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Pathway Focus of the Month: Business

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Potential Career: Tax Preparer and Tax Examiner

(Primary information sources: MassCIS)

These are two different sides to the same coin. Tax preparers interview clients, review tax records, and fill out tax returns. Tax examiners work for the government agencies that collect taxes

Tax preparers fill out tax returns for others for a fee. Their job is to complete all the required forms using all the possible deductions to reduce their clients' tax debt. In larger firms, some tax preparers check forms and verify tax returns prepared by others. Tax preparers interpret current tax law for their clients. They also inform clients of the expected effects of new tax laws. Some tax preparers assist their clients with such matters as tax planning, record keeping, and audits. Tax preparers who are enrolled agents with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may represent their clients at audits. This is typically seasonal work, with little activity from June through December and very long hours from January through May. A college degree is not required; however, you need formal training in tax preparation. This would be a great option if you want to be your own boss and grow your own business. To be successful, you have to be great at budgeting, as you will make a lot of money for five months and would have to make that last all year. You would also have to cover your own benefits

Tax examiners review state and federal tax returns. They may be called in when there is a tax problem. Examiners look over accounting books and records, determine whether the proper accounting methods were used, check to see if all required information was included, figure out how much tax is owed and what amount must be paid. Tax examiners investigate and report their findings to state and federal government agencies and, occasionally, may gather evidence and testify at trials. Roughly half of the tax examiners have a bachelor’s degree. These are typically salaried government jobs with work year-round. The hourly wage would be less than for a tax preparer, but your average yearly income is higher. In addition, you would have secured employment (and a guaranteed paycheck!) all year with paid vacation, excellent health care and retirement benefits.

Job Outlook: There is a lot of demand for tax preparers during peak tax season, with hiring occurring in winter for work from January through May. Tax preparers can be paid hourly, as consultants, or as temp workers. Some tax preparers can find salaried, year-long employment, but those positions are highly competitive and require more training. Roughly one-third of all tax preparers are self-employed.

There are fewer job openings for tax examiners, but there are more work options at the federal, state, or local government levels. While the number of people filing taxes is growing, advances in technology are reducing the need for tax examiners. Examiners may see only the forms that the computer decides need more analysis. Therefore, there is greater demand for tax examiners with higher levels of education (bachelor’s degree or higher) and prior experience (co-op, internship, volunteer work).

For More Information: The National Association of Tax Preparers (NATP) claims to be THE leading association for tax preparers, but the website is geared towards working professionals; the local MA/RI chapter may be a good place to look for business-school partnerships. The National Association of Tax Consultants (NATC) offers a more user-friendly webpage with tax and news updates, but still lacking for those wanting to join the profession. Finally, the National Society of Accountants (NSA) has the best user-interface and a page dedicated to students hidden under the “Scholarship” button.

About BCC's Programming: BCC is one of the few schools in the area with a thriving Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) program. Students in the Accounting program take two courses that specialize in federal tax preparation; students then apply what they learn by participating in the IRS VITA program, offering free tax help for taxpayers who qualify. (This training and experience will jump-start your career!) All Business programs share common courses, so students can switch easily between concentrations.

Hint for Success: For both careers, you need strong communication skills, ability to work well with people (many times in stressful situations), sound problem solving and reasoning skills, and of course, solid math skills. For a tax preparer, take some courses in entrepreneurship. For a tax examiner, an associate’s degree is enough to get you employment but a bachelor’s degree in accounting would help create advancement opportunities.


Headlines

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Headlines

The DESE CVTE Linkage Initiative has released a draft publication, Think You’re Ready for College? Think Again! Based on the Minnesota Association for Developmental Education’s College Readiness brochure, this brochure outlines how the college experience differs from high school and provides ample tips to ensure college success. The headings describe organizational, support and student responsibility differences. Take a look and feel free to try it out on students and parents. DESE’s Karen DeCoster is looking for feedback and input on the brochure and the accompanying power point presentation (including a catchy title).

