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Enrolled Agent Program Can Finally Address 2010 Estate Tax, Sort of

Enrolled Agent Program Can Finally Address 2010 Estate Tax, Sort of

Enrolled agents are aware from their EA continuing education that 2010 was a special year for estate taxes. The estate tax was repealed for persons who died in 2010. That action was anticipated as a consequence of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001. In contrast, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 reinstated the estate tax for persons who died in 2010.

The conflict of the two acts gives estate executors a choice regarding decedents who died in 2010. Advice these people need creates more enrolled agent work. But an EA must have current knowledge of estate tax matters. The recent legislation allows estates to opt out of the estate tax and elect treatment under the 2001 Act.

Recent IRS guidance reported that Form 8939 is used by estate executors to make the opt out election. However, Form 8939 is not yet available. The IRS expects to issue the form this fall. Enrolled agents should not wait for their first look at the form when completing their EA CPE requirements at year-end. Filing of Form 8939 must occur by November 15, 2011.

This alters the traditional approach enrolled agents have toward November, which is normally a slow tax period when online continuing education courses are leisurely completed. Although the general purpose of year-end CPE is obtaining updates about new tax law, this year renders an update to an old law. The IRS has just been a little slow in clarifying estate treatment for people who died in 2010.

The formal name of Form 8939 is Allocation of Increase in Basis for Property Acquired from a Decedent. As this appellation implies, the big consequence of filing the form is that opting out of estate tax incurs the imposition of basis carryover rules. That overrides the general rule learned from an enrolled agent program about property basis increasing to the fair market value upon the date of death – or a slightly alternative date after death if the estate executor chooses.

Tax practitioners with enrolled agent certification should spread the word now about Form 8939. Estates addressing 2010 decedents need to act soon if they want to avoid estate tax. Only the positive action of filing Form 8939 permits avoidance of estate tax. Failure to file the form causes repeal of the carryover provisions of the 2001 Act along with imposition of the new 2010 estate tax rules.

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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Changing Your Everyday Through Continuing Education

Changing Your Everyday Through Continuing Education

Some of us get busy. We finish high school and jump right into the job market. Some of us want to make money, while the rest of us need to, for whatever reason. Personal obligations, habits and comfort often get in the way of career progression. This unfortunate fact often leads to a very large majority of people never reaching their full potential despite the natural potential of their intellect and skill set.

Fortunately, many colleges understand that students come from very different backgrounds, and that these circumstances can lead to time constraints and multiple limitations. Today many colleges offer continuing education programs. Here are some of the domain options that are available to you:

– Business

– Creative and Visual Arts

– Engineering Technology

– Health Sciences

– Languages and Communications

– Math and Statistics

The best part about all of the potential careers that can flourish from these domains is that they can be learned at your own pace, and they are all accessible to the majority of students. Studying a particular field can do more than simply supply you with a better job or promotion – it can provide you with a sense of meaning and accomplishment. Supplemental education also makes you more appealing to employers. It shows that you are capable, and adds greatly to your current skill set.

Another option for those that suffer from demanding schedules is distance education, or online learning. While the educational fields of focus differ a little, long distance learning allows students to work from any location that has an Internet connection. It can also save students money (ex. travelling or childcare expenses), encourage learning (the intimidating classroom setting is eliminated) and provide students with the opportunity to learn at the rate that is best suited to the demands of their daily lives. But online learning does demand that students be organized – they are expected to make and respect their own schedules without the enforcement of an educator.

Regardless of where your past decisions have taken you, there is always a way to change the current course of your life. Carefully weigh your options. Do you see yourself working for the next 40 years at your current job? Do you look forward to going to work everyday? Are you excited at the prospect of moving forward in your current employment? If you answered no to any of these questions, it might be because you are capable of something more. Continuing education and online learning can provide you with the theory and practical knowledge you need to succeed in your field of choice, and can make your job something that you look forward to.…

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Applying Your EA Continuing Education to Taxpayers With Vacation Homes

Applying Your EA Continuing Education to Taxpayers With Vacation Homes

Passing the enrolled agent exam permits you to help taxpayers with a variety of tax issues. There’s no shortage of potential clients with common situations that involve complex tax reporting. For example, after obtaining the enrolled agent designation you can market yourself as a tax expert to the many individuals with vacation homes.

