No Picture
General Article

Lean Certification Is an Integrated Approach to Cutting Costs While Growing a Business

Lean Certification Is an Integrated Approach to Cutting Costs While Growing a Business

The principles of lean certification affect all departments inside a business. Lean certification differs from Six Sigma certification in that the latter tends to focus on design and implementation within the technical departments of a business. While this is effective, lean training takes the employee to all parts of the company, and looks for ways to transform everything from purchasing, to finance, to accounting, and management.

An example of how this type of planning affects all departments equally is in the structure of cellular design. In manufacturing, grouping one portion of the production line into an identifiable block of machines and personnel is a typical design for a module. In a business department, taking an identifiable group of employees and charging them with a specific task is a way of creating a cell in that department. Creating cells in all departments makes operational tasks happen quicker, and allows for growth and movement within the company to take place in a more efficient manner.

Another important tenant in the lean manufacturing program is scheduling.

Scheduling covers everything from measuring customer demand, to planning unit production output, to order parts at the correct pace. Putting lean techniques in each department with respect to scheduling is an important goal. On the production line, lean scheduling means that each cell is responsible to gauge its demands by having input from other modules in the production line constantly feeding them data. They can also have direct input from marketing so they are aware of the demand taking place outside the walls of their plant, as well.

In the business department, using lean techniques to plan their scheduling also means that they need direct input from many sources concerning demand. After they are correctly arranged in a modular format, each cell is charged with locating sources of data and feedback on demand, output, and quality of items that their cell has responsibility to fulfill. In this manner, the communication path is short and response time is quick. They are also able to arrange for their own feedback so they can make adjustments within their own cell to increase their efficiency.

Using the same tools throughout an organization, a lean certified group is able to transform a company completely and make it able to grow and still keep costs under control. Often when a company is expanding in the production area, efficiencies that result in other departments can be directly tied to the growth in production. Upper management is then able to realize the full worth of the lean techniques, by seeing one area cut costs in response to growth in another part of their business.…

No Picture
General Article

Standard Vs Itemized Deductions: Picking a Side

Standard Vs Itemized Deductions: Picking a Side

As enrolled agents and CPAs well know, as does any registered tax agent schooled by tax CPE, tax continuing education courses for tax professionals, all taxpayers are faced with the choice of taking the standard deduction or itemizing their deductions when filing the federal income tax return.

Below are six facts that will help tax professionals determine the method that will give clients the lowest tax.

Whether to itemize deductions on the tax return depends on how much a taxpayer has spent on certain expenses last year. Money paid for medical care, mortgage interest, taxes, charitable contributions, casualty losses and miscellaneous deductions can reduce a taxpayer’s taxes substantially. If the aggregate amount spent on these items exceeds the SD, the general rule of thumb is that a client will typically benefit the most by itemizing.

Standard deduction

Standard deduction amounts are based on a taxpayer’s filing status and are impacted by yearly inflation adjustments.

For 2010, the standard deduction amounts are as follows:

Single: $5,700

Married Filing Jointly: $11,400

Head of Household: $8,400

Married Filing Separately: $5,700

Qualifying Widow/Widower: $11,400

Different standard deductions for Different Taxpayers

The standard deduction amounts are contingent upon a number of variables including an individual’s:

filing status;

age (whether they’re 65 or older);

ability to see (e.g, they’re blind);

dependency status

If any of these conditions apply, then the Standard Deduction Worksheet-on the back of Form 1040EZ, or in the 1040A or 1040 instructions-should be used.

The standard deduction amount also depends on whether a taxpayer intends to claim the additional SD for the following:

a loss from a disaster declared a federal disaster

state or local sales or excise tax paid in 2010 on a new vehicle purchased before 2010

To claim these additional amounts, a Schedule L must be filed.

Limited itemized deductions

A taxpayer’s itemized deductions are no longer limited because of adjusted gross income.

Married Filing Separately

If a married couple files separate returns and one spouse itemizes deductions, the other spouse is prohibited from claiming the SD and is required to itemize all allowable deductions.

Not all taxpayers are eligible for the standard deduction

Individuals deemed ineligible by the IRS include:

nonresident aliens

dual-status aliens

individuals filing returns for periods of less than 12 months due to a change in accounting periods

Necessary Forms

The standard deduction can be taken on the following forms:

1040

1040A

1040EZ

Note:

If a taxpayer qualifies for the higher SD for new motor vehicle taxes or a net disaster loss, they are required to attach Schedule L. To itemize these deductions, use Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, and Schedule A, Itemized Deductions.

