This course is the first course in a five-course US Federal Tax Specialization. It covers and focuses on the U.S. federal tax system as it relates to individuals, employees, and sole proprietors. Key concepts covered include gross income and items that are statutorily included or excluded in it, personal and business expenses that qualify as tax deductions, and the differing tax treatments for employees versus self-employed taxpayers. Unlike many other introductory courses in tax and as part of this course’s comprehensive wrap-up, learners will be provided with practical and tangible experience reporting both income and expenses on the main individual tax return used in the US, Form 1040.
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INTRODUCTION TO THE COURSE In this module, you will become familiar with the course, your instructor and your classmates, and our learning environment. This orientation will also help you obtain the technical skills required to navigate and be successful in this course.
MODULE 1: AN INTRODUCTION TO TAXATION In this module, you will be introduced to the different kinds of taxes faced by U.S. Taxpayers and the U.S. Federal income tax structure. The origin of tax law and its constitutionality is discussed along with a brief history of the different changes in rates that have occurred since the 16th amendment was passed. Finally, we will discover what the three different sources of new tax laws are.
MODULE 2: COMPUTING THE TAX In this module, we will take a deeper dive into each part of the U.S. Federal income tax structure, with a focus on what is included in Gross Income. We will learn how for-AGI deductions reduce gross income to generate Adjusted Gross Income, or AGI, and why AGI is an important number which determines the floors and ceilings of many from-AGI deductions. We will also discuss exemptions, and the rules for claiming Personal and Dependency Exemptions. We will wrap up the module with a discussion of the actual calculation of the tax as well as the filing status and the filing requirements.
MODULE 3: GROSS INCOME In this module, you will take a deeper dive into gross income, specifically regarding statutory inclusions. Congress, the Courts, and the IRS have specific rules on how certain income items are included as gross income. These rules provide clarification in situations where it is unclear whether money or property received should actually be included as income, such as unemployment compensation or social security benefits.
MODULE 4: GROSS INCOME: EXCLUSIONS In this module, you will take a deeper dive into gross income, specifically regarding statutory exclusions. Congress, the Courts, and the IRS allow exclusions of money or property received by the taxpayer for various reasons.
MODULE 5: DEDUCTIONS AND LOSSES: IN GENERAL In this module, you will learn about deductions, which is the term used in tax to describe an expense that is allowed to reduce a taxpayer’s tax liability. You will discover what Adjusted Gross Income is, why it is important, and how to calculate it. You will also learn the proper tax treatment of semi-profitable activities, such as hobbies.
MODULE 6: DEDUCTIONS AND LOSSES: ITEMIZED VS BUSINESS In this module, we turn our focus to expenses that qualify as from AGI deductions, also known as itemized deductions. We will wrap up the module by discussing some unique situations where deduction treatment is an exception to the general rules, such as losses on securities or the artificial deduction of the Domestic Production and Activities Deduction (DPAD), both of which are actually allowed to be taken as for AGI deductions.
MODULE 7: DEDUCTIONS: EMPLOYEE AND SELF-EMPLOYED EXPENSES In this module, we discuss several unique situations where the same expense may or may not be deductible, dependent on the facts and circumstances surrounding the situation. To finish off this module, we’ll switch back to discussing income and situations where taxpayers can elect to delay recognition of income, such as saving for retirement, as well as situations where taxation of the annual earnings of those retirement savings are either deferred or permanently excluded from income.
MODULE 8: COMPREHENSIVE EXAMPLE In this module, you will review the Comprehensive Example video and then learn to apply the concepts to a tax return problem.
MOOCs stand for Massive Open Online Courses. These arefree online courses from universities around the world (eg. StanfordHarvardMIT) offered to anyone with an internet connection.
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To register for a course, click on "Go to Class" button on the course page. This will take you to the providers website where you can register for the course.
How do these MOOCs or free online courses work?
MOOCs are designed for an online audience, teaching primarily through short (5-20 min.) pre recorded video lectures, that you watch on weekly schedule when convenient for you. They also have student discussion forums, homework/assignments, and online quizzes or exams.