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Education For All

Under-Performing US Kids – Grave Concern For Parents & Educators

In the article titled “U.S. Teens Trail Peers Around World on Math-Science Test”, Washington Post elaborates the state of US students. CNN echoes the same in its article named “U.S. students behind in math, science, analysis says”.
These are just some of the articles that explain the growing concern among parents and educators in the United States. Isn’t it ironical that a country that is the most developed in the world fails to keep up with its counterparts as far as the school educational system is concerned?
A country’s future depends on the development of its children. Someone has rightly said “Our children are our only hope for the future, but we are their only hope for their present and their future”.
According to the American Institutes for Research (AIR), the scores and rankings of 12 nations in the 2003 International Mathematics Assessments for Grades 4 and 8, US did not stand anywhere close to the top
US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan did not shy from speaking the harsh truth in front of a room full of Math & Science experts of the National Science Board “We are lagging the rest of the world, and we are lagging it in pretty substantial ways, I think we have become complacent. We’ve sort of lost our way”.
Developing nations like South Korea showed better results in the tests. All these have not alarmed just the academia in the United States, but also the business world that has started questioning America’s future on account of its faulty education system.
What are the causes behind the under performance of US kids? Let us examine them one at a time.
Teaching Methodology
The way teachers teach Math and Science in schools in the US do not quite help kids develop interest in these subjects. Compared to Asian nations, US schools do not teach ‘real’ math until children reach upper grades.
Hatred for Math
Ask any child in the US about his take on Math and his expression would answer your question. American kids fear Math. Again, this is due to their disinterest in Math, which is due to ‘established prejudice’ and boring teaching techniques.
One Size Fit All approach of NCLB
Standardized tests have worsened education system in the US. Unless we try to access the child’s problem solving process, we cannot just measure his performance on the basis of some tests. Children, each one of them, have their own unique identity. Applying a one-for-all test pattern can NEVER improve the education system.
Blame-Games between educators and parents, educators and government make matter worse. It is time parents and educators sit together and ponder over the current scenario and work out ways to improve the same. Last but not least, let us not sing to the tunes of the No Child Left Behind Act. I am sure school administrators voice the same opinion. An Act that cannot do any good to the education system should not exist!…

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General Article

Life Insurance – Continuing Education for Insurance Professionals

Life Insurance – Continuing Education for Insurance Professionals

As an insurance agent, broker, underwriter or any other insurance professional, if you want to survive in the very competitive insurance industry, you will have to enhance your skill sets and at the same time improve upon your knowledge levels. This means that you will have to keep yourself up to date with the latest changes happening in the life insurance industry. You should be aware of the latest changes in the terms and conditions, policies and regulations. You must have a thorough knowledge of the various laws that govern insurance contracts.

It is quite difficult to keep up with all the changes that take place on a daily basis. This is precisely why you will have to enroll into online continuing education classes. By joining life insurance continuing education online you will be able to improve not only your knowledge levels but also your sales skills that are so very vital for the continued success of your business.

There are many people who prefer an online life insurance continuing education program to traditional classroom training. Since most people who join these courses are from the insurance industry itself, it is very difficult to provide the kind of time that is required for classroom training. This can impact their day to day business, especially insurance agents and insurance brokers and other sales professionals.

People enroll into online Life insurance CE programs because it is very convenient. In fact for most part time insurance agents and other full time insurance professionals, online education is a blessing in disguise. You can enjoy a wide range of benefits by enrolling into an online life insurance continuing education program. Given below are some of the benefits.

By enrolling online, you save a lot of time since there is no pressure of being at the venue on time. In fact, you can sit in the cool confines of your home and study for your insurance course.

Online education enables you to prepare better as there are a whole range of study material available online. There are many free books online related to your subject that you can browse through. This will help you in acquiring greater knowledge and skill.

An important aspect of online life insurance continuing education programs is that you do not have to pay anything unless you want to take an online exam. There are a wide range of online insurance courses available. Depending upon your interest you can enroll into life insurance, health insurance, property insurance, vehicle insurance, risk insurance, marine insurance, etc. You also have online courses on risk management, ethics, insurance marketing, safety and other industry related topics.

