Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

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Man Up and Manage Your Health:

In Culture,Education,Family on June 15, 2013 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , ,

MH900326848June 10-16 is National Men’s Health Week

Father’s Day is Sunday but men should already be celebrating themselves. This week is Men’s Health Week, a time for males to learn to take control of their health. They certainly need the extra encouragement: men were 24% less likely than women to see a doctor last year.

That’s a shame considering that 1) heart disease, 2) cancer, and 3) accidents (unintentional injuries) are the top causes of death for men. Obviously you can’t predict an accident, but you can prevent and treat things like colon cancer and heart disease with earlier diagnosis. That’s why men need to man up and begin having regular checkups and screenings.

MH900442289Health screenings vary based on age, so if you want to find out more about what you’re in for before you check-in, check this out:

Screenings for men, ages 18-39
Screenings for men, ages 40-64
Screenings for men, ages 65 and older
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And here are five more steps every man can take to clean up his bill of health:
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MH9002344781)  Be physically active and make healthy food choices. Take more than a bathroom break from your basketball video game to go outside and shoot hoops at the local park. And instead of ordering takeout as a reward for exercising, take yourself out to the market and buy an apple or two a day.  

MH9002176082)  Get to your healthy weight and stay there. You don’t have to be as bulky as the Hulk. First find out which weight best suits your body and then figure out how to maintain x amount of pounds. It won’t happen in a day, but pretty soon your suit size won’t change. 

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3)  Become tobacco free. This one should be self-explanatory, but just to clarify, don’t smoke, don’t smoke, don’t smoke. Avoid everything tobacco-related like it’s the plague – because it actually is as deadly as the plague.

MH9000230264)  Drink only in moderation. There’s nothing more unattractive than a handsome man who reeks of liquor everyday. Not only is alcohol bad for your body, it causes even the best of us to make stupid decisions, which often results in accidents (see above for the #3 cause of death). If you drink, drink responsibly and save your dignity, your liver, and your life.

MH9004276305)  Manage stress. People who say they never stress out are lying. Stress is inevitable, but the key is to not let anxiety get the best of you. Don’t wait until the last minute to combat a panic attack: take control of your own reactions in general, and focus on what makes you feel calm, cool, and collected. Mental and physical exercise are effective stress relievers, so pick up a book or go for a run – or if you’re really ambitious, try reading while running. 

Men’s health week is the perfect time to learn how to be a man – and that means managing your health before you end up as a man down.

MH900213415Sufen Wang, M.S. Accountancy

Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793

Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

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Taxable or Nontaxable?

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Education,Family,Taxes on March 11, 2013 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

MH900442285Question Needs to be Answered: Income Tax Basics

You know (hopefully) that federal income tax returns are due April 15. But do you really know what income is – let alone if it’s taxable or non-taxable? Here’s income by the numbers to help you do the math correctly on your returns.

Income can include money, property, or services that you receive. All income is taxable unless the law specifically excludes it – and those “tips” you pocketed are not excluded. You should notice that income doesn’t just mean money: non-cash income received through bartering is as taxable as wages, and both parties must report the fair market value of goods/services received as income on their tax returns. 

MH900361224Although most income is taxable, there are exceptions to this rule. Gifts, bequests, and inheritances are usually nontaxable, so don’t worry about that luxury car given to you for your birthday. If you buy something and get a cash rebate from the dealer/manufacturer, that rebate is also not taxable. Welfare benefits, child support payments, and reimbursements for qualified adoption expenses are all not taxable. Finally, if you collected damage awards for a physical injury or sickness, those are yours to keep, tax-free – nobody wants to kick you while you’re down.

TMH900234599hings get a little tricky with income that’s not taxable except under certain conditions. For example, life insurance proceeds paid to you because of an insured person’s death are usually not taxable. However, if you redeem a life insurance policy for cash, any amount more than the cost of the policy is taxable. Similarly, any scholarship income used for certain costs like tuition and required course books is not taxable, but amounts used for room and board are taxable. And classifying your frat house as  “textbook” college living won’t work.