Handling the deduction of expenses for a vacation property is fairly simple if it’s a second home. The mortgage interest and real estate taxes are tax deductible just as with a primary residence. The trouble begins if the property is rented during part of the year. That affects how to handle the deductible expenses.

People with vacation homes that they occasionally rent need to know about the valuable knowledge you possess from your enrolled agent course studies. Rental of a property for less than two weeks during the year is ignored for federal income tax purposes. The rent received is not taxed. But there are also no tax deductions, except mortgage interest and real estate taxes just as if the property was never rented.

Rental of a property used by the owner and also rented for more than 14 days triggers some detailed tax accounting. This situation requires dividing the expenses into categories for the personal usage and rental usage periods. You can perform this exercise for taxpayers because it’s addressed in your EA continuing education.

The calculation applies the number of rental days as a percentage of the entire year to determine deductions associated with rental activity. This creates a rental tax deduction for a portion of some normally nondeductible household expenditures – such as utilities and repairs. Of course, these deductions reduce the tax impact of the rental income.

Expenses during the percentage of each year that the property is personally used are not deductible – except for ordinarily allowed deductions on second homes. This includes mortgage interest and real estate taxes and casualty losses.

Another case where your EA CPE is deployed in figuring out a complicated tax matter is when the vacation home owner occupies the property for more than 14 days or 10 percent of the days it is rented, whichever is greater. In such circumstances, you can’t permit the taxpayer to use the vacation home to create a loss for its second use as rental property. Expenses for the percentage of rental time are still deductible but only up to the amount of rental income. Excess rental period expenses are carried over to subsequent years.

There are fewer limitations on loss deductions for properties converted from personal use to rental activity during the year. In addition, these conversion events are when you want taxpayers to begin utilizing your enrolled agent expertise. When individuals start using vacation homes for rental purposes, they need professional tax advice. Make sure they can find you for this important service.

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 Economic Conditions Affect Educational Needs

How Economic Conditions Affect Educational Needs

About 10 years ago when the economy was booming all of the companies and employees were very happy. They were satisfied with their work conditions, salaries, and profit margins. The real estate industry was doing well, foreign trade was great, and there was a money surplus in the United States. It’s funny, when all of this was going on, no one was thinking about attending school or furthering their education. Why? Because everyone was making money! The economy and continuing education are actually counter-cyclical. This means when the economy is doing well not as many people are attending classes. It also means when the economy is not doing well more people are going back to school. In this article, we are going to talk about some of the reasons economic conditions affect enrollment numbers in colleges and Universities.

Think about when the economy was doing well and you had a stable job. Were you thinking about furthering your education? Probably not. Many individuals do not feel the pressure or need to go back to school when things are good. Their company is doing well, they are moving up in their department, and they have job security are just a couple of the reasons many individuals put school on the back-burner in excellent economic conditions. Remember when the real estate market was booming? Many of the real estate agents decided to get their license and sell real estate instead of going to college. They were making a ton of money and never thought they would need a degree. Now that the real estate market has tanked more and more agents are going back to school for their degree so they can find a job.

The same goes true for when the economy is in a slump. Many people are enrolling in school for a number of reasons. Whether they want to secure their job, find a job, or want a promotion in hard economic times the education industry actually prospers. More people are going back to school than ever before. Sometimes they even go back to school so they can receive financial aid and use the aid to pay their bills. When times get tough, individuals will do whatever they have to when trying to survive a tough market. If the unemployment rates continue to increase, you can expect more and more individuals to enroll in post-secondary education to complete their degree.…

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Taxes and Retirement – Keep More of Your Money

Taxes and Retirement – Keep More of Your Money

Taxes play a significant role in retirement plans as well as in the life of leisure these plans afford individuals when it comes time to retiring. This much is known to tax professions like IRS enrolled agents and CPAs, and any other registered tax agent, who advise taxpayers on the wealth management that make retirement possible. The subject of taxes and retirement is a popular one in tax CPE — the continuing education tax courses tax professionals are required to take to maintain their credentials — because of its centrality to the majority of taxpayers.

Come tax time most taxpayers will be confronted with one issue or another pertaining to retirement, whether they are presently working or have living it up as snowbird in Florida. Below is a list of some of the more common considerations that fall into this category.

