able to claim up to $2,500 per eligible student. The credit applies to the first four years at an eligible college or vocational school. It reduces the amount of tax you owe. If the credit reduces your tax to less than zero, you may receive up to $1,000 as a refund. It is available for students earning a degree or other recognized credential. The credit applies to students going to school at least half-time for at least one academic period that started during the tax year Costs that apply to the credit include the cost of tuition, books and required fees and supplies.   Lifetime... read more

I’ve been asked many times, “what is the best learning tool that an accounting student has in their arsenal”. When I’ve proposed this question to other modern accountants, they generally list out the programs they utilize most, Quicken, Excel, or the Intuit program du jour; all are cited as the best learning tools for the future accountant. My own response to this question may surprise anyone that has become an accountant post-1995, but would not shock the pre-computer group. While I am a member of the older crowd (by age), I am a new accountant in that I was not accounting professionally prior to 2000. So what tool is most important to me? What one piece of equipment is in my arsenal and is the most dangerous weapon in the accounting world? An abacus? Though I can use one and suggest everyone learn, not the most important tool. A Burroughs Sensitronic with magnetic tape to store ledger cards? Close, but again no. What, what, what apparatus is so important?          ... read more

A recent IRS Notice of Deficiency was sent to Joseph D. Scully, Jr. requiring him to pay additional tax, fines and penalties of $26,000 for a three period. This case was resolved in the U. S. Tax Court for an amount approximate to what the IRS was seeking. The main problem appears to be one that many of us have trouble with, lack of consistency. We all start out with good intentions, but over time, appointments, disorganization, forgetfulness and finally abandonment of your record keeping can occur. This is a problem that happens to many business owners and when it happens to a 501c(3) entity it can have even worse ramifications than fines and penalties, it can lead to possible revocation for failing to follow IRS code or for private benefit/inurement infractions.       The top five issues that occur with deductions are:  1. Stated business purpose is nonspecific or completely omitted      This generally occurs... read more

As accountants how do we teach the young/new learners coming into our field the evils of unethical behavior? You would believe that the recent examples of Bernie Madoff and the Enron executives are the best cautionary tales to someone making the choice between fraud and honesty, but the reality is different. Most swindlers never consider themselves criminals and many perpetrators of fraudulent acts start small, as did Madoff, and justify their actions through rationalizations. Over time the deceit grows to a size that the criminal can no longer hide. Enron did not start out with the hundreds of Special Purpose Entities (SPE’s) they collapsed under; they began with one and grew. Scholars have dedicated vast amounts of time trying to answer my initial question. Colleges offer courses in business and accounting ethics in an attempt to keep new entrants into the white collar world ethical, yet the problem of business fraud continues to grow. Perhaps it is not the education that is failing,... read more

Many students and new business owners dislike Accounting because they think it is boring and they don't understand the "language of Accountants".  Here are my five ways to help you get through Accounting: - Compare it to a company that you can relate to -  Inventory costing at Nike - Explain stock options and grants through the eyes of executives at Apple and you as a potential stockholder - Use Fixed Cost vs. Variable Cost examples at Chipotle - Demonstrate why accounting is important for failing businesses - Show real examples on accounting software like Quickbooks not just Microsoft Excel.   Accounting can be fun!        

As a tutor that have advertised myself as a teacher willing to help students with the CPA, I have come to find a wide spectrum of students with varying needs and propositions.  As a person who has studied and passed the CPA exam myself, I realize the number of hours needed to invest into the preparation, as well as the immense amount of materials being covered.     Before a student decides to reach out to a tutor, they should think about the following to facilitate their discussions with potential tutors:   1) What am I expecting out of the session, do I need to be taught the material, do I need pointers on being more effective and efficient in my studies, do I just need someone to keep me on track?   2) Do I possess relevant and updated materials to study, or do I need help from a tutor to locate that material   3) Knowing that there are so much material to cover and time needed to invest in my studies, and with the average... read more

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