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Mental Health, Continuing Education, and the X-Men

Mental Health, Continuing Education, and the X-Men

Professor Xavier is the professor and head of the Xavier Institute, a home and training center for many of the X-Men that were once runaways or abandoned by their families. As he is an expert in mental health, continuing education standards of these runaways while helping them harness and control their mutant powers in an ethical way was the reason for establish the Xavier Institute. As a result, veteran X-Men have been supervised and trained at the facility, going on to battle villains and make the world a place in which mutants and humans can coexist. Some of these included Cyclops, Jean Grey, Rogue, Storm, Jubilee, Gambit, Beast, and Wolverine.

With extremely powerful telepath that can read minds, control others, and influence decisions by other people; as a long time scientist, he is also an expert in mental health. Continuing education standards in the Institute was his top priority, often staying behind while younger trainees were sent out to battle Magneto and other Sentinel robots. A large part of this reason is that professor X is a paraplegic, bound to a hovering “wheelchair”. In the films, Professor X is portrayed by Patrick Stewart, which has an uncannily similar look to Professor X’s original drawing that stayed consistent throughout the years.

As proponent of the development of mental health, continuing education for his mutant students was a large concern for the good professor. Often compared with Dr. Martin Luther King in personality and philosophy, Professor X attempted many different methods to find the underclass of mutants and offer his assistance in any way possible. While many turned him down for a life of crime or even to join up with Magneto, Professor X constantly used a telepathic device called Cerebro which allowed him to find the location of strays, dropouts, and undisciplined mutant youth around the world. After locating them, teams of X-Men would often approach them, offering a safe home for education and training at the Xavier Institute.

Beast, a professor and long-time friend of Professor X, often taught educational courses to new recruits at the Xavier Institute. Aside from this, Beast was also tasked by the professor to develop various technologies that would help young students harness and protect themselves from their often-unruly mutant powers that could cause harm to themselves or others. A good example of this was the development of a shielded gauntlet he invented for Surge, a young mutant who could not initially control large electronic blasts that she absorbed from various sources.

The Xavier Institute is extremely important to the X-Men series. Scenes often take place within the institute, either in the classrooms or training center, and were even featured as a setting in many of the films. Absolutely essential to the much of the settings of the X-Men Universe since the 1960s, the world of the X-Men we all love could never have been fully understood without the foundation of the Xavier Institute.…

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Continuing Education Requirements for Structural Engineers in Illinois

Continuing Education Requirements for Structural Engineers in Illinois

Illinois requires continuing education to help safeguard life, health, and property, and to promote public welfare. To demonstrate continuing professional competency, the licensed engineer must earn 30 Professional Development Hours (PDH) per renewal period, which is two years in the state of Illinois.

Continuing professional activities which satisfy the professional development requirements are as follows (provided these activities are relevant to the practice of structural engineering): university sponsored courses, self administered courses (such as videotaped courses, or correspondence courses), seminars, in-house programs, teaching, authoring published papers, receiving US patents, and active participation on a committee or holding office in a professional or technical society.

The board does not pre-approve any Continuing Professional Competency activities. It is the responsibility of each licensee to determine if the claimed PDH meets these requirements.

The above listed activities are limited as follows. The licensee can claim a maximum of 2 PDH’s per committee membership or office held in a professional society up to a maximum of 10 PDH’s per renewal period. A maximum of 10 PDH’s per renewal period may be earned from completion of self-administered courses, provided each self-administered course includes an exam graded by the sponsor. A maximum of 10 PDH’s per renewal period may be claimed for in-house courses.

This is slightly different than the continuing education requirements for professional engineers in Illinois, as professional engineers aren’t limited to 10 PDH’s in the in-house and self administered course categories. Professional engineers are limited to a maximum of 8 PDH’s for participation in technical societies.

