Should I wait and take the tax course next year after all the new tax law changes have been applied?
If you’re interested in becoming a tax preparer, there is no time like the present! There is no reason to delay your education, career, and earning potential!
- The vast majority of the material taught this year, WILL STILL BE RELEVANT next year, and only a few items will change with the new tax law NEXT year.
While the recent tax law changes will have a significant impact on many taxpayers, these changes are a very small percentage of the material and scope of the tax course, and what you will need to understand in preparing a tax return. The vast majority of the forms, schedules, and subjects will still be relevant next year. Rules for filing status, income types, interest, dividends, EIC, credits, adjustments to income, retirement income, Schedule C, Schedule D, Schedule E and so forth, will still be the same.
Even though the changes of eliminating the exemption deduction, doubling the standard deduction, eliminating 2% misc. deductions, and lowering the tax rates will have a big impact on tax returns, it’s a very small part of the overall scope of the tax course and what a tax preparer needs to know.
- You will need to know both the 2017 tax laws as well as the 2018 changes in the tax laws.
It will be imperative that tax preparers know the tax law from this year (2017) and also next year (2018) to accurately prepare state tax returns next year. Currently, many states aren’t planning to conform to the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act (TCJA), which means tax preparers will need the pre-2018 (TCJA) knowledge to prepare state tax returns. Also, clients sometimes need to have prior years’ tax returns amended and you must know the prior years’ tax laws to prepare amended tax returns.
Remember, when we say 2017 tax law, we’re talking about this year – the 2018 tax season. And when we say 2018 tax law, we’re talking about next year – the 2019 tax season.
To sum up, it’s in your best interest to take the tax course this year if you want to become a tax preparer.
How does The Income Tax School compare to other tax schools?
We cannot comment on the courses offered by other tax schools. However, we can tell you how our courses differ from many of our competitors. The Income Tax School (ITS) curriculum developers and instructors are all experienced and practicing tax professionals, which ensures that our courses provide practical knowledge that can be applied by graduates in their tax practices. ITS is certified by the State Council of Education for Virginia (SCHEV) as a private career school and has been operating for almost 30 years (since 1989). Our founder and CEO has been a tax industry executive for more than 40 years and has managed hundreds of tax preparation offices employing thousands of tax preparers in several states. Our course content goes through rigorous editing processes and is high quality. In fact, ITS is ranked by TrendLists as the #1 site for online tax education.
Where can I find information about the IRS Exam and where I can take the test?
Regarding the IRS Exam, you can find information and a link to the IRS website pages at the link below.
When can I start the course?
Our income tax courses are all open enrollment. You can register and start the course as soon as you receive your login information and are ready. User logins are issued within 24 business hours.
What does interactive mean?
Interactive courses include instructor support by email and automatic instructional feedback. All assignments and exams are graded instantly.
What does online mean and how will I know how I am doing?
Online means via the Internet. With the online courses, students receive instant feedback on the accuracy of each homework assignment, quiz, and exam. Students must successfully pass each chapter (70% is passing) before they can move on to the next one. An average of 80% or better is required for the Chartered Tax Professional certificate program. When students have a question or comment, they have a direct link to send an e-mail to our instructor support. Instructors will respond within two business days – maximum.
How much time do I have to complete a tax course? Is there a time frame that I need to finish each chapter or assignment?
All of our online tax courses are completely at your own pace. The term for courses over 45 hours is 6 months from date of registration. The term for courses from 31 – 45 hours is 4 months from date of registration. The term for courses up to 30 hours is 3 months from date of registration. The term for CE seminars of 6 hours or less is 1 month from the date of registration. The term for California CE courses is 3 months from the date of registration. For more than two 3-hour courses/seminars and up to five purchased at one time, we allow 3 months for completion from the date of registration. For six to ten 3-hour courses/seminars purchased at one time, we allow 4 months for completion from the date of registration. Students who do not finish the course within the allotted time frame may extend their term for a nominal reinstatement fee.
How long will it take to complete a tax course?
You are able to set your own pace. We recommend that you complete at least one lesson per week, which would require ten weeks for each 10-lesson course. However, you could complete two lessons per week while also working full-time and finish each course in just 5 weeks. For our very popular 20-lesson Comprehensive Course, we recommend 2 lessons per week, so you may finish in 10 weeks. If your other commitments are less, you could finish even sooner.
How much time should I allow for each online lesson?
The time spent on each chapter will vary however; you should expect to spend 5-6 hours per chapter to read the chapter and the reading assignment, to complete lesson problems, and to complete homework assignments.
