Now is the time to sign up for the H&R Block Tax Class

If you have ever thought about taking the H&R Block Tax Class now is the time to sign up. I took the class last year and reviewed it on the blog here.

Even if you don't want to work for H&R Block I highly recommend the class. It is interesting, challenging and I thought it was a lot of fun. To sign up for the class got to Levae a comment if you have any questions about my experience taking the class.


I Passed the IRS RTRP Exam

This year for the first time the IRS is requiring tax preparers to pass a certification exam. The Registered Tax Return Preparer  (RTRP) Exam is a two and a half our exam covering tax preparation, rules and regulations. You pay $116 to take the exam at a Prometrics Testing Center.

H&R Block gave us the Wiley study book and offered a web based training for exam preparation. I read the book and then yesterday took the practice exam in the web based training. It was hard! and I began to wonder if I would pass.


Today Duke and I took the exam and we both passed!

Compared to the practice exam the real exam today was easy. I think all the prep stuff wasn't all that helpful and it will scare anyone who is trying to prepare for the exam. I put quite a bit of time into studying and I am so glad I just took the exam and got it over with. 

If you have prepared taxes for H&R Block and you have reviewed the ethics and circular 230 materials you will pass the exam. Don't let the practice tests scare you!

Earned Income Tax Credit

When I first started learning about taxes I had heard of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and assumed it was a way for low income tax payers to reduce their tax liability. 

Then I took a tax class and learned about refundable credits. Both the EITC and the Additional Child Tax Credit are refundable credits. A refundable credit is a credit that allows you to get more money back from the IRS than you had withheld.

It wasn't until I actually began preparing taxes that I realized the magnitude of the EITC. Assume that you and your husband made $16,000 in 2011 and had $1,000 withheld for income tax.

When you file your taxes not only will you get back the $1,000 that you had withheld but you will also receive EITC of $5,751 and Additional Child Tax Credit of $1,950. Your total tax refund will be $8,701.

Last year according to the IRS 268 million tax payers received the EIC for a total of $59.5 Billion!

According to the IRS:

"In tax year 2010, almost 26.8 million eligible workers and families received over $59.5 billion total in EITC. The average EITC amount last year was around $2,200."

Your Time is Valuable so Outsource your taxes to H&R Block

When I was a director at Sun Microsystems I attended a meeting for women directors where the speaker was a woman engineering vice president. This woman grew up and was educated in India. She was highly effective and highly respected. The purpose of the talk was to help other women move into positions of senior leadership.  I will never forget one thing she said. It had a big impact on me.

I think the impact was so big because I really did try to do it all. When my daughter Shannon was about 12 she gave me this sign as a Mother's Day gift. She didn't intend it as a joke. She thought maybe we should start using it.


I grew up thinking that woman could do it all, have a career,  raise children, nurture friendships, exercise, cook, maintain a clean and beautiful home, maintain household finances…. the list goes on and on. Once I had a family and a career I learned that the reality is that you can't do it all. There aren't enough hours in the day. I came to the conclusion that if I tried to do it all I would be mediocre at everything.

The woman VP who was speaking to us that day said that she didn't understand why American woman tried to do it all themselves. She said that in India woman have help and don't feel guilty when they rely on help to allow them to focus on the important things. She recommended hiring help. She called it outsourcing. It made me realize that if I hired help I could focus on my career, my children and the other priorities in my life.

As I said I didn't follow my own advice very well. I outsourced very few tasks but some of the  things which could be outsourced are cleaning, cooking, laundry, paying the bills, driving the kids around, and doing taxes. I used to think I had to do them all myself. If I was starting over I would figure out a way to have someone else do many of these things. I would create a support organization for me incorporated.

If you are a woman or a man today with a busy life I suggest that you think about hiring help. Instead of spending hours doing your own taxes have H&R Block do them. One of the benefits of doing them yourselves is you learn how taxes work but if you have someone like me do your taxes you will save time and you can still make it a learning experience. Allow me to do the detail work and you can focus on asking questions and understanding how your taxes fit in the big picture of your life.

Another advantage of having H&R Block do your taxes is that for just $35, you can purchase the Peace of Mind® Extended Service Plan. If you owe additional taxes due to our error in the preparation of your return, we'll pay up to $5,500. But more important if you get an audit or an IRS letter you can outsource the handling of it to H&R Block and you can focus on the important stuff.

As I was writing this post it occurred to me that over the years I didn't do a very good job of following my own advice. But I still think it is pretty good advice

As you know I am a tax preparer for H&R Block. Obviously all the opinions in this blog are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for H&R Block.

The H&R Block Tax Class

Last September I decided I'd like to work for H&R Block doing taxes during the 2012 tax season. I took and passed the H&R Block tax class during October nd November. The class was 7 weeks long, 4 days a week 3 hours a day. It cost in the neighborhood of $200. The class was a prerequisite if I wanted to work for H&R Block. 

The class was well worth the cost even if I wasn't looking for a job. In fact the books alone were worth the cost. They were amazing. They were very well written and they made what is a confusing and convoluted subject easy to understand. There was a text book, a work book with 50 case studies and a California tax book. They added up to 4 inches and 8 pounds of books!

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All those case studies were a lot of work. We started out doing all the returns by hand which accomplishs two things. One, you really understand how taxes work. When I took my CFP tax class at UC Santa Cruz I memorized that taxes  = income – adjustments – deductions + credits.  After doing 50 returns by hand I know it. I can visualize it on the forms. I know how the forms work to determine taxes owed.

The second thing that doing returns by hand accomplishes is that it makes you really appreciate the computer. About half way through the class we started also doing returns in the computer. I love computers!!

Doing the returns by hand meant that we had a lot of homework. This class was a lot of work. I spent literally hours reading and doing returns.

Another good thing about the class was the people I met. Going through a challenging difficult process with other people forges friendships. One of those people was Susie Iventosch who has written a fun cook book about taxes called Tax Bites and Tasty Morsels: Who's Been Eating my Pie?


Finally I have to say the class was fun! I have the kind of logical mind that likes puzzles, spreadsheets and challenges. Finishing a return and getting the right answer was a moment for celebration. Yes! I solved it! It reminded me of completing a difficult puzzle or solving an adventure game and discovering you have found the prize.

I would highly recommend the H&R Block tax class. I feel prepared to do real returns for people accurately and with confidence.