Continuing Professional Competency activities must meet general criteria to be deemed acceptable by the board in the event of an audit. The activity must contribute to the advancement, extension or enhancement of the professional skills and/or scientific knowledge of the licensee in practice of structural engineering. It must foster the enhancement of general or specialized practice and values of structural engineering, related sciences and engineering ethics. Finally, it must be developed and presented by persons with education and/or experience in the subject matter of the program.

Illinois allows licensees exemptions from the continuing education requirements under four specific circumstances. First, A non-career military licensee serving on active duty during a substantial part of the renewal period is exempt. Second, A licensee who has experienced serious illness or injury of a nature and duration which has prohibited completing the continuing professional competency requirements verified by a letter from a physician to the board is exempt. Third, A licensee with a physical inability to travel to the sites of approved programs documented by a currently licensed physician is exempt. Finally, Any other similar extenuating circumstance my be grounds for exemption. The board must be notified that the licensee plans to claim an exemption prior to license renewal.

The statutes provided by Illinois concerning continuing education requirements for structural engineers are confusing, but follow these three simple rules and you’ll pass an audit with flying colors. First, keep careful documentation of all of the activities you complete, and maintain your records for a minimum of four years. Second, do not claim more than 10 hours of in-house training, 10 hours of self administered courses, or 10 hours of technical society involvement in any given renewal period. Third, take advantage of continuing education. No matter which way you look at it, you have to complete 30 hours every two years. I’d recommend taking quality seminars provided by AISC, SEAOI, ACI, or any other reputable society to ensure you’re on top of the latest developments and trends in structural engineering.…

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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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Tax Considerations for Small Businesses: To Barter or Not to Barter

Tax Considerations for Small Businesses: To Barter or Not to Barter

Barters and trades of goods and services represent an increasingly significant percentage of our economy, especially among small businesses, many of which have turns to one of the oldest forms of commerce in hopes of weathering the recession. One obvious reason is that bartering allows an individual to exchange goods or services for something you that they need, but can’t pay for. But it also allows them to get rid of extra inventory or take advantage of “down time” in exchange for reducing their cash outlay for business expenses. In this economy, bartering is a smart move.

However, as the IRS has warned recently, bartering is still considered business and is therefore taxable activity:

“The fair market value of property or services received through barter is taxable income. Bartering is the trading of one product or service for another. Usually there is no exchange of cash. However, the fair market value of the goods and services exchanged must be reported as income by both parties.”

This rule covers a variety of “transactions” that many, including savvy business owners, might not think twice about: the local barber trading a haircut for a free meal at a friend’s mom and pop restaurant; an artist offering up a painting in exchange for a month’s worth of dog walking? Again, this exchange is considered generated reportable income – for both parties in the barter transaction.

In an effort to help those who fall into this category, the IRS has highlighted the following four facts about bartering that small business owners understand come tax time:

Barter Exchange

According to the IRS, a barter exchange functions primarily as “the organizer of a marketplace where members buy and sell products and services among themselves.” Applying equally to products produced and sold from a physical space or through the Web, this exchange is bound to the rules governing Form 1099-B, Proceeds from Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions, meaning it must be submitted annually to a barter’s clients or members as well as to the IRS.

Barter Income

In an effort to eliminate any confusion over what is meant by barter income for tax purposes, the IRS has stated, “barter dollars or trade dollars are identical to real dollars for tax reporting.” In other words, the income from this activity should be recorded in the same manner as other forms of income — on the appropriate tax return for the barter’s particular type of business. Generally, this number should correlate to the fair market value of the product or service. A good rule of thumb: It’s the price that a “willing buyer” would pay for the goods or services from a “willing seller.” In other words, what would the cost of that piece of art be on the open market? How much would you normally charge to do cut someone’s hair? Those answers determine the fair market value of the transaction.

Taxes

Another given is that the bartering income is taxable in the year that it was actually performed. The IRS is also careful to point out that bartering may yield certain liabilities for income tax, self-employment tax, employment tax, or excise tax. A small business that barters barter may incur ordinary business income, capital gains or capital losses, or you may have a nondeductible personal loss.