Don’t forget to report any taxable refund, credit, or offset of state or local income taxes you received, even if you weren’t mailed Form 1099-G. You’ll have to contact the government agency that issued the payment to obtain that form. And don’t miss out on IRS Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income – it explains everything you ever wanted to know about income.

Wang Solutions, Sufen Wang, M.S. Accountancy, (562) 856-0793

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Tested or Not?! Calling all Registered Tax Return Preparers!

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Education,Family,Taxes on February 21, 2013 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

ExamRTRP Program Up in the Air: Testing and Continuing Education are Voluntary


Calling all Registered Tax Return Preparers! You know how the IRS now requires every paid tax return preparer to pass a competency test and meet continuing education requirements in order to be called an RTRP? Not anymore. On January 18, a federal judge ruled that the mandatory RTRP regulatory system is invalid because the IRS had to stretch a law to make it apply to preparers in the first place. Prepare to be very, very confused.


In short, the ruling means the IRS does not have the authority to license tax preparers. Which means that as of right now, according to the IRS, “tax return preparers covered by this program are not currently required to register with the IRS, to complete competency testing or secure continuing education.” The regulatory practice requirements for CPA’s, attorneys, enrolled agents, enrolled retirement plan agents, or enrolled actuaries are unaffected by the ruling.


MH900054685Required is the key word in all of this. The IRS filed a motion to suspend the injunction, which was denied on Feb.1 by the same judge. However, he did clarify that the IRS can allow preparers to “voluntarily obtain credentials that might distinguish them from other preparers.” Thus, the IRS’ testing and continuing-education centers will remain open. Indeed, it might be a good idea to complete the RTRP requirements anyways: the IRS can appeal the judge’s full ruling and his decision could eventually be reversed.

The judge also clarified that the injunction does not affect PTINs, which means that those requirements and fees are still active. The IRS has reopened the online PTIN system, but it’s being updated to reflect current requirements. All of this confusion comes at a bad time with tax filing season just ahead. Tax return preparers need answers from the IRS and they need them fast.

Man pointing chartAnd what does all this mean for us, the tax payers?  Always check your tax preparer‘s background, credentials and ask for references!  “Google” the tax preparer’s name and check out his/her background as much as you are able before you make the hiring.  Just because it is NOT required to be licensed, does not mean that anyone off the street can and should prepare your tax returns!  Hire a reputable tax preparer will paid off in the long run!


On the Money, Sufen Wang, Wang Solutions

M.S.Accountancy, Long Beach, CA 562-856-0793

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Whistleblowers Wanted:

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Education,Taxes on January 27, 2013 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

MH900084382Report Suspected Tax Fraud

To catch a thief, the IRS needs your help. If you suspect someone might be bending certain tax laws, don’t just stand there – do something! There’s a variety of tax frauds, so the IRS has conveniently created a chart to explain which form you’ll need to fill out in order to make the tax world a better place.

Direct your pen to Form 3949-A, Information Referral, if you suspect an individual/business of false exemptions or deductions, kickbacks, false/altered documents, failure to pay taxes, unreported income, failure to withhold, or organized crime. Then congratulate yourself on doing the right thing.

MH900422392Identity theft is also a type of tax fraud. If you believe that someone is posing as you and has used your SSN for employment purposes or to file a tax return, pick up Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. The sooner you submit the form, the sooner the impostor will be caught.

Maybe your friendly neighborhood tax preparer has been getting rich a little too quickly. If you suspect fraudulent activity or an abusive tax scheme by a tax return preparer/company, report it on Form 14157. You’ll need both this form and Form 14157-A if you also think a tax return preparer filed or altered your return without your consent.

If you have information about a suspicious tax promotion or promoter, whip out Form 14242 and show that fake promotion who’s boss. And finally, if you notice misconduct or wrongdoing by an exempt organizationor employee plan, complain about it on Form 13909, Tax-Exempt Organization Complaint (Referral) Form.