How many chapters should I complete a week?
With any course you take, we recommend that you complete 2 chapters per week; however, the course may be accelerated or more time can be taken if needed. You should try to complete at least one lesson per week.
What if I need to exceed the time frame allowed to complete the course?
Do I have to buy additional materials?
All tax course text material and required reference material is available online with access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Hard copies of the text books are available for an additional fee. These materials (which include all necessary tax forms on CD for homework, quizzes, etc.) provide students the option to read offline.
Hard copies save the students money and time by not having to print the text. In addition, the textbook serves as a reference manual for future use when preparing tax returns. Any hard copy tax course materials will ship within 1 business day of your registration via UPS Ground. Alternative and international shipping methods are available for a fee. You must provide a physical street address, no P.O. Boxes.
What do I need to have in order to take an online course, and what are the system requirements?
In order to take our online courses, you must have access to a computer and the Internet (high speed internet access is recommended). You can access the course contents from any web-enabled computer. You do not have to use the same computer to log-in to the course every time.
The course works with Windows, MAC and Linux operating systems. We recommend that you have the latest version of Firefox. Adobe Reader is required to view the online material from our tax school.
Who will be my instructor?
Each student has access to instructors for one-on-one interaction. Instructors are available (via email or phone by appointment) to answer any course questions you may have and to provide feedback on your performance. All of our instructors are successful working professionals in the topics they teach.
What is the actual response time to have questions answered by the instructor with the courses?
Our instructors respond to students on a first-come first-served basis and make every effort to respond within 24 hours. Two business days is the maximum response time.
I just registered and got my user login. I am excited to get started but was wondering if you recommend I wait for my book?
You can wait if you want to; however, everything you need is available online. The book is a great tool to have while taking the course so you don’t have to print everything out. It is also a great reference after you finish the course. Feel free to start your course now and just download anything you need until your book comes. It should only be a few days.
How can I be assured that no one will have access to my course information online?
Each Student is issued a unique username and password that is required to enter the secure area of the website where their student’s data is entered and stored.
Will I be able to complete an online assignment more than once?
You will be allowed 2 attempts for chapter quizzes/tests and 1 attempt for final exams. You must successfully complete each section (70% is passing) before you are able to move on to the next one. An average of 80% or better is required to receive the Chartered Tax Professional designation.
What happens if I am unable to complete my online assignment in one sitting?
If you are in the middle of a graded assignment, you can simply save your place and sign off (just be sure NOT to click “submit all and finish”). When you sign back in you will be able to click “Continue the Last Attempt” and you will be able to continue your graded assignment from exactly where you left off. To make things easier for our students, we recommend downloading the assignment and completing it offline. Then all a student has to do is input the correct answers online. This is particularly helpful for students with a dial-up connection.
How will I be notified if there is a correction for my online course?
Corrections to your student text will be posted in the Updates & Corrections forum in each course, at the beginning of each chapter.
What happens when I complete the course?
Upon successful completion of the course, you will be awarded a certificate of completion from The Income Tax School. You must obtain a final passing grade of 70% or greater to be awarded a certificate. An average of 80% or better is required for the Chartered Tax Professional certificate program.
Once I complete the course how will I receive my certificate?
Once you complete your course, please click on the link within your course to request a certificate. Your certificate request will be processed and you will receive the certificate automatically via email. If you are in the CTP® program, your Chartered certificate will be issued after you have completed all courses with an average grade of 80% or more and have documented the 500 hours experience requirement to qualify for the CTP® designation.
Do you report my Continuing Education credits to the IRS?
Yes, The Income Tax School is required to report CE completions for the first 3 quarters of the calendar year once per quarter.
- CE courses completed January 1- March 30- reported March 31
- CE courses completed April 1- June 29- reported June 30
- CE courses completed July 1- September 29- reported September 30
- Beginning October 1st, The Income Tax School reports CE completion every 10 days through the end of the calendar year.
CTEC requires reporting every 10 days throughout the calendar year for both Continuing Education and Qualifying education. For Continuing Education, The Income Tax School reports daily (during business hours) in October, until October 31 at 11:59 PST.
I heard the IRS is now offering a voluntary Annual Filing Season Program for tax return preparers. What does that mean for people new to the industry and those already in the industry?
New regulations require all paid tax return preparers to obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). The cost to obtain your PTIN is $50. In addition to this, the IRS now offers an Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP), which is a voluntary IRS tax training program for return preparers. It aims to recognize the efforts of non-credentialed return preparers who aspire to a higher level of professionalism.
