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     The uniform CPA exam is regarded as one of the most difficult professional exams, with a passing rate around 50% for all of the sections. However, attaining a CPA license will give you many opportunities in your career. The requirements for the CPA license vary by state, but they all include education (150 credit hours with basically a major in accounting), examination (it is the same exam for all states), and experience (1-2 years). You need the education (or at least a couple of months away from getting it) to sit for the exam, but you do not need the experience portion to sit for the exam. The sections of the CPA are: Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Audit (AUD), Regulation (REG), and Business and Economic Concepts (BEC). Thankfully there are many CPA review courses that will be extremely helpful to you as you prepare. Becker is the standard in the industry (the one I used), but it also the most expensive ($3,400). There are a lot of similarities in... 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

If you adopted or tried to adopt a child in 2014, you may qualify for a tax credit. If your employer helped pay for the costs of an adoption, you may be able to exclude some of your income from tax. Here are some things you should know about adoption tax benefits. Credit or Exclusion. The credit is nonrefundable. This means that the credit may reduce your tax to zero. If the credit is more than your tax, you can’t get any additional amount as a refund. If your employer helped pay for the adoption through a written qualified adoption assistance program, you may qualify to exclude that amount from tax. Maximum Benefit. The maximum adoption tax credit and exclusion for 2014 is $13,190 per child. Credit Carryover. If your credit is more than your tax, you can carry any unused credit forward. This means that if you have an unused credit in 2014, you can use it to reduce your taxes for 2015. You can do this for up to five years, or until you fully use the credit,... 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

Make your New Year's Resolution to increase your study habits.  That might include a qualified tutor who can help you get through the land mines of unfamiliar territory.  I taught accounting for 22 years at college level and would be glad to work with you during the spring semester.  My specialties are the first two accounting courses, managerial accounting, and cost accounting.    My goal is to recruit students who truly want to learn the subject matter, then to assist those students in achieving the highest possible grade in the class.    Please be a serious student; some have expected me to do their homework for them, but that is not what an outstanding tutor does.  I will help you walk through difficult problems and reach their solutions.  I will help you navigate but I won't drive the bus.    I enjoy working with community college students and four year school students.  My rates are reasonable... read more

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