The best part of online insurance CE programs is that you can always access the latest versions related to the subject. You can study at your own convenience with no questions asked. This means that there is no pressure or competition breathing down your neck. You can relax and study with renewed vigor. Finally, life insurance continuing education programs online help in enhancing your knowledge base. This is because you can actually browse through different sites on the internet and acquire as much information as you want to.…

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General Article

Continuing Education – Is It Worth the Investment?

Continuing Education – Is It Worth the Investment?

There are many factors students consider when going back to school. Affordability is often on top of their list. Many try to determine the risk V. reward. Is a $30,000 master’s degree worth it? Will I get a promotion or land a better job? It is recommended to look at where you are in your career, where you want to be, and how many more years you will be in the workforce. We will give you a couple of examples and help you decide what the individual should do.

John Smith is 35 years old, married with two children. He is currently working as a team leader for Nike. John has a bachelor’s degree from University of Phoenix and he is considering going back to school for an MBA in Project Management. Nike is a very large company and they are constantly hiring and offering their employees advancement opportunities. Taking all of this into consideration, an advanced degree should certainly benefit John. He has about 30 years left in his career and has a lot of growth potential in his current company. An MBA could help him move into a more managerial or director type role.

Mary Moore has a little bit of a different situation. She is 52 years old and COO of Unique Printers. It is a smaller company and she reports directly to the President. She is looking at multiple programs online. She is considering investing $42,000 for her Master’s in Human Resources. Mary has been working 35 years now and wants to retire at the age of 60. Due to her circumstances, we would probably not recommend Mary to continue her education at this time. There is little to no room for advancement and she will only be working another eight years.

As you can see, everyone thinking about going back to school has a different situation. Some are harder than others. Again, it goes back to the risk V. reward. One thing that may sway your decision is if your employer will help fund your education. In the previous example, if the President was willing to pay Mary’s tuition then she would really have to think it over. It would be very tough to turn town a free education. Employers do this often to show how they are investing in their employees. They hope the employee grows in their role and stays committed to their company. The only drawback is if the employee decides to leave for a better opportunity.…

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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.


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 …

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General Article

The Importance of Discussion Board Postings in Online Classes

The Importance of Discussion Board Postings in Online Classes

Many students have taken or are taking online classes these days. They are becoming more and more popular each and every year. One of the major fears of an online class is the lack of interaction with the other students and more importantly the professor. Students are scared they won’t be able to reach the professor if they have a question or network with peers in their courses. After doing some research I actually found more students said they interacted with their peers in their online course than sitting in a classroom. This is mainly due to discussion board postings in an online course room. Students are able to post discussion topics in the online forum and other students are able to post comments, ask questions, or just read what the other students have posted. Discussion board postings are usually graded by the professor or graduate assistant and typically count for about 30% of a student’s overall grade. As you can see they are very important in an online class and could help you pass or fail a class!

The discussion board postings could be on a number of different topics. To start a class the professor usually asks the class to do an introduction post to introduce themselves to the rest of the class and so he/she could get to know them a little bit better. After the first post, students are usually required to post three to four times a week and also respond to other students. Discussion board postings are highly interactive and many students login to their course room on a daily basis. The topics of the post could range from: answering questions from the textbook, writing a summary of a video they watched, discussing their opinions on an article and so on. Professors usually try to mix up the different topics to keep students engaged. Sometimes in an online class it is a little harder to do than you would expect.

As you can see there is plenty of interaction between the students and the professors in most online courses. You are able to chat, email, or use discussion board postings to communicate with others. Many students also use Skype. As stated earlier, participation is typically a large percentage of your grade so it is not only recommended it is required! So if your only fear is that you will not be able to reach your professor or network with peers in an online class rest assure that is not the case.…

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EA Continuing Education Is the Most Reliable Training for Taxpayer Audits

EA Continuing Education Is the Most Reliable Training for Taxpayer Audits

When taxpayers receive audit notices from the IRS, they turn to tax professionals for assistance. This increases the demand for enrolled agents as more taxpayers are notified about IRS examinations of previously filed tax returns.