Please note: The AFTR course, which is part of the AFSP program, is a short federal tax refresher course for experienced tax preparers and will not enable a person who is not an experienced tax preparer to learn how to prepare income tax returns. If you are interested in becoming a tax preparer, you should consider the Comprehensive Tax Course.
Do the 3-hour seminars have a quiz or test at the end?
Our 3-hour seminars have 15 questions and a learning activity that need to be completed. The learning activity usually has questions that follow. The questions are related to the forms or exercises completed in the learning activity.
Is The Income Tax School an eligible education institution that can issue college credit for the Lifetime Learning Credit under Internal Revenue Code?
The Income Tax School is not an eligible educational institution as defined by the IRS. Our students are not eligible for education credits.
Does The Income Tax School provide courses in state income tax preparation?
The following nine U.S. states currently don’t have an income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. Residents of New Hampshire and Tennessee do pay tax on dividends and income from investments.
We do not offer state income tax courses except for California and Oregon. For other states with an income tax, we recommend that the students download or print a set of state instruction and applicable publications for use in following along with the federal chapter subject matter. The student should prepare state income tax returns for completed federal tax return Learning Activities in our course using the instructions provided by their state department of taxation. The following is a link to a list of websites of State Tax Agencies: http://www.taxadmin.org/state-tax-agencies
Most tax preparation software applications automatically prepare the state, usually starting with the Federal Adjusted Gross Income. To prepare accurate state returns, students will need to be able to identity the differences in Federal and state tax law for any state return, for which they are required to file. The students will need to understand how to make adjustments, subtraction and additions for the differences for the state from the Federal (e.g., income additions and subtractions, differences in exemptions, deductions, credits, proration for part-year residency, etc.).
After taking a course or seminar from the Income Tax School, may I contact the school for assistance with tax returns, which I’m preparing based on the courses/seminars I studied?
Unfortunately, for reasons of legal liability, we cannot assist students or graduates with the preparation of tax returns or tax forms that are not specific course assignments included in our curriculum. You may want to enlist the help of a tax professional organization, that offers tax preparation research assistance to members.
Do you provide the answer keys to study questions and learning activities?
Per IRS and NASBA guidelines, we are unable to provide Answer Keys to the these items. However, if you have a particular question(s), for which you need clarification or have an incorrect answer, we can provide the answer(s). We would not provide the answer(s) until you have moved on to the next assignment and you would not be allowed to go back and change your answers. Please note, we will not provide answers to any quiz or exam questions at any time.
What is the difference between an Enrolled Agent (EA) Exam Review and the Chartered Tax Professional (CTP) Certificate Program?
An Enrolled Agent Exam Review is merely a program to prepare someone who already has extensive individual and small business tax preparation knowledge to take the EA exam (Special Enrollment Exam (SEE)). However, an EA Review is not an education program to teach tax preparation. Our Chartered Tax Professional (CTP) certificate program includes the Comprehensive and Small Business-I plus three advanced courses (5 courses total). The CTP program (link below) covers most topics on the EA exam. After you complete the CTP program, you should only need to take an EA review class and then you could sit for the EA exam (SEE). There is also a 500 hour experience requirement that must be completed before you can receive your CTP certificate. This is easily obtained working part-time over two tax seasons.
Can I start out by purchasing the Chartered Tax Advisor then work my way up to the Chartered Tax Professional, or do I have to purchase the entire Chartered Tax Professional at one time?
Yes! You can start out with either of the first two Chartered Tax Certificate Programs. You can even start out with just the first course (Comprehensive Tax Course) and upgrade later. If you are currently enrolled in or have completed an ITS course or certificate program and your term has not ended, your current fees may be credited toward a higher level certificate program. You only need to pay the difference of the two programs. There is no additional upgrade fee. If you’ve already completed an ITS course or certificate program with us and your term has ended not more than 9 months ago, you may still upgrade by paying the difference of the two programs, plus a nominal re-enrollment fee of $25 to cover processing. If you’ve already completed an ITS course or certificate program with us, and it is past 9 months but not more than 18 months since the end of your term, you may still upgrade by paying the difference of the two programs, plus a nominal re-enrollment fee of $50 to cover processing. Call us at (800) 984-1040 to upgrade today!
Can I complete more than 2 lessons per week or does the system limit how many lessons I can do in a week?
You can absolutely complete more than 2 lessons per week. You can set any pace you like. The 2 lessons per week is a suggestion so that you can complete your course in a timely manner and within the allotted term for your course. And if you need more time, we do offer an extension for our 30-60 hour courses.