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Blog Archive February 2020



How do I determine if I need a CPA to file my taxes?

Tax time text wooden block with on U.S. tax form.

If you've debated whether to file your taxes on your own or hire a licensed professional, here's the breakdown of what to consider. Several factors come into play that could tip the scales in either direction. Prioritizing those that matter most to you, along with those that are most important should help facilitate your decision.
Many stress about inadvertently making errors on their return, or not having the knowledge to benefit from tax breaks that would result in a higher return. Considering how many counts on or look forward to their yearly tax return, it is a point of great importance to guarantee that every possible deduction is filed correctly. Others procrastinate because of the seemingly complicated process it entails when, in fact, it is relatively easy. First and foremost, one must consider the complexity of the return you plan to file. Filing your tax return should be reasonably simple if your financial circumstances have not changed much in the past year and are as follows:
•  You are single
•  You have only one primary source of income
•  Do not have rental properties
•  You do not have any dependents
•  You are not self-employed
•  You do not have significant assets
•  You did not move to another state or country

If all of these factors apply to you, the filing should be straightforward and straightforward. There are several options to file your return yourself and still have some guidance. The IRS offers a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program that provides free tax preparation help to those that earn less than $56,000. Local libraries and villages also offer programs around tax season that provide tax preparation assistance. Most of the tax software programs available online, such as Turbo Tax and Credit Karma Tax, are free or relatively low cost and are very user-friendly, designed to guide the user through the entire process of filing the return from start to finish. If you choose to file your return yourself, you can save yourself the hefty expense of hiring a professional, which averages $200 to $300 for an average return.

However, some may still opt to utilize a trusted CPA, believing the fee is worth the hassle and time of not attempting to file the return themselves. Some factors do make filing a tax return, a bit more complicated. If you have multiple ways of supplementing your income, are a rental property owner, or have some other manner by which your financial situation is a bit different than the norm, you may want to ask the advice of a professional. Other reasons that complicate the filing of a tax return include if the following events have occurred in the past fiscal year:
•  Marriage
•  Had a baby
•  Added a dependent
•  Divorce
•  Purchased property
•  Obtained revenue from outside of the United States

Should you decide to have a professional process your return, always pay attention to how your finances are being managed, so you understand the reason various decisions are being made. You never know when you may want to step in to take over your finances.

Keep in mind there have been quite a few changes in the 2017 tax reform that have altered the way taxes are now filed. For instance, there is a single 1040 form for individual tax returns to simplify things. Many deductions were eliminated and the standard deduction was increased. Also, there is now a $10,000 deduction limit on state or local taxes, as opposed to prior when there wasn't a limit at all. These changes are noted in the various tax software that can be used by individuals when filing on their own and will, of course, be taken into account by an informed CPA. The question is simply a matter of which method is best suited to your needs?


Optimizing Your Resume

Female candidate interview with HR managers in office.

Updating your resume may feel like a lottery draw in terms of which skills to list, the choice of wording utilized, and who to list as references. As a whole, this single document must represent you in the most favorable light, highlighting your every strength to a person unbeknownst to you. The hiring manager reading your resume may be the type that is very black and white, eliminating any applicants that do not have the skills and experience required for the position. Others prefer to meet applicants and take their character into account, using that to compensate for a minor lack of job requirements. Regardless of the hiring manager’s preference or your resume credentials, there are specific skills any employer will be impressed to see on a resume. These are skills that most candidates will have from life experiences, if not specifically from a professional environment, that can give a boost to any resume.

Management Positions
If you’ve ever had any sort of position in which you represented a company’s image to the public, list it on your resume. There are several skills involved in dealing with consumers, whether it be as a coffee shop manager, instructor or sales representative. The ability to manage employees or maintain satisfied clients are valuable skills to have. Customer service and interpersonal skills are excellent skills to have when applying for any position.

If you had the opportunity to improve a situation in a past position, especially in a financial manner, mentioning that in your resume is a must. Detailing the percentage or numerical result of your efforts is a massive boost for your resume. It also would be most impressive if you have the experience of streamlining a process, demonstrating time management skills.

Apps and Technology

You don’t have to have a degree in Information Technology to have the types of skills needed for most jobs in today’s technologically focused world. Just having the experience of being savvy with everyday apps such as Twitter of Facebook, will get your foot in the door. Knowing how to navigate basic social media platforms will give you the basics to operate most other apps as well. Listing yourself as having even necessary digital communication skills also gives the impression that you are currently in the job market. Apps, of course, are not the only technological skill worth mentioning. Any computer skills and software program competency are significantly in demand in today’s market for the majority of employers.

Be as specific as possible when listing this skill as there are so many forms that can be associated with it. Have you helped with the church or company newsletter? Did you regularly write speeches and social media post blurbs for your executive friend or previous boss? Are you great at proofreading? Are you an active listener? All of these skills are worth mentioning on a resume.

Task Management
Everyone, at some point or other, has had the experience of taking on a home remodeling project, business-related effort or perhaps even supervising a recruit. In all of these cases, you have gained experience managing a project, which is another critical skill employers look for. Having the ability to be self-motivated, as well as succeeding in being organized and structuring the project to be carried out in a timely and productive manner, is imperative in business. Time wasted translates to dollars lost. All of these experiences lead to having the skills to problem solving, leadership and management, which are other fantastic skills to have on your resume.

Research the competition
Review the types of skills others in the position you hope to be most valuable. If you have any of them, be sure to list them on your resume. Consider what you can do to acquire any you may not feel confident about.
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