Reporting

The reporting requirements for transactions that fall within the category of bartering can hinge on what kind of bartering activity has taken place. Generally, this type of business income on Form 1040, Schedule C Profit or Loss from Business, or other business returns such as Form 1065 for Partnerships, Form 1120 for Corporations, or Form 1120-S for Small Corporations.

Record Keeping

The bottom line is that, whether or not tangible money changes hands, a small businesses that barter must treat this activity as they would any other business transaction. That means they must also maintain good records of all bartering transaction — both what is bartered away and what is received.

When to Consult a Tax Professional

Businesses that regularly barter should consider consulting a CPA, IRS enrolled agent or other registered tax agent to learn more about the tax requirements, especially when they are uncertain about reporting requirements or how to best value their services. CPAs and enrolled agents can often help small businesses barter in ways that are beneficial from a taxation point of view, and that are also likely to help them avoid audits from the IRS. Because of their increasing popularity, topics such bartering are routinely covered in tax continuing education courses that tax professional are required to take on an ongoing basis. These tax CPE courses are designed to give tax professionals the latest information on how to best to help taxpayers barter in accordance …

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Insurance Continuing Education Classes – Online VS Classroom

Insurance Continuing Education Classes – Online VS Classroom

Education is very important in any industry. Every professional should keep up to date on the newest laws, rules, and regulations in which they must abide by. Things are no different for insurance and financial professionals. No matter what type of license one holds; life, health and/or property and casualty; every state has different continuing education requirements. We are going to discuss your different options when completing your insurance continuing education classes and show you what to look for in a school.

Insurance Education Classes are offered either in a classroom or completely online. Many insurance agents choose to do their insurance education online to save time and money. Agents do not have to sit in a classroom for 24 hours; instead they will read a book and fill out a simple multiple choice exam. Some exams are open book while others are monitored. The only benefit from completing your continuing education requirements in a classroom is there are no multiple choice exams to complete. The insurance agent receives their certificate as soon as the class is over. You just have to sit and listen to an instructor and sign an affidavit stating that you were present. To find a class near you, you can contact your state’s department of insurance. They will be able to send you a list of classroom courses being offered in your area.

To complete your insurance continuing education credits online you can contact an approved insurance continuing education company and speak to a live representative regarding your state’s requirements and the online continuing education courses available. The representative should be able to find out what licenses you hold, what classes you need to take and how many credit hours you need to complete. Every compliance date is different so make sure you know when all of your education is due. If you fail to meet your state’s requirements by the compliance deadline there is often a fine and sometimes the state will even suspend your insurance license. So make sure to be aware of your compliance date!

When deciding which avenue to pursue we recommend considering many factors including time, money, convenience and value. You want to get the most out of all of these factors. You also want to consider what you have going on in your life and how your schedule looks. One way or the other you want to make sure you complete all of your continuing education by the deadline every 1-2 years.…

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Mental Health Continuing Education – Is Distance Learning Right For You?

Mental Health Continuing Education – Is Distance Learning Right For You?

For many people who choose mental health continuing education, distance learning is an attractive option. You’re not 18 anymore, and now you’ve got an entire LIFE to coordinate. These programs are tailored to people who work, have families and are otherwise engaged in everyday things. However, it’s not for everybody. First, let’s look at the advantages of distance learning for mental health continuing education; then, we’ll consider some of the disadvantages.

You Can Study When And Where You Want. These courses allow you to log in at any time and do your coursework. This is really convenient for those of us with busy schedules. You can also study anywhere, which means that you don’t have to spend time traveling to and from school. It’s just a matter of turning on your computer wherever you are.

Save Money As Well As Time. You may also find yourself spending less money with distance learning. You can get your mental health continuing education coursework done without having to spend the money on traveling, attending seminars, eating lunch on campus and other things.

