Choosing the Best Tax Preparation Service for You

Making sure you have paid the government what you owe is important. If you do not, you could face serious fines or even jail time. If you aren’t comfortable doing the paperwork yourself, you should find a tax preparation service to do it for you. How do you choose the right one?

Ask About Continuing Education

The IRS has instituted the Annual Filing Season Program, which is a voluntary continuing education program. It is open to any preparer, but it is targeted for those who don’t get their credentials through professional associations. Before you hire someone to prepare your return, check to see what certifications they hold and if they are taking continuing education courses.

Ask About Preparer Tax Identification Number and Who Signs the Return

When you are trying to determine who should work on your IRS forms, ask about their PTIN. This number must be valid in order to prepare federal paperwork legally for compensation. You don’t want to find out after the fact that they don’t have a number or it’s not valid for the year.

Because the PTIN is so important, be sure to ask who is going to be signing the return. Don’t work with a person who refuses to sign. You should also be wary of any company that won’t tell you in advance who is going to be working on your paperwork.

Ask What Type of Returns They Usually Prepare

It’s no secret that there are many different types of tax forms. You may only be familiar with the one you have to file each year. The same can be said for some certified public accountants. A long time handler, however, will be familiar with a wide array of forms. Don’t be afraid to ask if the person is familiar with the documents you need.

Ask About Knowledge of State and Local Requirements

It sounds like a given that your preparer should know the requirements for the state you’re in. However, if you have recently moved to a different state, you may still have to file in your former home state. Because requirements vary from each state, your tax preparation specialist may not know all the laws of the other state. This is an important question to ask if you’ve recently moved.

Tax preparation is a big job. You need to find someone who can handle all the paperwork both legally and efficiently.

The Best Kept Secrets to Making More Tips for Waiters, Bartenders, and Baristas

When it comes to a career in the service industry, no matter how short or long-lived, one of the most advantageous things you can learn to do ASAP is how to pull people’s emotional and unconscious heartstrings.

But before you think I’m some manipulative monster just trying to turn the world upside down to objectify patrons, guests, and customers for your own selfish, worldly gain- just hear me out.

If you plan on waiting tables, serving drinks, or tending bar, then you already know that the key to making money is in the extra stuff you do to stimulate all who cross your path and pull out their wallets to pay the check. Therefore, it becomes a must that you start to understand human psychology right away for not only your own benefit, but for the enjoyment of the guest as well.

There’s Nothing Selfish About Making More Tips

First, let’s get the idea that money is bad out of our heads. In these days and times of crony capitalism and rabid politicians talking out of both sides of their mouth about social programs, while selling out to big corporations to stay in office, the concept of having more as being a positive thing gets drowned out by all the social justice static.

You don’t think that’s by coincidence, do you? After all, what if most people bucked the elites attempting to program us all to accept less in life?

While the answer to that question is beyond the scope of this article, it’s important to accept that money is a means of exchange, and when people spend more, and tip more, they are merely exchanging value for value.

You provide value to a guest when you make their coffee taste great, bring that sizzling steak cooked to perfection on time to the table, and when you make that specialty cocktail that makes them do a backflip and believe that good times are here again.

When you “go the extra mile” (I know, it sounds terribly cliché), what you are doing is adding value to the guest experience, and believe it or not, most of the time humans will reciprocate more value when they perceive they themselves are receiving added value.

Examples of Adding Value to the Guest Experience

There are literally an infinite number of possibilities and ideas that you can come up with on your own to enhance the guest experience and wow them into pouring out their wallet as if they are anointing you as the new emperor of hospitality, but let’s drop a few solid ideas right here and now to get your own creative juices flowing.

1. Artistry is always appreciated.

I was once at a Starbucks in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, the 2nd biggest city on the island, walking across town and having a pretty abysmal day. When I ordered my drink that day, the young ladies working behind the counter were not only super nice and polite, but when I sat down upstairs to sip my beverage I noticed a drawing on the side of the cup.