Common audit notices merely require reply by mail. But some involve meeting with an IRS officer. Either way, substantiation of questioned deductions is required. In addition, any prior omissions of income can trigger a taxpayer search for unreported deductible expenses that are related to the income.

As an enrolled agent, your tax CPE addresses various types of reportable income and associated expense deductions. This is a significant value required by recipients of audit notices. It’s a level of expertise that distinguishes an enrolled agent for tax services. Only enrolled agents have CPE that addresses strictly tax issues.

Other professionals who can represent taxpayers before the IRS are CPAs and attorneys. But individuals with these practices may complete CPE in subjects other than tax matters. Enrolled agents stand out as premier tax practitioners. When promoting tax services, pointing out your enrolled agent continuing education requirements enhances your appeal and builds your business.

Despite IRS efforts to simplify audit notices, they customarily confuse recipients. Some of the simplest audit cases for an enrolled agent to handle involve mismatches of income reporting sources. The biggest example is income on a taxpayer’s return that doesn’t match reporting by payment sources on Form 1099-Misc. This can occur when the issuer of a 1099 uses an incorrect taxpayer ID number.

For example, owners of partnership or S corporation businesses may receive 1099s with their social security numbers instead of the taxpayer ID for the businesses. In other cases, taxpayers accidentally omitted on their originally filed tax returns some extra income reported on a 1099. However, tax is not necessarily owed on the entire 1099 amount. Instead, these taxpayers can deduct ordinary and necessary expenses from the compensation reported on the 1099.

The training in EA continuing education provides knowledge for resolving the IRS audit issue plus helping taxpayers correctly report on their future tax returns in order to avoid audits.

Although unreported income is the main cause of IRS audits, poorly prepared or incomplete returns are also flagged for review. Anyone with an audit notice is therefore easily persuaded about the benefits of professional tax return preparation. Helping with tax audit notices is an ideal way to obtain introductions to individuals needing your tax expertise over the long run.

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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How Insurance Continuing Education Benefits the Agent, Insurance Company, and Client

How Insurance Continuing Education Benefits the Agent, Insurance Company, and Client

Education is one of the most sought after characteristics by almost every employer. They want their employees to be competent, skilled, and smart. Training can certainly help, but a formal education cannot be replaced. Professionals of all kind have to complete continuing education courses to keep their license active. They must renew their license through their state every 1-3 years depending on what industry they are in and what license(s) they hold. Insurance professionals are no different. Insurance agents are accountable for a lot of money and help a lot of individuals and families make very important decisions on a day-to-to basis. In this article we are going to discuss how insurance continuing education can benefit the agent, the insurance company they represent, and the clients they serve.

Continuing education helps the insurance agent because it solidifies their knowledge in the field. They know they have the most up to date information to share with their clients. Each year rules and regulations may change from state to state so continuing education is very important. The agent can be confident they are acting ethical and sharing all of the correct information with their prospective clients. Education also keeps their license active. If the insurance agent falls behind on their continuing education credits they could receive fines and have their license suspended.

Insurance companies are worth millions, sometimes billions of dollars. They need to make sure the agents that represent them are professional, ethical, and knowledgeable in the products they are selling. Education is one way to ensure they are doing exactly what they are supposed to. They learn the new laws to avoid insurance fraud and can sell their clients the best products possible to fit their needs. The more education their producers have the better off they will be. Many insurance companies even pay for their agent’s continuing education classes.

Finally, the client’s insurance agents serve benefit from insurance continuing education courses. The individuals and families purchasing a life insurance policy know their agent is up to date on the best products available for their individual needs. They can rest assure when they are making this very big decision. If the client does not purchase the correct policy their family/beneficiaries could suffer greatly.

As you can see the more education an insurance professional has the better off they will be. Education is meant to enhance the knowledge of the producer so they can be efficient, knowledgeable, and up to speed on the latest rules and regulations their state enforces.…