Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

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No Need to Outsource…

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Culture,Education,Human Resources on August 6, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , ,

Keep it Local Like GreenJobInterview!

With the political arena heating up, you can’t turn on the TV without hearing a debate about this domestic issue or that foreign policy. One hot topic is outsourcing: should we outsource the jobs overseas, or hire independent contractors to get tasks done, instead of hiring employees? A little BIG company in Costa Mesa, CA came up with a better answer. GreenJobInterview (www.greenjobinterview.com) decided to think inside the box and recently established its own 25-seat call center in its own office, with its own employees as customer service representatives!

GreenJobInterview has only been around since 2007, but it’s already been good for the environment and good for businesses. The company offers a live virtual interviewing platform via the internet for employers across the country and around the world. Instead of flying in potential candidates who, after all, might not be hired, recruiters from companies of all sizes use GreenJobInterview’s technology to conduct interviews with just a few mouse-clicks. And instead of traveling back and forth for a first interview, then a second interview, etc., a job candidate simply has to log on to his/her computer – preferably wearing something dressier than pajamas.

The job candidate sets up a webcam with the help of GreenJobInterview’s customer service representatives, and is trained over the phone on the interviewing process. The recruiter schedules the interview, and presto, recruiter and candidate are talking virtual face-to-virtual face.  No rushing around on planes, trains, and automobiles, and Mother Nature gets to breathe easier as a result.

Earlier this year, Theo Rokos and Greg Rokos, the CEO and President of GreenJobInterview reached an important crossroads in their enterprise: should they expand their customer service department to a full-service,24/7 call center in-house, or outsource it overseas or to another local firm? After much debate, they decided to invest in their own call center, hiring their own employees as customer service representatives for GreenJobInterview.

The best part of this company’s success and expansion is that Greg and Theo chose to invest in-house. Because of their decision, they generated employment in this depressed economy and spent money locally on the workstations, telephone systems, furniture, fixtures,etc. This small BIG decision is practically unheard of nowadays, and should be looked upon as a model to be followed.

Today, 25-seat Call Center, tomorrow 250-seat!  Two Thumbs Up for GreenJobInterview.com.
Eye on GreenJobInterview.com, Sufen Wang, Wang Solutions

Articles

Get a Summer Job!

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Culture,Education,Family,Insurance & Liability on July 31, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

At first, working during the summer sounds awful to most young adults. Then they usually stop complaining when their first paycheck arrives. However, they usually start complaining again once they realize that with income, comes taxes.

Meet Form W-4: Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. This form is used by employers to determine the amount of tax that will be withheld from your paychecks to cover your income tax liability. You, along with everybody else, must fill out a W-4 when you start a new job – even if you work at that job for just one day.

Maybe you were lucky and found work as a waiter. Dealing with customers is difficult, but it also means you can get extra money from tips, and who’s going to say no to free,extra money? Unfortunately, you can’t just pocket your tips and forget about them– all tips you receive are taxable income which you must report. 

Perhaps you decide you want to be your own boss for the summer. You start doing odd jobs around town: babysitting, mowing your friend’s dad’s lawn, walking your neighbor’spoodle up and down the street. Congratulations on being a young entrepreneur,but the earnings you receive from self-employment are still subject to income tax. And if you end up mowing a lot of lawns and make $400 or more from self-employment, you’ll have to pay a self-employment tax.

If you get a job as paperboy (or girl), at least you’ll be done with work by the time most of America wakes up for work. And teens have special rules when it comes to federal taxes. Because newspaper deliverers are generally treated as self-employed, they have to pay the self-employment tax. However, if you’reunder 18, and you don’t meet all of the carrier self-employment conditions, you are exempt from that tax.

Everyone has to start working at some point. If you have nothing do this summer except wait for school to start, then you might as well start mowing some lawns! 

On the Money,

Sufen Wang

Wang Solutions

Articles

H20 – 101:

In Culture,Education,Family on July 29, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , ,

Stay Smart about Water Safety

It’s summer. Which means it’s hot. Which means people like to go swimming. Which means people should brush-up on their water safety knowledge. Especially since drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death in the U.S.