Given all of the factors that play into whether a taxpayer should opt for the SD or to itemize, enrolled agents, CPAs and other registered tax agents should strongly advise them to reach out to tax professional for guidance.

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.…

No Picture
General Article

Continuing Education for Older Adults

Continuing Education for Older Adults

Many young people look forward to getting out of school and think that they will never even have any desire to go back. However, many people do feel that it is necessary to continue on with education once they are older, and this article can tell you all about continuing education for older adults and why it is important.

Going back to school is a huge decision to make at any age. However, it can provide many benefits at any age. For example, if you are looking to make more money, taking the appropriate courses can help you increase your salary or help you get promoted. For people who want to change careers, getting another degree or learning new skills is a great way to do this.

Editor’s Note: In this depressed economy, going back to school may be one of the most important moves you can make. If you’re unemployed or looking for a career change, you might want to consider working for the energy efficiency industry. Building energy auditing is becoming one of the fastest growing sector in the Green industry. You simply need to obtain your BPI certification in order to get involved in this highly demanding job market.

If you no longer work, there are others reasons for wanting to go back to school. Learning new things is a great way to improve yourself and occupy your time with things that you love. You may even be able to meet new people and socialize through the classes that you take. Learning can be a very fulfilling and enjoyable experience.

You may be worried that going back to school will feel strange or that you will be completely out of place. However, many people go back and it is common for people of all ages to enroll in classes.

If you do not wish to attend courses on a campus or if you do not like the idea of having to travel to classes, you can now take courses online. Online courses are available in all kinds of subjects, ranging from the arts and sciences to mathematics and cooking.

With continuing education for older adults, you can learn a wealth of new skills, meet new people, or fulfill a long time dream of learning something that you did not have the chance to learn before. Be sure to look into all of your options and choose the right course for yourself.…

No Picture
General Article

Engineering Business – 3 More Keys to Marketing Success

Engineering Business – 3 More Keys to Marketing Success

Many engineers have no clue how to market their services. Marketing is not something they teach in engineering school. Ask any engineer how they market their services, and they would probably say word of mouth. Do not get me wrong word of mouth is probably one of the best marketing tools; it is inexpensive and someone else is vouching for you. But there are many other marketing strategies that also are inexpensive and will help your business grow no matter what the market conditions are.

As we said in our first article on engineering marketing most engineers are really good on the technical end of the business, but so good at the business end. Most engineers rather crunch the numbers and write the report then pick up the phone and talk to a new prospective client. In our first article we discussed two key marketing strategies.

Key 1: Personal ContactKey 2: Networking

In this article will discuss three more marketing strategies that you can implement that will get results.

Key 3: Business Cards – There is more to a business card then your company name, phone number, and your name. The smallest business brochure is the business card. Business cards are a form of marketing, but the purpose is merely for starting communication. This communication can begin with introductions during a meeting at a City conference room meeting, or it begins when an individual is looking through his stack of cards to find a Civil Engineer. He finds your card which he received a year ago at a seminar. The simple rule for business cards is to keep it simple but descriptive enough.

Cheap business cards printed on your printer does not market well. These types of cards make a statement that you are not very successful and don’t think very much about your appearance. A hastily put together business card can also be interpreted as a company that just started or may not be around very long. It is all about building your client’s confidence in your abilities. It would be a shame to loss that confidence by a business card.

The company’s billboard, your business card, should reflect the pride in your profession. The business card should include at a minimum Your Name, Title or Function, Company Name, Address, Phone and Fax Numbers, E-Mail Address, and Web-Site.

When handing out your business card you may want to have a short, concise description of the services your company provides printed on the back of the card or you may say it. This is known as a 10-second introduction. An example is:

Hello, my name is Fred Coaster and I provide Portland, Oregon with Land Development designs that develop our community with environmentally friendly, sustainable and economical projects. I’m a Civil Engineer.

Remember to keep it simple but memorable.

Key 4: Referrals – Another way to gain new clients is by giving referrals. The clients of engineers in Land Development are constantly asking for referrals for a Grading Contractor, Underground Contractor, General Contractor, Architect, Landscape Architect, Geo-technical Engineer, Structural Engineer, Traffic Engineer, Surveyors, Realtors, Commercial Bankers, Lawyers, and the list goes on. The same is true for all other fields of engineering. If you have a list of referrals for each category for your clients, and each of your referrals list you as one of their Civil Engineer referrals, the opportunity of new clients contacting you is greatly increased without spending a dime on advertising.

