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Quality Education

The Whole Truth About SAT Tutoring

Preparing for the SAT examination can be a trying experience. It requires months of dedication, perseverance and serious study, no matter how adept you are at problem solving. The design of the test requires you to be conversant with all subjects, and also have a flair for handling topics and writing objective essays.
If you are looking for a tutor to help with preparations for the SAT examination, it is best to understand where you stand, and what you are looking for from the tutoring. Finding a local tutor can save a lot of traveling time. You must understand how comfortable you are with the subjects involved, and have an assessment of the level you are looking to attain with coaching.
The first thing you must understand when looking for SAT tutoring is that you cannot get a certain formula which can be followed to master the test. The fundamental of this examination is an understanding of the concepts and their application. There is nothing that can simply be committed to memory to give you sure results.
Tutoring can certainly help you a great deal. There is a lot of advice and guidance that can be sought when you are in doubt and have troubles with certain topics of a subject. Fundamentals and theories can be explained and you can be given more exposure and practice to help you attain a greater level of comfort.
When you seek the assistance of a tutor, there is a very clear picture that you will have on the nature of questions that can be posed. You will understand the relevance of different topics in the examination, and have a better approach to how you must deal with topics. SAT tutoring can also help you with your essays and reading comprehensions. These two sections can only be mastered with practice, which the tutor is well equipped to give you. SAT tutoring is designed to expose you to more likely situations and questions.
The SAT examination is a time bound exam. There is only a limited time frame within which all questions must be attempted. Tutoring will help you practice answering questions in the same constraint and give you an idea of how successful you have been. This practice is bound to stand you in good stead. You will notice that the guidance given by your tutor in conjunction with your own diligence and hard work will start to pay off in time. It is easy to better your performance with a judicious mix of the two.
It is important to do your own groundwork and not rely on the tutor entirely. Give the SAT tutor their due, but make sure that you also supplement this with your own efforts. While the tutor is your guiding force and can help improve your performance, it is certainly not enough to rely on sessions with the tutor alone to make a success of the SAT exam. You must take it seriously and you are almost certain to make a career for yourself.…

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Education Current Events

Using Rebuttals in Argumentative Essays

In college writing, most essays argue for a position. They are persuasive essays in that the goal is to get the reader to believe a statement is true by providing support. This is what distinguishes high school writing from college writing. I have mentioned in other essays that sometimes one already knows what they want to argue for before they begin writing their essay. However, sometimes college students find or think of support for a position and argue for it, even if it is not the position they would prefer to take! No matter which of these situations describes you, you should provide a counterargument and a rebuttal in your essay. A counterargument is a good argument which weakens or calls into question the thesis of your essay. Acknowledging such an objection and responding to it will make your essay more interesting to read and also provide better, well substantiated support for your thesis.
A brief structural outline of an argumentative essay may look like this:
1. Thesis statement
2. Support for thesis
3. A reasonable objection detractors may take (this is the counterargument).
4. A response to this objection that addresses it and shows it to be weak, misguided or incorrect.
Here is a simple example:
Cemeteries near urban expanses ought to be used as both public parks and a place to memorialize the dead. They offer a huge expanse of space in which persons could recreate, meditate and reduce stress by getting away to a quieter place. Most urban environments are short on open space and cemeteries provide it. It may be objected that it is sacrilegious to suggest that places set aside for the purpose of remembering and honoring the dead be used by the public for recreation. This may be the current mindset of society, but that alone does not make it correct. Many societies used to hold that animals were mere automatons and that they did not deserve any rights. Now, a different view is held and animals are better understood and respected. So too it is with cemetery use. It is time to get used to the idea that the living and the dead both deserve to use the open spaces we have.
In this argument the thesis is that cemeteries should be used as public recreational facilities. The support for this is that most urban environments do not have the luxury of space to have both public parks and cemeteries and the living need space for the maintenance of mental and physical health. The counterargument is that it is blasphemous to suggest that sacred ground be used for multiple purposes; that it goes against the values that we hold as a society. The rebuttal given is that society used to believe X but gradually came to believe Y. Therefore, while we may now see the idea of cemeteries used as parks as immoral, it is merely a societal belief that could and should change, just like our attitude towards animals has changed.
Clearly, a short example like this will not suffice for a college level paper. But the idea is to get the basic idea in your mind, and then you can flesh it out into 5 or 8 pages as needed. If you need to write a longer piece, you can fill in more at each of the four basic elements of the simple outline above. If needed, you can add a second or tertiary counterargument and provide a rebuttal to all of them. This will make your argument even stronger, provided you have thought correctly about both the rebuttal and the response.
Thinking of an appropriate response to an objection brought against your position can be difficult. When I work with students, I usually suggest that they first try and think about what they might say in response. Depending on the position and the background knowledge a student has, this may or may not render a rebuttal. Second, I tell students to do a little internet research and see if they cannot find information that may help them (just be sure to credit outside sources in your essay). Finally, talking about a paper with peers can often lead to ideas to be utilized in an essay. While preparing rebuttals to counterarguments are time-consuming and difficult, the result is an essay which sets itself ahead of most.…