It might seem obvious, but a major factor in drowning is not being able to swim. That refers to both children and adults. So guys, drop the macho man act, and don’t pretend you can swim if you can’t. There’s a reason why nearly 80% of people who drown are male.

This might also be news to some men out there: alcohol impairs both your motor abilities and motor boating abilities, and the sun heightens its effects. Alcohol is a factor in 70% of water recreation death sand it causes at least 1 in 5 boating fatalities. Water + heat + alcohol = one dangerous cocktail.  

Children are another group at risk, and 1 in 5 people who die from drowning are age 14 or younger. This is often due to lack of close supervision: leaving the kids alone in the pool for a minute is putting their lives at risk for a minute. There also needs to be a four-sided fence around water areas, such as your home pool, to keep out curious kids – and all kids are curious! 

You can prevent the worst from happening before you head out on the water. Take swimming lessons first. Check the forecast and if the weather looks stormy, postpone your day at the beach. If you see a rip tide, don’t even risk it.  (Rip Tide Safety Tip)  And don’t swim alone – pick a buddy and keep an eye on each other.

Life jackets got that name for a reason – they’re jackets that save your life. At least half of all boating deaths would not have been deaths if the victims had been wearing life jackets.  Yes, we know that wearing a life jacket may spoil your fashion style.  But put common sense over fashion sense and put on that puffy, orange jacket; it may be the best outfit you will ever wear in your life time!

If worse does come to worst, be prepared. Stop saying that you’ll learn CPR someday and take a class today, before you go to the lake. You won’t regret it.
On the Summer Fun,
Sufen Wang
Wang Solutions

Articles

Disability Employment App Challenge:

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

Help People and Win Cash Prizes!

After seeing those government apps last week, do you feel inspired to create your own? Well, now is the perfect time to start working! The Department of Labor is offering $10,000 in CASH prizes for the best apps that help promote the employment of people with disabilities. 

That’s because disabled individuals have a higher unemployment rate and a lower labor force participation rate than everybody else. Your job is to build an app that changes this. Sound like a big project? Luckily, there are specific guidelines to keep you focused.

They want your app to achieve at least one of these goals (but feel free to be an overachiever and accomplish all of these things):

-Promote recruitment resources for employers.

-Develop job-training and skill-building tools for job seekers.

-Facilitate employment-related transportation options.

-Expand web and Information Communication Technology accessibility. 

It would be a good idea to use technology that makes your app accessible for people with disabilities, and to keep in mind that all different kinds of people will be using the app differently. The rest is up to you to be creative. Your submission can be designed for internet browsers, smart phones, feature phones,or as Windows or Macintosh applications. It can be a game, a social network, or anything else you can think of. But get thinking, because you only have until August 23rd to submit!

If your app is good enough, you could win the $5,000 Innovation Award Grand Prize, the $3,000 second place People’s Choice Award(voted on by the public), or the $2,000 third place Above and Beyond Accessibility Award. Of course, it’s nice to win a one-time prize, but it’s even nicer that your tool will work every day to help find people work. For full details on the contest,head over to the Disability Employment App Challenge site.

 
Eye on the Prize!
Sufen Wang
Wang Solutions

Articles

Manage Your Debt (Collectors)

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Education,Taxes on July 17, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , ,

Got debt? Don’t fret, there are ways to get through it. If you can’t make the payments, call your creditors right now –seriously – and try to set up a modified payment plan before the collectors arrive.

However, if your accounts are past the point of no return, don’t let the debt collectors be bullies. While they are allowed to contact you in-person, by mail, telephone, fax, or telegram (you probably won’t be getting a telegram anytime soon), there are some boundaries they can’t legally cross.  

Unless you need a wake-up call, collectors can’t ring you before 8 a.m. They also can’t call after 9 p.m. That means you only have to screen phone calls for thirteen (13) hours during the day.

If you do happen to pick up, and it’s a collector on the other end instead of your grandma, he can’t use any language he wouldn’t use in front of his grandma – meaning, no bad words. And collectors can’t harass any third parties they contact about you, such as your grandma.