MH900383616Reporting tax fraud is a good deed and should be reward enough by itself. However, for anyone who needs extra motivation, check out Form 211, Application for Award for Original Information. Sometimes it pays to be a whistleblower.  Do the right thing, it is hard, but it is very, very rewarding!!!

 

Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy

Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

 

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Families… Come in different shapes and sizes…

In Culture,Education,Family on December 5, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , ,

MH900435055What You Should Know About Adoption

November was National Adoption Month 2012 – a month dedicated to raising awareness about adoption and drawing attention to the 104,000 children in foster care who still need good homes. But just because November is over, doesn’t mean you have to wait another year to find out more about adoption. In fact, if you’re thinking of adopting, now is the perfect time to start educating yourself about the challenges and steps involved in the adoption process.

For example, you must prepare to be patient. After you first contact an adoption agency, it usually takes about a year for a child to be placed with you. During that time you’ll need to complete an adoption home study, which explores your motivation to adopt and the type of children you are both willing and able to parent. Next, after expressing interest in a child or sibling group, the possible match will go through a series of reviews. If all goes well, the child/children will eventually be placed with you, but the adoption will not be legally final for at least another six months after this placement.

MH900382585While there is no ideal adoptive parent, you should be able to provide a happy, balanced home for the new member of your family. As long as you have stable housing, it does not matter if you rent or own your living space. You must also have adequate income to meet your family’s needs. Just as importantly, you must be a mature and responsible adult. So if you don’t have a job, you live in your parents’ garage, and you play computer games all day, you probably shouldn’t consider adoption – at least not for right now.

MH900183052If you feel ready for both the adoption process and the adoption itself, it can be an incredibly rewarding change in your life. However, even if you aren’t prepared to take that big step, you can still have a positive impact on a child’s life. Many children in foster care have been removed from their homes for their own protection, due to abuse and neglect. As a volunteer for a non-profit organization such as CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Orange County, you would be assigned to consistently spend time with one of these children, building a relationship and ensuring that he or she receives the necessary support while going through the foster care process. In fact, this one-on-one relationship between the volunteer and dependent child is often the only stable, positive relationship that child has. If you want to help, then consider dedicating your time to becoming a friend and advocate for a foster child.

Mother and DaughterOn The Family, 
Sufen Wang,
Wang Solutions

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Smartphone Users Beware!

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Culture,Education,Entertainment on November 4, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , ,

 Your Identity is at Risk

Smartphones got their name for a reason: they let us send e-mails, login to social networks, buy products, check our bank account balance, and do countless other things – all from the palms of our hands. Thus, it’s not an exaggeration to say that for many people, their smartphone is their life. After all, it contains all of their most important personal information.

You probably know where this is going. While it’s a good thing to have your credit cards, contacts, passwords, etc. all on one handy-dandy device, it becomes a really bad thing if you lose your phone. Whereas in the past an identity thief would have to break into your house and steal a huge stack of papers from your file cabinet, now all they have to do is turn the phone on that you accidentally left at the bus stop.

That’s probably why a recent study by Javelin Research found that smartphone users are 33% more likely to become victims of identity theft than non-users. And things are made worse by the fact that 62% of smartphone users don’t use password protection. If you think it’s annoying to enter a pin whenever you use your phone, just think how much more annoying it will be to change every single password and to deal with fraudulent debts on your credit. Secure your smartphone with a pin – preferably something more difficult to guess than “1234.”

You should also be wary of any apps you download. Many have access to all of your personal files – right down to your billing address and Visa number – and they can even install malware on your phone. In fact, you might consider getting an antivirus just to be safe. Either way, make sure you always surf reputable sites and that they have a “padlock”symbol (meaning they are SSL secure) when you’re entering any financial information.

Speaking of security, never connect to open Wi-Fi connections on your smartphone. If you plug into the wrong network even for a minute, you’re basically giving hackers your personal information on a silver platter. And finally, cover your back by clearing your tracks: don’t store login information for websites on your phone. If you’re smart about your smartphone, you can outsmart anyone who wants to steal your identity.