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General Article

The Smart Tax Professional: Advising Clients on How to Make the Most of Tax Refunds

The Smart Tax Professional: Advising Clients on How to Make the Most of Tax Refunds

Helping people invest in their futures by putting their federal tax return to work for them is one way for CPA, enrolled agents and other tax professionals to retrain clients and build a strong, competitive tax business. According the IRS, the average tax refund in 2010 was just over $3,000. That figure was up over 5% from 2009, due in large measure to a host of tax credits associated with he $800 billion government stimulus, and most people used their refunds to either pay down debt or to save.

What about this year? Well, let’s say that trend will taper off. The National Retail Federation recently surveyed 10,000 consumers and found that while the majority will still opt to save or lower debt with their refunds, the percentage of those choosing to spend their refund check this year surged 12.5%. A whopping 14% of Americans will invest their refund on a big-ticket item like plasma TBW, a luxury vacation or that insanely expensive sofa from Restoration Hardware. While these purchases may be cool, and are also a sure way to spruce up a home or give someone a much-needed and deserved break, there are better ways for people to spend their cash.

This is something that tax professionals like the CPA, the IRS enrolled agent and registered tax agent understand and encounter in their tax continuing education Tax CPE courses required for their professional certification typically cover top investment strategies for taxpayers, including how to leverage tax refunds as a way for building toward the future.

Below are seven suggestions in this respect that tax professionals should pass on to their clients when delivering the good news about an impending federal tax refund.

Financial Literary Training

These are financial courses — usually free or very low cost — that help can help taxpayers learn more about managing money, budgeting, checking and savings accounts, etc. Several courses are available, such as FDIC Money Smart, a financial education program through the federal government. Tax professionals looking to build a productive relationship with clients would be well served to encourage this important step.

High-Yielding Savings/Checking Accounts

Most financial organizations, such as banks or credit unions, offer savings or checking accounts. Encourage clients to place their new-found cash into a high-yielding savings/checking accounts where they can better interest, though this may sometimes require them to look beyond traditional brick and mortar institutions. Additionally, opening a savings or checking account allows other financial options? direct deposit and purchasing U.S. Series I savings bonds.

Individual Development Accounts

An IDA is a special savings account that has a matching funds aspect. Each time a person adds to the savings, they match the deposit.

Home Ownership Programs

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has programs available for low- to moderate-income individuals and families to make affordable housing a reality. Coupled with the tax benefits of the first-time homebuyer credit, using a tax refund to purchase a home could be a home run.

US Savings Bonds

Buying a US savings bond can be a valuable asset building option. Starting a savings program can provide many benefits, such as saving for a down payment on a home, higher education or buying a reliable car.

Split Refunds

This option allows taxpayers to split a refund into as many as three accounts. For example, they could deposit a portion of the refund into a checking account, some into an IRA account, and then buy savings bonds with the remaining amount.

Savings/Investing

Tax professionals should consider encouraging taxpayers with refunds to explore the following investing opportunities:

Contribute to an IRA. If a taxpayer qualifies for a tax-deductible IRA, they have until April 15th to contribute and claim the contribution for your current tax return. Alternatively, they could opt to put the tax refund into an IRA for the following tax year.