Retirement Strategies

Take Credit for Saving –Retirement Savings Contributions Credit

Most enrolled agents and CPAs are hired by people looking for ways to save money on their axes? One such method might be qualifying for the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit – also known as the Saver’s Credit. Requirements include:

Meeting income and eligibility requirements

Contributing to a traditional or Roth IRA, a 401(k), 403(b), governmental 457, SARSEP or SIMPLE IRA plan

The credit is equal to 50 percent, 20 percent or 10 percent of a taxpayer’s contributions up to $2,000 ($4,000 if married filing jointly) depending on the adjusted gross income reported on the 2010 Form 1040 or 1040A.

Use IRAs to Save for Retirement

This tax season taxpayers have been given until April 18, 2011 to contribute to traditional and Roth IRAs for 2010.

Contribution Limits

For 2010 and 2011, taxpayers can contribute to a traditional or Roth IRA the smaller of:

$5,000 ($6,000 if age is 50 or older), or

taxable compensation for the year

Joining A Retirement Plan

There are innumerable advantages of participating in a retirement plan, and tax professionals should strongly communicate them to clients. For example, a taxpayer can:

decrease taxable income by making pre-tax salary deferred contributions if allowed by the plan; and

increase overall retirement savings

Participating in an Employer’s Retirement Plan

Tax professionals should strongly urge clients to enroll in their employees’ retirement plans as soon as they are able. The majority of retirement plans have quarterly or semi-annual entry dates

Review Retirement Plan Contributions

Tax professional should encourage clients to periodically review the amount that they are contributing to the plan. The maximum annual salary deferral contributions allowed for 2010 and for 2011 are as follows:

$16,500 to 401(k) or 403(b) plans

$11,500 to SIMPLE plans

For taxpayers who are 50 or older by the end of the year, retirement plans may allow them to make additional catch-up contributions. For 2010 and 2011, qualifying individual were able to make catch-up contributions of:

$5,500 to 401(k) or 403(b) plans

$2,500 to SIMPLE plans

Important Caveats to Consider

However, other factors may limit or eliminate a taxpayer’s ability to contribute to an IRA.

For example, if age 70 1/2 or older, a taxpayer cannot make regular contributions to a traditional IRA for the year. Modified adjusted gross income may also impact the amount one can contribute to IRAs. Additionally, for 2010 and 2011, if a taxpayer files a joint return and has compensation less than that of a spouse, the most that can be contributed yearly to an IRA for the is the smaller of:

$5,000 ($6,000 if age 50 or older), or taxpayer and taxpayer spouse’s total compensation included in the yearly gross income, reduced by the amount of the spouse’s contribution to traditional and Roth IRAs for the year

Deduction Limits

The amount of traditional IRA contributions that taxpayers can deduct depends on whether they or their spouses were covered for any part of the year by an employer retirement plan, their income, their tax filing status and on any social security benefits that they received.

Withdrawing money from your 401(k) plan?

A 401(k) is a long-term plan that helps people save money for retirement. Although it may be tempting or even unavoidable for someone to withdraw money from the plan before retirement, there are consequences. Most notably, tax consequences of an early distribution. Generally, taxpayers must pay income tax on most distributions from a 401(k) plan. However, they opt to take an early distribution, they may also have to pay an additional 10 percent tax unless they:

are over 591?

2 years of age,

or qualify for another exception to the additional10 percent tax

Many 401(k) plans do allow early withdrawal distributions without a penalty for certain events that cause taxpayers, their spouses or their dependents financial hardship. For example, some 401(k) plans may allow an early distribution to …

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Physical Therapy Continuing Education – ACL Reconstruction Surgery – Use of the Hamstring Graft

Physical Therapy Continuing Education – ACL Reconstruction Surgery – Use of the Hamstring Graft

Physical Therapists spend much time in Physical Therapy continuing education courses learning how to rehab patients after ACL surgeries, but rarely due we get taught about the surgery itself. We recently interviewed an orthopedic surgeon to ask him some questions about the use of the hamstring graft in ACL reconstruction surgery. Here are some of his answers.

PhysicalTherapyContinuingEducation: So to summarize on the use of hamstring graft in ACL surgery, the biggest advantage of the hamstring graft would you say, I think you alluded to earlier, that it is an easier rehab period with less pain. Are they the two major points, or are there other?