Not only was it hilarious and heartwarming to me, it really made me appreciate the cultural experience of being a guy with a strangely massive beard in a land of scarce beards having his own self-portrait scribbled with a Sharpie on the side of a plastic cup of tea. Is this how they viewed me? I felt kind of like a zoo animal, but in a good way. The resemblance was uncanny, and I have to admit I will never forget it.

2. What’s in a name?

Finding a way to use a person’s name, whether audibly or by writing it on the guest’s check, is a great way to increase the psychological closeness the guest has with you, while at the same time without being too creepy.

As human beings with feelings, we all want to be validated, even in the smallest ways. For those of us who live in a large metropolis, we may not get the deep emotional connection that people in smaller towns who see each other regularly do.

That’s why when you can call someone by their name in a kind, loving and respectful manner, they will unconsciously feel more connected and special. The hardest part is finding out their name without being too obtrusive, but I knew servers who were good at this when I waited tables. I myself would get their name from their credit card, write their name with a smiley face saying a big “Thank you!”, and then usually try to drop the check and say their name and thank them.

I regularly got 18% – 20% tips just from my style of service, and I am a pretty introverted, procedurally-minded kind of guy at the restaurant.

3. Do you want fries with that?

The practice of fast food workers asking people if they’d like fries or to upsize has no doubt made people fatter, and corporate food chains wealthier, but there’s something we can learn from this.

When you ask a guest if they’d like to add something, often times they will say no, but imagine you work at a nice restaurant and they order a steak, and then you ask if they’d like it “Oscar style” i.e. topped with jumbo lump crab meat. Now you are giving them the opportunity to have more when perhaps they were unaware they could even have a steak topping, or maybe they were unsure and just needed that extra gentle push to overcome their inner objections.

Remember, most of us are creatures of habit, and while we want to try something new and improved, we may require a little encouragement from an outside source.

Be yourself, but if you’re having a bad day, be someone else.

“Be yourself” is fine if you are having a great day, but what about when your day is a disaster and you feel like a cup of warm dishwater?

It’s simple, you “fake it ’til you make it”. Remember, we all have bad days, but just like you don’t want to be the recipient of someone’s emotional venting just because you need to send a package at FedEx, the same goes for the person patronizing your place of work.

What can you do? It’s simple, try to forget you for a while. Stop thinking about your feelings and the problems in your life and focus simply on putting on a smile (even a forced one will eventually relax into a real one), and keep the guest’s experience your top priority.

If you really want to get creative, you can come up with an alter ego like “Sasha Fierce”, the concept Beyoncé uses before she performs at a concert or big show.

The last word on making more money as a bartender, waiter, or barista

It’s easy to assume that the most successful people are extroverts, naturally charismatic, charming, and lucky, and, to a large extent, that’s true.

But even if you are a naturally quiet, shy, introverted person like me, you can still find ways to make your guest feel special and cared for, and this will logically lead to more money for you as you continue to provide the very best service to everyone who walks through your establishment’s doors.

Good luck, and here’s to you making more tips!

"Success" and Education

“The man who graduates today and stops learning tomorrow is uneducated the day after.” – Newston D. Baker

The prospect of success is what drives many people to continue their education. Whether this success means the expansion of their person, the opening of their mind to possibilities, the sharpening of their skill set, building marketability, or a pay raise – higher education is considered by most to be a very valuable asset. The implications are many: you have dedicated a portion of your life to studying a particular subject, and so have gained specialized knowledge and skills; you most likely have incurred some debt; and somehow, you are now supposed to be prepared to take on the world. But are the students of today prepared for life? Are they ready and equipped with what they need to be successful?

Everyone has an idea of what “success” means. And the general idea probably looks pretty similar for most – someone doing well overall; emotionally, financially, and spiritually. They probably have a good job, a good head on their shoulders, money in their pocket, and a good future ahead of them. They are moving along in their life, and they appear happy and fulfilled.