On the Money, Sufen Wang, Wang Solutions

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Fake Online Pharmacies:

In Culture,Education,Family on October 28, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , ,

A Good Deal Can Be Bad for Your Health

Speaking of flu season, your local pharmacy is probably not a pretty sight right now with long lines of people coughing and clutching their stomachs. With all of those germs out there, switching to an online pharmacy might seem like a good idea.

It’s not – unless you do your research – because 97% of online pharmacies don’t follow U.S. pharmacy laws. In other words (or numbers), only 3% of all online pharmacies are legitimate. For all you know, that cheap pharmacy you found through Google could be run by Fred the drug dealer from down the street.

But how can you be sure you’re getting medicine from a trustworthy pharmacist and not Fred’s trench-coat? First and foremost, any legit pharmacy will require a prescription from your doctor. Yes, that means there are places online where people can get drugs without a prescription – however, if you care at all about your health, don’t try it. You’ll get counterfeit or contaminated drugs that can make you even sicker than before.

Also stay away from online pharmacies which have no contact phone number, are located in some remote part of Canada, and which aren’t licensed in the United States. Safe online pharmacies will always provide a physical US address and phone number, and they must have a license with your state board of pharmacy. Otherwise, you could be getting imported prescription drugs which aren’t FDA approved.  Say all you want about our country’s regulations, without them, the product or the prescription can kill you.

You should also be able to get answers straight from the pharmacist’s (virtual) mouth. Just like you can talk to your local Walgreen’s pharmacist, legitimate online pharmacies will always provide a licensed pharmacist to answer your questions.

And, like most things in life, the cheapest pharmacy isn’t always the best pharmacy. The medication is available at such a low price usually because something is wrong with it: it could have been stored improperly, is expired, is not potent enough, or it could even be too potent. What good is a discount if it kills you?

Finally, look for the VIPPS (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites) seal of approval. These sites have been thoroughly reviewed and credited by the NABP (National Association of Boards of Pharmacy) – and the NABP knows what it’s talking about when it comes to pharmacies.

Follow these tips so you don’t cough up your personal and financial information to fake online pharmacies!  Better be Safe than Sorry!!!

On Your Health,  Sufen Wang,  Wang Solutions

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month….

In Culture,Education,Family,Insurance & Liability on October 9, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , ,

Pay Attention!: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

 

Take a break from buying Halloween candy early (and eating it) and listen up, because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s no exaggeration to say that learning about breast cancer could end up saving your life or the life of someone you love.

 

Certain things increase the risk of breast cancer. Some are avoidable, such as obesity, alcohol, and exposure to radiation. So, stay far away from Halloween candy, Happy Hour, and anything with a nuclear symbol on it. However, other factors, such as estrogen and inherited risk, are unavoidable. That’s where protective factors come in. Exercising for at least four hours per week is the best thing you can do for your body, even if you’re not at a high risk for breast cancer.

 

Don’t go for a walk just yet though without reading further– unless you’re walking to your doctor’s office. Yup, get ready to bare those breasts, because women (especially over 40) need to get regular screenings for breast cancer. If cancer is found early, there’s a much better chance of successful treatment. That means there’s no excuse for not getting a mammogram every 1 to 2 years. And if you notice any strange lumps before your next mammogram, ask your doctor to do a clinical breast exam (CBE) immediately.

 

This year, an estimated 226,870 women and 2,190 men will be newly diagnosed with breast cancer. However, it’s important to remember that breast cancer can be treated, and there are many different options. Some of these include surgery, such as a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy, and even more treatments are being tested as we speak.

 

Your awareness of breast cancer shouldn’t stop once you stop reading this page. It’s your turn to spread the word. One way you can do that is with the Pink Ribbon Kit, which provides free (yes – free!) publications about mammography screenings. Or you can direct everyone you know to the MedlinePlus breast cancer page, which has a ton of resources to explore. Stay aware and stay healthy!

 

On Your Health, Sufen Wang, Wang Solutions

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Turn Off the TV and Video Games…

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Culture,Education,Entertainment,Family on September 21, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Kids.gov: Where Your Family Can Have Fun Learning!