ACL Surgeon: I think the advantages are that it’s a very strong graft that has actually, bio-mechanically, when you double up the two strands of the hamstring and basically have a four strand graft it’s actually a stronger graft initially than the patella tendon. It actually now has stronger fixation. It is not quite as painful as taking the patella tendon and the rehab I think is initially a bit easier. I think with time that evens out. And the results now clinically are as good as patella tendon.

So, I think there are a lot of advantages. It is a smaller incision as well, so that may come into effect, particularly with those that are conscious of cosmesis. But, as we know, that’s not the most important factor, but to some that may be.

PhysicalTherapyContinuingEducation: Fantastic. Let’s talk a little bit more about the graft and the fixation. When we say we use the hamstring, what specifically do you use? And then on the fixation, you mentioned that there was some advancement in fixation. Could you just expand on that a little bit too?

ACL Surgeon: The grafts that we typically use for hamstring are the gracillis and the semitendinosus, and these are two long tendons that are attached to some of the hamstring muscles. If you really think about it, there are numerous hamstring muscles in the back part of the leg, so you still have many hamstring tendon muscles left, even after you take two.

So, these long tendons basically are such length that you can double them over and still have adequate length to reconstruct the ACL. So, we double them over and then the size of that can fit through a round tube anywhere from six-and-a-half millimeters all the way to eight millimeters in diameter, and really it actually provides more surface area and bulk a graft than say a typical ACL graft, which is a different type of graft. Actually, I’m sorry, I should say an ACL patella tendon graft, which is more of a – it doesn’t quite fill up the diameter of a tube. It’s more of a flatter graft, although it’s quite strong. So, the tendons that we use are those.

The fixation, there’s a lot of ways of fixating a hamstring graft. There’s basically a point fixation that you can use with screws. You can use pins that go across the bone, and these will go through these or wrapped around these. There are also what we call suspension type fixation, where the graft is looped around a very heavy duty type rope suture and then there’s an implant that goes around the end of the bone, and these are implanted around this and are terrifically strong fixation, and then fixed on the other end with either a combination of a screw, a washer, or some type of implant into the tibia. So, the fixation has really developed along the years and now is very strong. In fact, is stronger than that of the patella tendon.…

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Invest in Yourself With Continuing Education

Invest in Yourself With Continuing Education

In today’s ever changing economic times it is more important than ever to you to continue on the path of continuing education. It is only by bettering oneself do you truly protect yourself from being the next casualty of this ever growing recession.

You need to start looking at continuing education as an investment into your self. It is interesting that people completely understand the importance of changing oil in the car in order to keep the car running at peak performance. These same individuals also realize the importance of maintaining their household so it will appreciate in value. Yet, most of these same individuals have not invested a single dime into furthering their own education.

Imagine you graduated from either high school or college 10 years ago and have taken no courses since then. This would be the same as not changing oil in your car for the last 10 years. No one in their right mind would find it acceptable to go 10 years without an oil change and expect their vehicle to perform at peak levels. Why would you expect your place of employment to be any different? When they are forced to make difficult cuts in difficult times, they are going to keep those individuals who have invested in themselves.

With so many choices available today there is no real excuse for you not to continue your education in some way. Continuing education does not have to be a complete curriculum like obtaining your law or nursing degree. Continuing education can be as simple as one class online or a local community college.

To determine the best path for you, you first need to determine in what area you want to continue your education. You need to start with the question – do I enjoy my field of work and do I want to continue in this field? If the answer is yes then look around at those who are either higher in pay or higher on the organization chart. Determine what skills they have that you do not. Do they have management experience and you do not? Management courses are very easy to find online. Do they understand the department budget better than you do? If so, all junior colleges offer many options for non-accountants to better understand accounting.

If you have determined that you do not want to spend the rest of your career in your chosen field then determine what truly inspires you that you would enjoy doing for the rest of your working life. Then take one class in that field. Do not make the mistake many do and dive in over your head and take a complete course load in that field. By taking one class online or at a local junior college you will keep your investment low and be able to determine of this new field of endeavor is as satisfying as you had envisioned.

The next time your place of employment has to make cuts this continuing education path will be noticed and they should recognize what a key asset you are. If not and they make the mistake of letting you go, you should have no problem finding a quality organization to work for that will recognize the investment you have made in yourself.…