This might sound untruthful, but your debt collector will be the most honest person you meet. Or at least, he should be. That’s because collectors can’t lie to you about anything. Accordingly, they can’t make up scary stories about what will happen to you if you don’t pay. You’re dealing with debt, not the mafia… well…. for those of you who do deal with the mafia and loan-sharks or alike, not much I can help you there… you are on your own on this one.

Anyway, hey, you can kill two debt birds with one stone by going to work. Well, there’s an idea…  Not only will you make money to pay off your bills, collectors also can’t call your workplace if your employer doesn’t allow it. However, if you really want collectors to quit calling you, you’ll have to go more old school than telegrams: you need to send them a letter saying stop calling.

You don’t need collectors to constantly remind you that you owe money – you already know that. Getting them off your back will let you focus on budgeting, saving, and spending wisely on living essentials. If you do those things, soon you’ll be calling the collectors to make payments.  Yes, make payments…. you did borrow the funds, and you used the money without anyone forcing you to do so; therefore, pay the debt that you incurred and owed, do the right thing!   Make a payment plan with your collector and slowly, but surely, you will catch up!

 

On the Money,
Sufen Wang
Wang Solutions

Articles

A Foreign Affair Close to Home:

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Culture,Education,Taxes on July 9, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , ,

U.S. SEC Takes Action against Shanghai-Based Accounting Firm 

The world got a good look at American business’ bad side from 2001-2002, and boy, was it ugly. The Enron (now synonymous with corruption), Worldcom, and Tyco scandals made it clear that big corporations and accounting firms needed to bring their ethic sup to code. But first, that code had to be brought up to date.

That’s exactly what the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 did: it established new and improved standards for U.S. business practices. Companies could no longer pretend they didn’t know something wrong was going on and they would be held accountable for their “oversights.”

Or at least that’s what was supposed to happen. Welcome to 2012, where several Chinese companies listed on the U.S. stock exchange appear to have slipped-up in their accounting.  And the foreign accounting firms that audit these companies – in other words, the people who should be reporting any suspicious financial activity – have been less than forthcoming with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  

For example, a Shanghai-based firm, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, has been withholding some very important papers from the SEC. One of the firm’s clients, a Chinese company that trades in the U.S., is under investigation. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act says that the accounting firm must provide the SEC with any documents relating to this suspected, U.S.-based company. 

That’s nice, but Deloitte said they gave the documents to the Chinese Securities Regulatory Authority (CSRA), and it was up to the SEC and CSRA to figure things out. That didn’t happen and when the SEC asked for the work papers again, Deloitte said nope. Accordingly, the SEC is charging Deloitte with violating the Sarbanes-Oxley Act provision.

This administrative action comes at an inopportune time for the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), an agency created by the Act specifically to oversee U.S. accounting firms in their auditing duties, as well as the auditors of any U.S. listed companies – i.e. Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. Chinese officials had not previously allowed inspectors this crucial access, but the PCAOB was on the very brink of working out an agreement.

That possibility of observing audit inspections in China could be in jeopardy due to the SEC’s aggressive move. Now the million– and what could end up as the billion – dollar question is what should the U.S.government do? What can the government do? Should U.S. law be imposed onto the Chinese? What about accounting laws in China? Should the U.S. be following their laws as well? It’s an international nightmare with no easy answers.  

 

On the Money,

Sufen Wang

Wang Solutions

Articles

Government On-The-Go:

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Culture,Education,Entertainment,Family,Human Resources on July 8, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , ,

Mobile Apps for Every Occasion

Poke. Poke. Poke. Need a break from Facebook during your lunch break? Put your smart phone and mind to better use by trying out the apps your government has to offer. Oh yeah, they’re all free, so you’ve got nothing to lose.

While not everyone will find all these government apps useful, there’s something useful for everyone. For example, it’s unlikely that a teenager would scramble to download the “Budget of the U.S. Governmentapp, which provides info from the FY13 Budget book, or the “House and Senate Member Guide,” which offers a picture directory of every single Member of the 112th Congress. Exciting?! Eh?!