Key 5: Website – We are now in the internet age, and most clients will use the internet to research your company. Websites are your company’s online marketing brochure. There are two types of web-sites for professional services; the online brochure and lead generator.

The majority of websites used by engineering companies is basically an online company brochure. They typically state who they are, their contact information, the projects they have completed, list of clients, contact information, and the services they provide. Anyone searching the internet for an engineering company in their local area will visit the site, look around and either contact them or move on. The flaw with these sites is that there is no reason for the visitor to return.

A site that can build credibility with the client is a site that also has information (content) that the visitor can use. This type of website is a lead generator. Information on the site can be in the form of articles, newsletter (e-zines), blogs, and freebies. You also want to gather information on your visitors. Ask them to sign-up to receive your free newsletters. You want the visitors to see your site as a resource.

The online lead generator website needs a great deal more content than a typical company brochure website. The …

No Picture
General Article

Physical Therapy Continuing Education: Structural Impairments of the Hips

Physical Therapy Continuing Education: Structural Impairments of the Hips

Compared to ten years ago, there are far more Physical Therapy continuing education courses these days on the hip. One reason for this is our knowledge of hip movement and structural impairments has greatly increased.

We recently interviewed a Hip Movement Expert about Structural Impairments. Here are some of her responses.

Interviewer: A lot of surgeons these days are starting to focus more on the hips and especially structural impairments such as femoroacetabular impingement. We also know – well, I know through attending several of your courses – that we’re more aware of variation in hip structure such as retroversions, anteversions, and things along those lines. Could you just share with us your thoughts? How do you incorporate all these different components (the structural, the movement) in to your assessment and treatment?

Hip Movement Expert: Okay. Well, I think structural impairments are critical to identify so that you don’t mismanage that person’s movement.

For example, if your patient had femoral anteversion and looked medial rotated and you tried to correct that medial rotation by saying” keep your knee pointing straight ahead”, you would be pushing them way too far laterally, potentially irritating their hip joint instead of helping it.

I think when surgeons talk about anteversion and retroversion often they’re talking about the acetabulum. When physical therapists talk about it a lot of times they’re talking about the femur. And whether or not the two go together is not really clear.

Like if you have acetabular anteversion does that mean you have femoral anteversion? That’s unclear. As a clinician you don’t have x-rays at this point. You need to kind of look from the outside in, and what I recommend for the -versions is doing hip rotation range of motion as your first clue.

When you have a huge asymmetry that’s probably at least 15 degrees different – in other words if you had 45 degrees of medial rotation and only 25 or 30 of lateral, that discrepancy makes me say, “I better check this out a little bit more carefully.”

So, when I find a big asymmetry in one direction versus the other, that is my clue. I typically look at that in prone and then I’ll put them in sitting and I’ll see if that asymmetry persists. If it persists, it’s been shown that often that is a fairly reliable way to determine a -version; either retroversion or anteversion.

Then there’s the Craig’s test which many people do. I don’t know that it’s very reliable, but it just gives you another sense, “Yeah, I really do think there’s a bony problem here, therefore that’s that person’s neutral and when I’m asking them to move I need to have them move at their midpoint and not force them.”

I had a young boy who tore his labrum being given lunges. He was very, very retroverted and he was being told “get your feet straight ahead, get your knees straight ahead, do these lunges.” Then of course he tore his labrum and ended up with surgery.

So, if somebody had just respected his retroversion then he would have been able to do those exercises without any trouble. So, I really think that the -versions are important.

FAI, or femoroacetabular impingement, I guess my biggest suggestion at first would be a lack of hip flexion. So, if you flex somebody’s hip, especially a young person, and they don’t go past 90, or you feel a bit of a block, don’t push it. That’s the way they were built. You need to be mindful that most of the time hip flexion is going to be the direction that’s blocked with impingement.

Then coxa vera which would be a sharper angle in the frontal plane. It’s most often a woman with the wider pelvis and when they lay on their side their greater trochanter is fairly prominent. That gives me a sense that this person may just be built this way and then you have to kind of adjust their side lying positions accordingly. Or just even them crossing their legs they have to go a lot further than somebody who doesn’t have that sort of structural problem.

So, that’s just an example of three of them. I think some you look at by alignment, some you look at by range of motion, the -versions more with rotation, the impingements more with flexion.…

No Picture
General Article

Helping Taxpayers With Estimated Taxes, All Part of An Enrolled Agent Job

Helping Taxpayers With Estimated Taxes, All Part of An Enrolled Agent Job

Preparing tax returns and negotiating with the IRS are common activities of enrolled agent work. But, as a trusted tax adviser, an enrolled agent also explains tax matters in understandable ways to clientele. A commonly addressed situation is estimated tax payments.