Open a Roth IRA. Even though taxpayers cannot deduct the contribution from their taxes, the Roth IRA provides a tax-free way to save for retirement.

Contribute to a 529 Plan. Not only will taxpayers be investing in their children’s college future by doing this, but many states offer plans with tax advantages, such as upfront deduction for contributions and income exemption on withdrawals.

Purchase CD’s. This option will allow taxpayers to establish a CD ladder for continued returns.

As competition among tax professionals grows, advising taxpayers on how to wisely invest their tax returns will help set you apart from the pack.

IRS Circular 230 Disclosure

Pursuant to the requirements of the Internal Revenue Service Circular 230, we inform you that, to the extent any advice relating to a Federal tax issue is contained in this communication, including in any attachments, it was not written …

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Education Information

So, You Want Your Child To Be A Pianist?

It seems to me every mother’s dream is to put her daughter in Music School to learn to play the piano or any other musical instrument. This does not necessarily mean that the child has to pursue a career in Music. It simply is a status symbol when a member of the family, usually the girls, can play Classical compositions and have a Piano Recital.
I had been teaching piano to very young children, having had advance units leading to an Associate degree in Music along with my Bachelor’s degree in Arts and Education. But being a graduate at the age of 18, I could hardly find a job as prospective employers think I was too young to be employed. So I went into tutoring piano for 2 years and the experience I had with children learning piano is something that might be valuable to mothers.
As early as 5 years old, some parents would prod these kids to enroll in Music schools. Unless a child is really gifted, this does not cause any problems. However, if the child is merely forced to– to keep her busy in the summer months, learning becomes a horrifying experience for the child who would play a “tug of war” with either the parents or the piano teachers.
In my case, I accepted kids only from age nine (9) for piano beginners. The attention span of those younger is very short and usually, it takes 10 minutes to get them concentrated on the piano before the actual lessons start like reading notes, simple exercises for finger dexterity and hands-on on the keyboard. After 20 minutes, the child sighs (sign of getting bored and tired) and as the teacher patiently pursues the lessons for the day, the kid’s eyes wander off. or may even complain (just about anything) or ask you instead to tell stories. As a teacher, you have to do justice to what you are being paid for an hour’s tutoring. So your tendency is to try as much as possible to keep the child at the piano with her struggling little fingers on the keys. I think of this not as piano tutoring but piano torturing with the eager parents as accomplices. It is for this reason that I gracefully turn down any child below 9 years old presented to me for piano lessons. And even if the child qualifies my age requirements, I would still assess if the child really wants to take up piano or have the lessons postponed in his later years. Sometimes, it takes some degree of a teacher’s creativity to get the child to appreciate piano. I would ask her what songs she likes and play them on the piano. Or play some light simplified classical music to get her acquainted with the Great Masters. I became popular in the community for making a child play the piano in just one year of tutoring and soon enough my young students grew in number. As soon as they have learned the Basics and moved on to Kohler or Czerny, I would advise them to enroll in the Music School, so they could join a Student’s Piano Recital which is every parent’s dream. Many pursued piano studies til high school while others dropped off after I stopped piano tutoring. But to all of them, I would say—never give up what is most dear to your heart. And many of them (now professionals) would remember me for that and say—though they have gone to various fields and ended in good careers, they still play the pieces I taught them and could play them by memory.
Every child has its own pace and level of development and we, parents, must remember that learning that is fun and enjoyable can leave lasting imprints for a lifetime.…

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General Article

CPE Course Basics for Determining Taxable Social Security Benefits

CPE Course Basics for Determining Taxable Social Security Benefits

One of the elements addressed in enrolled agent continuing education is the tax impact of Social Security benefits. Payments from the SS system are not subject to income tax for taxpayers who receive these benefits as their only income source.

Determining when Social Security benefits are taxable is not based upon age. Rather, EA CPE teaches the income formula used to calculate whether SS payments are taxable. Even individuals who receive income other than Social Security payments are not subject to income tax unless their calculation using the income formula exceeds a base amount based upon their marital status.