However, if that high school student forgot to do their homework, they might want to download “Science.gov Mobile” to find quick answers to all their science questions. Or if they think they’re too cool for school, tell them to download “SatelliteInsight” – it looks like a video game, but it really teaches kids about NASA’s GOES-R,the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, R series. If you don’t know what that is, then get the app too!

Of course, many of the apps are perfect for the average, working American. First, check the forecast with the “National Weather Service.” Then, when you make it to work and start to feel claustrophobic in your cubicle, whip out the “Tactical Breather” app and gain control over your stress level. If that doesn’t help, and you need a cigarette, use the “QuitSTART” app to become tobacco free. When you’re done for the day, use “DOL-Timesheet” to record the hours you worked. If your boss doesn’t pay up, you can always use the “USAJOBS” app to find federal employment.

Admittedly, some apps are very strange. The “MojaveDesert Tortoise” application allows you to upload a photo, take a survey, and find out more info if you happen to encounter this threatened species in the middle of the desert. Though, you’ll probably be more concerned with finding water than taking pictures.

There’s a lot more where these came from. Be aware that some apps were designed only for the iPhone, some only for Android,etc., so pick those compatible with your device. Now all you need is an app for finding apps.

On the Apps,
Sufen Wang
Wang Solutions

Articles

Hosting an Exchange Student?

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Culture,Education,Family,Taxes on June 25, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: ,

Don’t Expect the IRS to Help Much!

School’s out for summer and students across the country get to sleep in and watch cartoons. However, summer is also the time when foreign exchange students get ready to travel and arrange their fall residence with their foreign hosts. If you’re thinking of being a host, you might want to do some homework, especially on how much tax relief (or how little) you’ll get from the IRS.  

$50! That’s the MAXIMUM amount a taxpayer who hosts a foreign exchange student can deduct from his/her federal income tax as a “charitable contribution in qualifying expenses per month for maintaining the student.” If you buy the kid a pair of sneakers, you’ve already spent more than your deduction. And let’s just say that the IRS doesn’t make it easy to get even this small amount.

No frat boys, sorority girls, or any college students for that matter. To get the tax relief, the student you host must be a full-time 12th grader (or lower) in a U.S. school. And don’t try to pass your teenage son off as an exchange student, although he might seem like a stranger to you.  The person you host can’t be a dependent or a relative. Most restrictively, the student must live in your home “under a written agreement between the taxpayer and a qualified organization as part of the organization’s program to provide the student with educational opportunities.” These are only the key limitations, so be sure to check out the IRS publication for more fine print.

Luckily, lots of expenses count towards the deduction: the cost of books, food, clothing, transportation, entertainment,etc. We all know that teenagers hate books, but they love food, clothing, and especially entertainment, and so you’ll probably hit the $50 mark the first day your exchange student arrives. Just keep reminding yourself that $50 per month is as much as you’re going to get back from the IRS.

And it doesn’t look like that amount is going to be raised anytime soon. Back in 2005 a bill was introduced to increase the deduction to $200 per month, but the bill flopped. So if you’re going to be hosting an exchange student, don’t do it for the money. Do it because it’s agreat learning experience for everyone involved!

 

On the Money,
Sufen Wang
Wang Solutions

 

Articles

The Joy of Adoption:

In Accounting & Finances,Culture,Education,Family,Taxes on March 30, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Now with an Added Bonus from the IRS

Have you read the tabloids lately? Brangelina is having another baby! No, not adoption this time, but for those adoptive parents out there who need extra money, here are some IRS tips on taxes and credits.
 
With adoption, comes responsibility – and lots of bills. Luckily, if you paid expenses to adopt an eligible child in 2011, you have even more to be excited about than just a new member of your household. Say hello to an expanded adoption credit. The Affordable Care Act increased the credit to a maximum $13,360 and made it refundable. In other words, you can get the adoption credit as a tax refund even after your tax liability has been reduced to zero.
 