For taxpayers who are newly self-employed as sole proprietors or independent contractors, estimated taxes are usually a mystery. As this happens to an increasing number of individuals, keeping abreast of the subject with enrolled agent continuing education is quite important.

Remaining thoroughly familiar with estimated taxes involves more than just proficiency in the calculations. The purpose of detailed understanding is for an enrolled agent job to include the ability to simplify descriptions of the complex. Estimated taxes are certainly one of those subjects.

The general objective of estimated tax payments that is relevant to taxpayers is avoiding underpayment penalty. Even if all tax liability is paid by April 15 after a year ends, the IRS usually imposes penalties if the unpaid amount at this tax-filing deadline exceeds $1,000.

In addition to self-employment activities, estimated tax payments become necessary when income is generated from rents, dividends, interest, and capital gains. In order to cover the additional tax liability from these income sources, a taxpayer who also has wages or retirement plan distributions is entitled to simply increase tax withholding.

Another avenue for paying a person’s tax liability that is explored in enrolled agent study is to increase the withholding on a wage-earning spouse. This is an effective technique if the spouses file a joint tax return.

Although the profit of an S corporation is not considered self-employment, it is taxable income for the shareholder. But an S corporation shareholder who also works for the business can increase the withholding on wages in order to cover the tax liability on the profit.

If there are no options to pay income tax via withholding, estimated tax payments are required. Tax is normally paid in four equal payments. Paying in proportion to income in each of the four periods is permitted. However, this is a complicated process because the tax owed for a particular period is affected by annualized income, not just the income of the period. This requires some difficult predictions to avoid underpayment penalty.

The common safe harbors for avoiding penalty are covered in enrolled agent education. Averting the penalty is accomplished by paying 90 percent of the current year tax assessment or 100 percent of last year’s tax. Substitute 110 percent of the amount from last year for taxpayers with adjusted gross income exceeding $150,000. An enrolled agent’s advice is sound by explaining that four equal payments for this year that equal last year’s tax is a simple way to avoid penalty – but can result in a tax bill next April 15 due to rising income.

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.…

No Picture
General Article

Nurses Continuing Education Are Constantly Learning

Nurses Continuing Education Are Constantly Learning

Nurses continuing education classes are constantly learning more and more about the medical field. The reason why most nurses continuing education are taking these classes are to keep them up-to-date on the ever-changing information about medications and procedures. Keeping all nurses current helps to make sure that they are given the right information and know how to properly perform a procedure.

Testing

Nurses continuing education are required to complete a set number of hours a day when classes are being held and must be able to pass their exams. In most cases, a test will take place that requires the nurse prove that they are aware of the procedure and how to perform the it quickly and correctly.

If the nurse is unable to do it correctly, he or she will be asked to take the class over again until they learn how to do it as instructed.

Course Offerings

When looking to participate in nurses continuing education classes, the classes being offered will vary from one session to another. In most cases, the available classes will keep the nurse knowledgeable about medications and the most up-to-date information on illnesses and viruses.

If the nurse sees a patient and does not know anything about the illness or virus, not only is the patient at risk, but also the staff. This is one reason why it is important that nurses continue their education even after they have graduated from school.

Refresher Classes

Refresher classes are available to all nurses continuing education in their specified areas of expertise. The refresher class will help to make sure that all information the nurse needs is fresh in their minds; this ensures that patients are receiving the best care possible.

Once the refresher course is over, a test will be given and the nurse will be expected to pass the test with a certain score percentage or they will have to retake the test as well as the refresher course. When attending the refresher course, be sure to bring paper and pen to write down any information that you think that you might forget later on down the road.

Hands-On Training

The nurses continuing education are not only learning from the textbooks and video’s that they are watching in classes, but also learning from the hands-on experience that they can only get from working. The hands-on part is essential to learning the proper way as you are actually working on someone who can tell you when something hurts or when they feel uncomfortable.

But when working in a classroom, the mannequin is usually getting the percentage of the hands-on time. While this may be a good idea at first, the hands-on time with patients is what the nurse will learn the most from.

This is why it is essential for nurses continuing education to frequently to learn new skills. Once they learn new techniques, nurses will be given the opportunity to try it out. Once they have mastered their new skills, they will move onto another area of expertise.…