I finished the comprehensive course and based on my first post it took me about 14 weeks. As is the case for all of us, sometimes life got in the way, but overall I feel like I kept a decent pace and most weeks was able to finish 2 chapters. When life wasn’t in the way, sometimes my own stubbornness slowed me down. I generally like to figure things out by myself and there were a few points where I hit a wall and wasted too much time trying to get through it on my own instead of asking for help. When I did ask for help, which I did via e-mail pretty late in the evening once, I had a response the next afternoon with a well thought out explanation. Instead of just giving me the answer, the instructor confirmed where I was right and helped to clarify the places where things went wrong. Actually, the thoroughness of the instructor’s response makes me regret not asking more questions since I probably could have had even more clarity on some of the more complex topics. Thankfully, I am currently working on the Advanced I Tax Course and I imagine that this will be a better place to ask some of the more in depth questions I’ve had anyway.
Overall, I am quite happy with the way this course is designed. It feels like I had to prepare about a million returns by hand, but all the hands on experience was invaluable. I actually surprised myself when, on the final learning activity, I grabbed all the correct forms, knew exactly where everything needed to be reported, and in what order I needed to complete everything without checking the textbook. I was even able to catch some of the trickier parts of the return on the first glance which I was really happy with. It definitely makes me feel confident that when I get to actual tax return preparation, I will be confident in how to prepare returns and will know where to look for anything I’m unsure about.
The only issues I had with the program were some of the updates and corrections. I ran into a chapter where an issue had been pointed out but not yet corrected. I should add that the time between it being pointed out and me getting to the problem was about 12 days, so not too long at that point. However, it made doing the learning activity a bit difficult as the only way to get the answer outlined in the solutions was to put in a number that, based on the problem presented in the course, was not correct. In general, the Comprehensive Course is well maintained and receives regular updates and corrections. When dealing with this many forms, problems, and solutions there are bound to be mistakes here and there and I feel like they generally did not distract from the course. Also, the availability of the instructors makes this less of an issue as clarity can easily be had by contacting them.
I would definitely recommend this course to anyone interested in learning to prepare simple tax returns. You will gain hands on experience with a lot of forms and schedules and will have access to experienced instructors that can not only answer your questions but can also clarify topics based on your personal needs. Like most self study courses, you will get out of it what you put into it. If you’re unwilling to spend time reviewing solutions, doing the recommended reading assignments, and filling out the forms by hand then it won’t be as beneficial to you as it could be. I think it’s worth it to slow down and make sure that you understand everything before moving on. I will be using the same study methods I used for this course for the next course and am looking forward to sharing my experience with you all.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!