The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) Selects States to Participate in New Initiative Aimed at Increasing State High School Graduation Rates. The NGA Center announced the selection of six states – Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Tennessee and West Virginia – to develop comprehensive state dropout prevention and recovery policies through the State Strategies to Achieve Graduation for All initiative. The initiative will help states clearly identify their dropout problem; assess the gaps in student supports for preventing students from dropping out of school and recovering the students that drop out; and create a dropout prevention and recovery action plan for implementation that includes tactics such as state policies, executive orders, advisory councils, legislation or regulatory reforms.

MA Energy Sector Partnership $6 million grant application to the US DOL has been approved for funding. The Federal Green Jobs Grant focuses on projects that target industry sectors for which the state’s energy policy is acting as a driver to grow jobs and Target occupations for which businesses have identified demand and for which workers can be prepared in less than 3 years, among other goals. Of the funding total, MA has awarded $450,000 to the Southeast region to primarily train unemployed, underemployed, and incumbent workers to secure jobs and promotions in the emerging clean energy sector. The grant will fund green jobs training through BCC and UMass Dartmouth. UMD will be adding a graduate level course that did not previously exist, and BCC will pursue certification as a Building Performance Institute affiliate.


Professional Development Opportunities

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Professional Opportunities

FDIC Money Smart Train-the-Trainer, Catholic Social Services, 1600 Bay Street, Fall River MA, March 16, 2010, 8:30am – 3:30pm. How appropriate for this Update! The FDIC doesn’t come to Fall River often, so take advantage of this FREE training opportunity. The Money Smart curriculum is free, available online and in hard copy, offered in five languages and now provides a teen version. This is a perfect foundation for the accountants and tax consultants of tomorrow, but will help any CVTE student prepare for workplace and personal success. The event flyer has more information, including a detailed map. Space is limited so reserve a spot today: email the FDIC and provide the following information: name, position, organization, address, city, state, zip code, email, phone, and website.

Looking for Innovative Educators—Yes, YOU!! Show us how you inspire your students and you could win a behind-the-scenes trip to the Premier Annual PBS Event: PBS Showcase in Austin, TX, May 17-20, 2010. To enter, go to the event website to communicate why you are an innovative educator in a short entry and attach a video clip or photograph. Entries are due between January 25 - March 12. Fifty winners will be announced April 5, 2010; winning entries will be featured on the PBS Teachers site.

Teaching Entrepreneurship Workshop, Bristol Community College, April 13 – May 18 (five sessions), 3pm – 6pm. The Center for Business and Industry, in conjunction with the Academic Center for Entrepreneurship, is offering a professional development opportunity for vocational and career tech ed instructors. Entrepreneurship is a required Strand in all Chapter 74 programming; if you have never been trained to teach this, now’s your chance! Learn how to write an effective business plan, develop effective and professional marketing materials, and increase student computer literacy. Successful completion of the workshop sessions will result in 15 PDPs for you and the opportunity to create a new articulation agreement with BCC. There is a $250 fee but you can use Chapter 74 PD funds as this supports implementation of the Frameworks. And don’t forget—1 out of every 10 students goes on to own their own business! Contact Jeanne Girard at 508-678-2811, ext. 2695, for more information.

Sixth Annual CONNECT Composition Conference: Supporting College Writers in the Classroom, Cape Cod Community College, Barnstable MA, Friday, May 21, 2010, 8:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Carol Severino, Director of the Writing Center and Writing Fellows Program at the University of Iowa. This conference will be full of interactive workshops designed to support the developing writer. Registration for K-12 faculty and staff is $20 and includes lunch. The partnership is currently seeking workshop proposals; all proposals are due March 6, 2010.


Student Opportunities

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Student Opportunities

The Legacy Project Invites Applications for Essay Contest.
The Legacy Project is accepting applications from students age 8 to 18 for its Listen to a Life Essay Contest. The contest provides young people the chance to learn about real life from real people, and they can give another person the greatest gift of all – a feeling that their life matters. To enter the contest, a student must interview a grandparent or "grandfriend" who is 50 years or older about their hopes and goals through life; how they achieved what they set out to do and overcame obstacles; or how dreams may have changed along the way. The student then has to write a 300-word essay based on the interview. Awardees will receive one Grand Prize - a Lenovo ThinkCentre computer and $800 of Orchard Software and an iPod nano; twenty runner-up prizes of $400 of Orchard Software and a MP3 player from Orchard Software will also be awarded. Deadline: March 29.