Although up front this dream may appear rather simple, figuring out the specifics, or one’s own path to reaching such success, is the real challenge. What decisions must be made so that one can have a successful life? Does education today prepare students to answer these difficult life questions?

Education blogger Tom Whitby touches on the lack of focus in K-12 schools on critical and out-of-the box thinking in this era of standardizing testing. “We talk about personalized learning for each student… We recognize that all kids are created differently. Even in consideration of all that, we standardize their assessment… We are not matching up the skills that our children will need in a future that we know little about to the education we provide today. Yet, we still claim to be preparing kids for life.”

“We cannot continue on the current path of education if we want to prepare our children for their future,” he declares. “Our children will not live in the world that we grew up in. We need to prepare them to be flexible, critical thinking, problem solvers. They need to be able to get beyond the limitations of their teachers and parents.”

In Alain de Botton’s TED talk “A kinder, gentler philosophy of success,” Botton points out that our ideas of success are often greatly influenced by society, by ads, and by our parents, and that we are highly susceptible to suggestion. We are also, Botton says, very worried about what others think of us.

“When we think about failing in life, when we think about failure, one of the reasons why we fear failing is not just a loss of income, a loss of status. What we fear is the judgment and ridicule of others. And it exists,” Botton said.

Botton suggests that we take care to ensure that our ambitions are our own, and that we recognize that “success” cannot exist without “failure.”

A paradox in our society, Botton continued, is the simultaneous existence of both the belief that we are all equal – that anyone can achieve anything – and low self-esteem. Suicide rates, he explains, are higher in the developed countries than anywhere else in the world. “[S]ome of the reason for that is that people take what happens to them extremely personally. They own their success. But they also own their failure,” he said. Our society, furthermore, and now more then ever before, attributes success to one’s own work ethic, ability, and determination; we believe that people deserve the lives they have, because we are all supposed to be in the driving seat.

In other words, we are supposed to have all that we need to succeed. However, disparities, gaps, influences, and circumstance, all exist and perpetuate inequalities within our society, and the individual is not always in control. We are not all on an equal playing field, either; we do not all have equal opportunities. This is not an excuse, but something that deserves consideration and care. America will continue to work towards the dream of a meritocratic society, but this dream is impossible to fully realize.

“The idea that we will make a society where literally everybody is graded, the good at the top, and the bad at the bottom, and it’s exactly done as it should be, is impossible,” Botton said.

It has been said that education is the great equalizer. And I believe that education can change the world, and our future is dependent on the youth and the quality of their education. Education can help people find their success because it can open their minds to the world and to their own potential so that they can have the opportunity to choose their way. But what can we do from here?

Continue to grow. Continue to move. Know that moving and growing is the only way. Not look back. Be bold. Instruction may end in the school-room, as Frederick W. Robertson said, but “education ends only with life.” And John Dewey concurs: “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself,” he said. If these things are true, then success is not immediate, nor something that can immediately follow formal education either, but can be found only in the outcome of the entirety of our lives and the completion of our journeys. Education is a form of success on its own, and leads to more successes, but only if we choose to own our own person and lives, and accept our “successes” and “failures.” “You can’t be successful at everything,” Botton said. “You can’t have it all… [A]ny vision of success has to admit what it’s losing out on, where the element of loss is.”

School can’t prepare someone for all that will come, or give them direct answers for what choices they should make. Formal education is only a beginning. We don’t always know where we are going, and we can never know all that lies ahead of us, but we must continue moving forward and becoming the people we want to be. The paths will unfold as we face the challenges and are open to what may come. And if we get through all of that, we will have succeeded – in living.

Education Requirements For Aspiring Electricians

Becoming an electrician is not that easy because there are several requirements one has to fulfill in order to legally practice this job. Electricians do various things from installing electrical wirings to handling heavy equipment. Also, they can do maintenance or construction, or even both. If you want to pursue this job, you must have the following requirements at the very least.

