Friday, October 19, 2012

National Tax Training School {Schoolhouse Review Crew}

Believe it or not, the kids are not the only students at our house right now! I can't even count the number of times I've contemplated what I would study if I could go back to school, or what I might do differently if I could have a do-over on my education.  Often those "what if" thoughts are related to what I might study in order to re-enter the work force.  I got the chance to try out what of those scenarios recently when I had a chance to review the Federal Income Tax Course from National Tax Training School.


My work experience before leaving the work force to be at home with my children was in accounting and office management, but that was a long time ago in land far away (okay, Canada.  Not THAT far away, but a different country nonetheless.) so getting updated training in understanding US tax preparation seemed like it would be a pretty logical fit.

National Tax Training School is an accredited correspondence school that specializes in tax training - in fact, the only nationally accredited school of this kind.  The Federal Income Tax course prepares students to take the required IRS Registered Tax Preparer (RTRP) exam.  This course is designed so that even people with little or no previous experience in the tax field can train to prepare taxes for individuals and small businesses.  It is a comprehensive course specifically designed for home study.  It not only teaches how to prepare tax returns, but also provides valuable teaching on everything you need to know to operate your own tax preparation business or accept a job preparing tax returns in an accounting or tax firm.

National Tax Training School also offers the Higher Course in Federal Taxes and the California Tax Preparer Course.  The Higher Course is intended for those who have previous tax preparer experience and want additional training to be able to prepare taxes for partnerships, corporations and fiduciaries.  The California Tax Preparer Course is for residents of California who must acquire a state license in addition to registering with the IRS.

I reviewed the Federal Income Tax Course, which is in 20 Lesson units requiring approximately 8 hours of study each.  Because it is a home study course, the student can decide how much time to devote to completing the course.  It can be completed in as little as 8 weeks, but students have up to a year to complete it.  As a busy homeschool mom, I knew I would be working on this course over a period of months rather than weeks, but so far I have been very pleased.

Upon enrollment, I received the lessons in a binder and could start work immediately.  There are helpful suggestions for how to manage study time and how best to study the lessons.  My goal was to set aside some time two nights a week to work through the materials.  (The course recommends setting a regular time to study and keeping strictly to that schedule, whether it's an hour every day or one hour per week.)  My pace is slower than I would like it to be, but it's what I can manage during these busy months.  Each unit clearly explains a portion of the tax law, including some of the history.  Although the material is written in a professional tone, it is easily understandable language and should be accessible to adults and high school level students.  At the end of each chapter there is a self-test which allows me to check my own understanding of the material.  Anything I struggled with or didn't get right in the self-test can be reviewed and studied further before completing the test which is mailed back to the school for evaluation.  I could start the next chapter immediately, not needing to wait for results of the chapter test before continuing.
Upon completion of Chapter 17, National Tax Training sends the following additional materials - the Final Examination, State Tax Guide, a portfolio of case studies, the Federal Tax Reference handbook, and the book Building, Marketing & Operating a Profitable Tax Practice.  For the purposes of the review, these materials were sent to us early, and I've had a chance to page through them a bit.  The book about operating a tax practice is a practical guide to setting up a tax business, with many details and instruction on how to establish and arrange an office, market your practice, manage fees and billing, ethics, tax audits, and much more.  Although at this time I don't anticipate setting up my own practice, I am finding the information valuable.  Having this book means that I may reasonably consider having my own practice in the future.  It's like a college or trade school offering job placement services and practical help with resumes and interviews.

While I'm still in the early chapters of the study, I am finding it interesting and manageable.  I appreciate the self-tests that helps me evaluate how I'm doing.  When the graded chapter tests are returned to me, they include the answer key with explanations of the answers.  The course is comprehensive and well-presented, and I am confident that when I've completed it, I will be ready to put my training to use in a practical way.  That might mean just preparing our own tax returns with more confidence for the immediate future, but I hope that it will also mean adding to our family income at some point since I'll be able to seek employment in the tax field or start building my own practice.

National Tax Training School is now in the process of launching an online version of the course.  It will be the same as the print version, but will be adding features such as short audio and video lectures and discussion forums.  I've had time to enroll in the online version and start poking around for the purpose of the review, but I haven't done any of my tests there.  I think it is a great idea and will really enhance what is already offered.  I guess I'm just old school enough that I prefer to read from the 3-ring binder, and having started taking the tests on paper, I will mostly likely continue.  I am looking forward to checking out video lectures when they become available though.

The credentials of National Tax Training School are impressive:Photobucket
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You may be interested to know that NTTS courses are recommended for college transfer credits at more than 1500 colleges and universities.

What I liked best:
  • self-paced course that allowed me to set my own study hours and pace
  • not just preparation to take the (IRS exam), but materials to help prepare for operating my own business if I choose to.
  • ongoing support, depending on the enrollment option chosen.  This means Postgraduate Revision Service to keep you updated on changes in tax laws, rules, and revisions; and consultation and advisory service.  (You'll want to check the details on the NTTS website page "What You Get")
Would National Tax Training School be a good fit for someone in your home?  Here's what you need to know:

Visit the National Tax Training School website: or call 1-800-914-8138 for information.  There are two enrollment options:

1) Standard enrollment which includes four years of post-graduate support. If paid in full at enrollment, this option costs $795, or it may be paid in three installments of $275 each, or six installments of $140 each.

2) Standard enrollment with two years of post-graduate support.  If paid in full at enrollment, this option costs $495, or it may be paid in three installments of $175.

No previous tax or accounting experience is necessary.  The website says that anyone who has completed two years of high school education should be able to complete the course and establish a tax practice.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog for more information and to read other Crew member reviews.


Disclaimer: As part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received these course materials in exchange for my honest opinion.


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