Casey Family Programs and The Orphan Foundation of American Announce the Availability of College Scholarships for Students from Foster Care.
Casey Family Programs and The Orphan Foundation of American are accepting applications for their 2010-2011 academic year. The Casey Family Scholars Program will award approximately 75 new scholarships for undergraduate study and career/technical training at accredited institutions and programs. Deadline: March 31.

2010 NASA/USA Today ‘NO BOUNDARIES PROJECT’ for Students, Grades 7 - 12.
This free project is designed to help 7th-12th grade students explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. The project is team-centered, cross-curricular, aligned to national standards and structured to require minimal teacher preparation. This project will introduce students to the limitless opportunities at NASA and encourage them to work toward STEM careers through stimulating project-based learning and team competition. First-place winners will receive a VIP experience at a NASA center and a $1,000 cash award. Second and third place will receive $500 and $250 respectively. Contest deadline April 15, 2010.

Global Youth Service Day 2010, April 23-25.
Global Youth Service Day is a campaign that celebrates and mobilizes millions of children and youth who positively impact their communities every day of the year through service and service-learning. Established in 1988, GYSD occurs in over 100 countries each year and is the largest service event in the world. On GYSD children and youth address the world's most critical issues by partnering with families, schools, community and faith-based organizations, businesses, and governments. In 2010, the event will be April 23-25. The event website provides more information, resources to plan events, and a map of GYSD events around the world!


Resources of the Month

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Resources of the Month

GRANT: Massachusetts 21st Century Community Learning Centers - High School Innovation Grant (Fund Code: 647-B-1) The purpose of the federally-funded Massachusetts 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) High School Innovation Grant is to develop creative and engaging extended learning opportunities for high school students that will help to address high school, college, and workforce readiness and success. 21st CCLC programs must provide participating students with the opportunity to deepen their school-day learning during out-of-school time hours (school year and summer), and to gain a greater understanding of content areas by embedding academics into high interest educational activities. Priority is given to communities with a Title I grant and serves serve students in schools with 15% or more low-income families. Grant awards will range from $50,000 to $250,000. For questions of more information check the website or contact Karyl Resnick, (781) 338-3515. A Letter of Intent is due from all applicants by Friday, March 5, 2010 and the final proposal is due Thursday, May 13, 2010.

WEBSITE: FindYouthInfo.gov provides federally-developed interactive tools and other resources to help youth-serving organizations and community partnerships. It is designed to benefit federal agencies, youth service providers, and the youth-serving community. Tools and resources available on the website include strategies for engaging youth, community assessment tools, mapping tools of local and federal youth programs, and a searchable database of evidence-based programs to address risk and protective factors in youth.

PUBLICATION: High School Career Academies: A 40-Year Proven Model for Improving College and Career Readiness (2009). This report features high school career academies and describes a time-tested model for improving academic outcomes and preparing students for both college and careers. With a strong research base, career academies have been shown to have positive impacts on attendance, earned credits, and high school graduation and college attendance rates. Additionally, participation in a career academy increased post-high school employment rates and earnings, particularly for at-risk young men. Career academies are also unique by having created National Standards of Practice that guide the model's continuous improvement.

PUBLICATION: Success at Every Step: How 23 Programs Support Youth on the Path to College and Beyond (2009). This report describes 23 programs that have been proven to help young people successfully complete high school and be prepared for success in postsecondary education and careers. These programs represent a wide range of interventions, including school-wide reform initiatives, community-based afterschool services, work-based learning opportunities, and college access programs. From an analysis of the included programs, the report identifies common programmatic and structural elements that may contribute to their effectiveness and summarizes key outcomes.


Articulation Update

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Articulation Update

Regional Articulations are a Reality. The Office Technology regional articulations have been sent out to schools with Chapter 74 VTE Office Technology programs. Regional articulation drafts for Culinary Arts, Environmental Science and Technology, and Graphic Communications are being reviewed internally and should be sent out soon. If your school is listed in the DESE Chapter 74 Program Directory, you will be contacted when relevant regional articulations are ready to be sent out for your superintendent’s signature. All regional articulations are valid for the 2009-2010 academic year and will be automatically renewed this summer. Contact the Bristol CVTE Consortium Office if you have any questions.