Focus Your Time To Use It More Effectively. In a normal classroom setting, you have to sit through the lecture, even if you’ve already covered it. With distance learning, you move at your own pace, which means that you can skip over things that you’ve already studied or that don’t pertain to you.

These are the reasons so many people choose distance learning for their mental health continuing education course, but you should be aware that there are some downsides too:

The Technology Can Be Tricky. To make your lectures, discussions and tests, you’ve got to have a computer that’s capable of running all the necessary programs. You also need a certain speed and memory capability. Sometimes, upgrading or getting the necessary software presents challenges you weren’t expecting, as well as added costs.

Planning And Time Management. For some people, distance learning isn’t such a good idea. It takes a certain kind of discipline to make all of your assignments and take care of all the little things, especially if you’ve also got a job to think about. You have to be good at planning and time management, and even though you don’t have to show up for tests, the deadlines are serious. There are also lots of other little things to remember, like posting to discussion threads.

Teach Yourself. Distance learning is a little bit like teaching yourself. If you’re doing a mental health continuing education course through distance learning, you’ve got to be a self-starter.

No Direct Access. Another disadvantage is that you don’t get to actually meet your instructors or classmates. This can be a big turn-off for students who need that face-to-face contact.

You can get your mental health continuing education certification in a real classroom or through distance learning. Consider the pros and cons of each before you make a decision. You might want to talk with someone who has done a distance learning course for further advice.…

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Why Filing Taxes for Your Client, Even When They Aren’t Required, Might Be a Good Thing!

Why Filing Taxes for Your Client, Even When They Aren’t Required, Might Be a Good Thing!

Most all tax preparers understand how income levels and filing requirements are contingent upon filing status, age and the type of income clients receive. What is often overlooked, however, even when clients aren’t required to file with Uncle Sam, is the fact that it may actually benefit them to do so.

Not surprisingly, the IRS provides definitive instructions on the requirements for filing Forms 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ. With all of the new credit tax revisions and exceptions, some tax preparers are turning to Tax CPE Course materials or EA CPE curriculum to brush up on how these new revisions stand to benefit clients. Some continuing education tax courses are even focused exclusively on these new tax laws, showing tax preparers how to clients who fit into this scenario to get the greatest bang out of their tax returns.

Quick Tips on Non-Required Filing Benefits

Homebuyer Credit

First time homebuyers are eligible for a maximum $8000 or $4000 if filing married status separately. To qualify, a person must have entered into a contract on or before April 30th 2010 and have closed by September 30th 2010.

Tax Withheld

For taxpayers who have estimated their tax payments, had a previous years overpayment, or had income tax withheld, they may be eligible for a refund.

Child Tax Credit

If a taxpayer has at least one child that qualifies and they didn’t receive the full amount of the current Child Tax Credit originally, they could get a refundable credit.

American Opportunity Credit

Given the newly renamed and expanded Hope credit, taxpayers can claim this credit for tuition and certain fees for undergraduate and post-secondary education. The maximum credit per student is $2,500.

Earned Income Tax Credit

For those individuals who worked but earned little in 2010, this tax credit may prove useful in considering to file because it may qualify them for a refund.

Health Coverage Tax Credit

This credit is primarily for individuals who have received Adjustment Assistance (either Trade or Reemployment Trade). Further, those receiving PBGC pension payments may also qualify and receive a credit.

Quick Tips of Non-Required Filing for Losses

Two Scenarios

When taxpayers have suffered an overall loss because of an investment losses:

Only if filed in 2010 can they carry that loss forward and offset taxable capital gains in future years

They can carry these losses as far back as 2008 and possibly request a refund of carry forward, but, again, only if they filed in 2010.

When taxpayers have business losses that experienced a net operating loss (NOL) for 2010:

There are a plethora of resources available that cover these details and the types of taxpayers that fall into this unique category. The key for enrolled agents, certified public accounts and other tax professionals is to do the research, sign up for an enrolled agent class or look on the tax CPE sites that showcase this information.

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.…