Basic Certification Resource Page

Mandatory Homework:
Before the exam on the first day of class, you must complete four practice workbook returns in the 2017 version of TaxSlayer.  One of these four returns is the Windsor Washington case study (which you have already done in TaxSlayer 2016 at your October training session with me at the Kenney Center.  You should redo the Washington return in TaxSlayer 2017 before you do the other three.  The four returns (Berringer, Washington, Windsor, and Graham) are the first four returns in the 4491W workbook pdf at this link.  Please note that I am happy to answer questions by email.  I am also happy to make appointments to meet with you as soon as you return to campus to help you complete these returns.  

Note:  the IRS pubs you need to get familiar with before the exam are available online here:

How to prepare for the Basic IRS Certification Exam (to be given on the first day of class)

1) The IRS has a great set of on-line tutorials that present the key tax information you need to prepare basic-level tax returns.  That tutorial is full of problems similar to those you will encounter the exam (and similar to those you will encounter with live taxpayers.)    Work through it!  Take notes--remember that you can use your notes and any reference materials during the exam.

I have listed the tutorials with links at right, and I have put stars to show the most important topics.    --------------------------------------------------------------------->>>

2) The exam is open book and open note.  It is a good idea to mark up your Pub 4012 book with annotations to clarify the most important and trickiest parts, which you will frequently need to refer to on the exam (as well as with real taxpayers.)  

I have posted PDFs of my own annotated pages from the most important pages of the 4012, and I suggest you copy my annotations into your copy.  Those key sections are listed below.  Please email me with questions or requests for clarification if anything is unclear.

4)  Most useful resource is Pub 4012 Tab C on Qualifying Child/Qualifying Relative rules     Make sure you read my annotated copy of Pub 4012 Tab C and copy those annotations into your copy.   
5) Second most useful resource is Pub 4012 Tab B on Filing Status rules.      Make sure you read my annotated copy of Pub 4012 Tab B and copy those annotations into your copy    

6)  After you've done #1 and #2 above, be sure to read my "No King Solomon" rule post in  my Bed Buffalo blog.  (This is the topic that has given students the most trouble in past years.)  Also, read my post about how the IRS does not use English the same way normal people do!

7) Third most useful resource is Pub 4012 Page D-1 on the types of income that are subject to income tax and the types of income that are NOT subject to income tax.    Make sure you read my annotated copy of Pub 4012 Tab D and copy my page D-1 annotations  into your copy      

8)  After you have worked through the tutorial.  do the 4 homework Basic practice tax returns in your 4491W workbook using the 2017 TaxSlayer software when it becomes available in late November.   



TaxSlayer Practice Lab (updated for 2017 tax year!)for practice clients!  (Use this link only for PRACTICE returns)

(2017 Answer Key will be posted here after the 2017 version of the software is here, but the figures should be roughly similar.)

Basic Link & Learn Tutorial Topics

There are some very useful lessons in the 4491 PDF book.  (Key chapters for basic are listed below:

Ch 5:  Filing Status ***
Ch 6: Personal Exemptions  ***
Ch 7: Dependency Exemptions ***
Ch 8:Unique Filing Status and Exemption Situation ***
Ch.9: Income, Wages,Interest,etc. ***
Ch 12: Income: retirement income *
Ch 20 Standard deductions ** 
Ch 21: Itemized deductions *
Ch 23: Credit for child and dependent care expenses *
Ch 24: Earned Income Credit **
Appendix A-1 Affordable Care Exercises *

Remember, do NOT try to memorize all this!  Just read through, try the exercises in the book, make a note of the most helpful pages in the Pub 4012 for future reference, write down your questions and send them to me or post them on the discussion forum I will set up in Nexus.  I will also be available and available for help pretty much every waking hour from Monday morning Jan 2 through the beginning of the exam on Tuesday Jan 5.