The determination first requires adding 50 percent of a taxpayer’s Social Security benefits to adjusted gross income as reported on the tax return plus any tax-exempt income, such as municipal bond interest. The sum of these figures is then compared to a threshold amount that is adjusted annually to the cost-of-living. For 2010, some SS benefits are taxable for taxpayers having an income formula result that exceeds $32,000 for a married filing joint tax return or $25,000 for those with a filing status of single, head of household, or qualifying widow (or widower).

For individuals who are married filing separately and lived together during the tax year, all Social Security benefits are subject to income tax. Enrolled agents or any professional with tax preparer certification must be aware of the formula and income base amounts in order to make accurate determinations of tax treatment.

This is especially important when the recipient of Social Security benefits might be a dependency exemption for another taxpayer. The calculation for tax determination on SS payments affects the income test for the qualified relative dependency exemption. That is, the determination of taxable income is the applicable figure used for annual income of a potential dependent relative.

Because taxpayers whose only income source is Social Security do not have taxable income, they will meet the income test for exemption as a qualifying relative. A CPE course therefore will include study about SS benefits relating to the tax impact on the recipient and the tax impact on someone who can claim the recipient as a dependent.

IRS Circular 230 Disclosure

Pursuant to the requirements of the Internal Revenue Service Circular 230, we inform you that, to the extent any advice relating to a Federal tax issue is contained in this communication, including in any attachments, it was not written or intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (a) avoiding any tax related penalties that may be imposed on you or any other person under the Internal Revenue Code, or (b) promoting, marketing or recommending to another person any transaction or matter addressed in this communication.…

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Education Policy

Understanding Conic Sections – Parabolas, Circles, Ellipses, and Hyperbolas

Introduction
The following will serve as a brief overview of conic sections or in other words, the functions and graphs associated with the parabola, the circle, the ellipse, and the hyperbola. Initially, it should be noted that these functions are named conic sections since they represent the various ways in which a plane can intersect with a pair of cones.
The Parabola
The first conic section usually studied is the parabola. The equation of a parabola with a vertex at (h, k) and a vertical axis of symmetry is defined as (x – h)^2 = 4p(y – k). Note that if p is positive, the parabola opens upward and if p is negative, it opens downward. For this type of parabola, the focus is centered at the point (h, k + p) and the directrix is a line found at y = k – p.
On the other hand, the equation of a parabola with a vertex at (h, k) and a horizontal axis of symmetry is defined as (y – k)^2 = 4p(x – h). Note that if p is positive, the parabola opens to the right and if p is negative, it opens to the left. For this type of parabola, the focus is centered at the point (h + p, k) and the directrix is a line found at x = h – p.
The Circle
The next conic section to be analyzed is the circle. The equation of a circle of radius r centered at the point (h, k) is given by (x – h)^2 + (y – k)^2 = r^2.
The Ellipse
The standard equation of an ellipse centered at (h, k) is given by [(x – h)^2/a^2] + [(y – k)^2/b^2] = 1 when the major axis is horizontal. In this case, the foci are given by (h +/- c, k) and the vertices are given by (h +/- a, k).
On the other hand, an ellipse centered at (h, k) is given by [(x – h)^2 / (b^2)] + [(y – k)^2 / (a^2)] = 1 when the major axis is vertical. Here, the foci are given by (h, k +/- c) and the vertices are given by (h, k+/- a).
Note that in both types of standard equations for the ellipse, a b 0. Also, c^2 = a^2 – b^2. It is important to note that 2a always represents the length of the major axis and 2b always represents the length of the minor axis.
The Hyperbola
The hyperbola is probably the most difficult conic section to draw and understand. By memorizing the following equations and practicing by sketching graphs, one can master even the most difficult hyperbola problem.
To start, the standard equation of a hyperbola with center (h, k) and a horizontal transverse axis is given by [(x – h)^2/a^2] – [(y – k)^2/b^2] = 1. Note that the terms of this equation are separated by a minus sign instead of a plus sign with the ellipse. Here, the foci are given by the points (h +/- c, k), thevertices are given by the points (h +/- a, k) and the asymptotes are represented by y = +/- (b/a)(x – h) +k.
Next, the standard equation of a hyperbola with center (h, k) and a vertical transverse axis is given by [(y- k)^2/a^2] – [(x – h)^2/b^2] = 1. Note that the terms of this equation are separated by a minus sign instead of a plus sign with the ellipse. Here, the foci are given by the points (h, k +/- c), the vertices are given by the points (h, k +/- a) and the asymptotes are represented by y = +/- (a/b)(x – h) + k.
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General Article

Overview Of Collection Notices

Overview Of Collection Notices

Collections notices mailed by the Internal Revenue Service must be dealt with immediately. Ignoring a notice will result in subsequent stages of IRS action.