Of course, there’s always fine print when money is at stake. While you may consider the Chihuahua you rescued from the animal shelter to be your baby, the IRS defines an eligible child as “under 18 years old, or physically or mentally incapable of caring for himself or herself.” And those expenses don’t refer to the big screen TV you bought on the way to the courthouse. They mean adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees – basically all the “reasonable and necessary expenses” directly related to the legal adoption. One more qualification: if you are rich like (Brangelina), then you are out of luck. Anybody with a modified AGI of $225,210 or higher cannot receive the credit.
 
Unfortunately, getting the credit requires actual paperwork. Yes, you read that right. You must file a paper tax return, Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses, and attach documents supporting the adoption. No, a hand-written note on a piece of binder paper doesn’t count as a supporting document. The IRS wants you to include stuff like a final adoption decree or a placement agreement from an authorized agency. All of this doesn’t mean you can’t use IRS Free File or other software to prepare your returns first. However, you must eventually print your returns and mail them if you want the IRS to show you the money.

So, for those of you with a big heart and an ache to have children running around the house, adopt away!  Hope this article helps the road to adoption a little easier….

On the Money,
Sufen Wang
Wang Solutions
 

 

Articles

Happy New Year! Again! 新年快樂! 恭賀新禧!

In Culture,Education,Entertainment on January 22, 2012 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , ,

新年快樂!  恭賀新禧!
 
The Year of the Dragon is upon us!  Let’s take a break from numbers and taxes – at least for a little while – and welcome the Dragon. Although New Year’s Eve is January 22nd, Chinese New Year is actually celebrated for fifteen days! The first three days are the most important and then a huge party on the fifteenth day ends the New Year celebration with a bang.
 
The house needs a thorough cleaning before the party starts – it’s bad luck to clean during the first three days of the New Year. Always sweeps inward in order to sweep good fortune inside. The house décor will feature a lot of the color red, and small red envelopes filled with $1 or $2 should be scattered around. It’s bad luck to enter a new year with empty rice containers, so don’t forget to head to the market for a refill. While you’re there, pick up some fresh offerings, such as oranges, apples, orchids, etc. for the various Gods, especially the Buddha. On the way back, make sure you wash your car and fill up the gas tank.  
 
 
Similar to Thanksgiving, family members travel home to celebrate Chinese New Year’s Eve together. This holiday is especially important because it is the only time off for most factory workers in China. The traditional dinner includes all food groups, but the principal entrée is fish. Warning: never finish the fish dish, even if it’s delicious! You must have some leftover (savings) to carry food and fortune from the old year into the new year. Indeed, the pronunciation of the word “fish” in Chinese is actually the same as that of “leftover” or “save more.” 
 
Gambling usually starts after New Year’s Eve dinner, with the most popular activities being Mahjong and dice games. Next, remember those red envelopes that were left lying around the house? Well, more of these are given out from married adults to younger children and are filled with crisp, new bills. If you are single, no matter how old you are, you get a pass on handing them out; most likely you will still receive the red envelopes from your parents. By the way, the money from these red envelopes generally exchanges from hand to hand via gambling winnings and losses throughout the night…  Finally, the New Year’s Eve evening is topped off with fireworks at midnight.
 
With New Year’s Day comes freshly-prepared food. Although the dinner from the night before might look perfect for a rumbling tummy, it’s bad luck to eat the New Year’s Eve leftovers. Throughout the day, more red envelopes and food are shared with extended relatives and friends. You never know who will come visit with their children, so always have backup red envelopes. This goes on for three days…seriously, three days! 
 
Chinese New Year celebrations end on February 6, 2012 and all of the family members gather together one more time before the new year officially gets underway. But what does the Year of the Dragon actually mean for you? The Dragon historically brings water, so keep your umbrella handy and your galoshes ready throughout 2012. Legend also has it that the Dragon is coated with a mysterious color that makes it unpredictable and untouchable, and thus, something unexpected could happen in 2012. Finally, the Year of the Dragon will be marked by “excitement, exhilaration, and intensity,” so put on some red clothes for good luck and get ready for a great year!
 
Happy New Year!
新年快樂!  恭賀新禧!
Sufen Wang
Wang Solutions