Kids these days have it easy. Instead of learning about our government only from boring textbooks and worksheets, now kids get their very own government website. Not surprisingly, it’s called Kids.gov. However, don’t be fooled by the name: there’s something here for everyone.

That’s why the site is divided into three age categories: Kids (K-5), Teens (Grade 6-8), and Grown-Ups (Teachers/Parents). In the Kids’ area, there’s cool stuff like a down loadable “How to Become President of the U.S.” poster. If your six year old is really enthusiastic about becoming president, you can even order a free print copy.

Even better, Benjamin Franklin makes a special guest appearance on the Kids’ website with “Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government for Kids.” Using cartoons to help him, he explains everything from citizenship to how laws are made. Speaking of Founding Fathers, there’s also a “Constitution Day Activity” where you (and your child) can test your historical document trivia skills.

And this government site isn’t only about government. Kids can watch a video on the “Art of Video Games”, learn how to read music, learn how to read with Reading Planet, or create money with “Design Your Own Bill.” And whether your child wants to play a game about Colonial Williamsburg, acid rain, or washing their hands, Kids.gov has it.

The Teen section has many of the same activities, but also more complicated offerings, such as “Albert Einstein and the Theory of Relativity”, “Werner Heisenberg and the Uncertainty Principle”, algebra basics, and “Shakespeare Online.” Later, if your middle school student needs a break from all of that info, have them play “YouAreHere”, a virtual mall game that helps them become better shoppers.

Grown-ups can also learn a lot from Kids.gov. For example, “Distraction.gov” explains why it’s bad to text and drive. Some of the most popular Grown-Up pages are “Talking to Your Kids About Money” and “Helping Your Child Write a Book Report.” And if you’re hungry, check out “Thomas Jefferson – A Day in the Life – Ice Cream at Home Activity.” Although you might want to visit the “Nutrition and Fitness” page after eating.

Instead of letting your child watch TV all day, change things up a little and show them Kids.gov. It’s a safe place to learn and play!

On the Money, Sufen Wang, Wang Solutions

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Update Your Job Search Skills:

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Culture,Education,Human Resources on August 24, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Look Back at the “Summer Job Search Series”

Whether you’re a teen looking for a summer job, or a more “mature” individual who’s ready to leave the cubicle for greener pastures, the job application process remains the same. Accordingly, it’s always useful to take a refresher course in job search basics. Lucky for you, I posted a special Job Search Series last summer and have included some highlights below. Be sure to read the full posts for all the juicy bits.

Work on your resume before anything else. Keep in mind that you need to keep it clean: both in the sense of providing honest information about yourself and also presenting it in a clear, easy-to-read manner. Resumes usually garner only a 15-30 second scan, so you want your potential employer to see the best of you immediately.

Your cover letter is your resume’s best friend. You need a good cover letter if you want a potential employer to even glance at your resume. Keep it short and sweet, and sound both confident and gracious. Most importantly, research the company beforehand so you can show the employer that you’re familiar with their values.

If you passed the previous two tests, you can expect a phone interview. In fact, it’s crucial that you expect the phone call; otherwise, you’ll sound unprepared to the interviewer. Since you and the interviewer can’t see each other, pay attention to the tone and rhythm of the conversation. Speak loud and clear, be enthusiastic, and be articulate in your responses.

Next up is the job interview. Your goal is to convince the interviewer that you are technically qualified for the job and a good fit for the company’s culture. How do you do that? Practice a lot beforehand, arrive on time (and dressed professionally), make eye contact, sit up straight, and be positive. Additionally, know your resume like the back of your hand and be ready to explain anything and everything on it.

The finishing touch on the job application process is the thank you letter. Send a short note thanking the interviewer for their time as soon as possible after the interview. The note (e-mail is okay, but real paper is even better) will show that you’re courteous and set you one step above the candidates who didn’t send thank you letters. Your goal is to make yourself memorable. Remember that and you’ll be hired in no time!

On the Job Search!  Sufen Wang, Wang Solutions