The Collection Procedure

Sometimes the IRS sends multiple letters that are identical. Sometimes a notice of tax due is misplaced and a levy notice is the first correspondence received. In order to avoid missing letters and notices from the IRS, taxpayers may designate someone else as an additional recipient with a power of attorney. The IRS sends a copy of the letter to the tax professional designated by the power of attorney, which is granted using IRS Form 2848. These designated individuals are usually certified public accountants (CPAs) or IRS Enrolled Agents (EAs).

There are several sources for enrolled agent lookup. Enrolled agents who are members of the National Association of Enrolled Agents complete 30 educational hours each year. Most of this course work consists of online continuing education credits.

The IRS has several collection actions available if no response is received to the initial notice of tax due. Usually, the IRS will levy bank accounts or wages. In addition, a common collection practice is placing liens on property. This affects the taxpayer’s credit rating and borrowing ability. Refinancing a home that has a tax lien attached is only possible with IRS approval. The IRS also has authority to seize property and liquidate it with a public sale.

The IRS is permitted by law to share tax information with city and state tax agencies. In addition, the law allows the IRS to contact anyone who might assist with investigating a tax debt. This includes the taxpayer’s neighbors, employer, bank, and co-workers.

Notice Content

Some tax collection notices are not related to errors on tax returns or misstatements of income. Rather, they are assessments of penalties and interest for underpayment of IRS estimated tax payments. This is an opportunity to accurately calculate estimated tax payments. A CPA is not required. An EA is duly capable of this task due to the required completion of tax courses.

Not all collection notices are accurate. Some simply indicate that the IRS is unable to match declared income of a taxpayer to payments of income reported by those who paid the taxpayer. On many occasions, notices are the result of mismatched information from different sources. Some income that a notice may claim is not reported has in fact been reported and taxed. If income has been omitted from a tax return, the IRS notice does not indicate any offsetting deductible expenses or cost.

A common collection notice indicates income reported to the IRS by payers that is not identifiable on the tax return of the recipient. This includes interest, dividends, non-employee compensation, and proceeds from securities sales.

Collection notices from the IRS often address a Form 1099-MISC. This income may already be reported on the tax return of a partnership or S corporation of the taxpayer. Or a pending amended tax return may include business expenses that offset the added income. A reply to the notice should reference the expectation of an amended tax return filing.

Notices that reference income on securities sales calculate tax on the entire sale proceeds. The cost basis of the sold assets must be reported on an amended schedule to adjust the tax computation.

A tax professional is most capable of comparing information in the notice to the tax return. Sometimes a reply is not necessary. A notice may state that the taxpayer will receive a bill for the tax if there is no response disagreeing with the notice of tax due. Alternatively, the notice may request return of the notice with signature and payment. Either way, timely assessment of the accuracy in the notice is imperative. Interest charges continue to accrue during any delay.

Responding

An IRS notice usually covers a very specific issue about a tax return. Instructions on the notice about replies should be followed exactly. Responses should concisely target the issue in the notice. The best response method is in writing with copies retained. Any facts stated in the response should be supported with attached proof.

Commonly, the IRS may grant an extension of time for response to the notice. When this is obtained by phone, a short confirmation letter should be sent to the IRS, indicating the name and badge number of the agent who provided the extension and the date granted.

Taxpayers have the right for representation by others when dealing with IRS matters. When there is disagreement with the tax assessment in a collection notice, a factual immediate response is essential. A taxpayer representative is experienced with presenting relevant information to the IRS.

A professional tax representative can also obtain IRS approval for delay of any further collection process. Delays may be granted until there’s …