Important Qualifications That You Need to Fulfill

A person wanting to become an electrician needs to be a graduate from a secondary school and must have a high-school diploma. In addition, you must have knowledge in technical drawing and mathematics, since having this job will require you to do computations and draw blueprints. You also need to attend courses provided by technical and vocational schools that teach about electrical concepts and theories. Attending these schools will give you more grasp on electrical codes implemented in your country as well as knowledge about power distribution concept.

Acquiring apprenticeship is also a requirement for this job. Any aspiring electrician has to undergo on-the-job training from a registered school or an experienced and licensed electrical professional. This training is tied up with classroom instruction that should be completed for a specified number of hours, depending on the country or state where you decide to take the course. During training, budding electricians learn about the techniques used in the trade. However, before you qualify for it, you must be 18 years old, have a high-school diploma, passed an aptitude test and drug testing. Apprentices can be given a portion of the standard salary received by an electrician during the training, and they can be lucky to gain a job right after.

Continuing Education

In order to increase salary rate, an electrician should continuously update his knowledge about the trade. An electrician should take further education and training on electrical codes and installation. Continuing education will allow electrician to update their knowledge on the latest electrical technologies used today. In addition that, participating in trainings and seminars will help them boost their skills and widen their knowledge. An electrician can also continue his education by taking manufacturer-specific training, safety programs and management training courses.

Electrician Schools

Fortunately, there are now plenty of schools offering short and long-term electrical courses to students who aspire to work in this kind of trade. Though most schools pretty much have the same requirements when it comes to enrollment, there are some that are quite strict as to the students that will be allowed to qualify to participate in this kind of course. That being said, you have to find all the requirements needed in a particular electrician school that you want to enroll in to ensure that you will qualify for admission. Doing so will help you save time, money and effort.

Remember that even the best electrical professionals, like the Atlanta electrician or Boston electrician, all went to school so they will be able to be efficient in their job to ensure that their customers are satisfied with the kind of service that they are offering them.

Language Policy History in China

Colonialism would better explain the foundation of the present Chinese language policy. The system was established to attain specific goals that comprised improved national unity, economy development, and lowered levels of illiteracy.

Notably, before the twentieth century, the Chinese governments did not realize the language challenges which were a source of economy deterioration to China Later in 1949 the communist government promoted the linguistic policies which supported only báihuà as the common language. Also, the Putonghua language was curtailed the same time. In the mid-1950s, minor actions were done to reform the language. In October 1955, the National Script reform Congress discussed on the modifications simplification of the ancient logographic script and the ways to boost national language studies. The common language was described as Putonghua.

In 1956, the Chinese state ordered the teaching of the Mandarin Chinese in learning institutions. In fact, it gave clear illustrations of how to this would be effectively implemented. Such effort did not succeed as it stopped during the inception of the Cultural Revolution. The variation of the writing system was the primary concern of the Committee on Script Reform where the initial step occurred in 1956 that ensured publication of 515 characters. It needed either simplification alphabetization, or latinization.

According to DeFrancis, language policy in China has been identified by status, corpus and acquisition planning dimensions. Notably, the status plan describes the strategies that allocate the functions of the language for a community speech. On the other hand, corpus planning deals with the availability of the literacies forms while acquisition planning illustrates the creation of opportunities and incentives for learners to obtain new languages. The situation offers an appropriate interaction between the Chinese and foreign countries effectively.

Significantly, Liu illustrates that the interest to use of different language arose from bullies in the 19th century by the Western people. Therefore, the government started advocating the importance of learning and understanding distinct languages despite the fact that there was resistance to the change. In fact, the conservationists thought that it would result in the dilution of their culture. The Chinese government enhanced adequate resources to boost foreign language knowledge where the Chinese accessed modern innovations necessary to sustain their territories. The reformists followed the western cultures and conservationists wanted to maintain their values and language.

Indeed, the social, political and distinct ideologies contexts have an impact on the existing multi-language cultures in China. The language ideologies have contributed significantly to the language policy with prioritization being made on the languages to select. The circumstance benefits China’s economy enormously. The Chinese national policy promotes both the regional and cultural sovereignty, and everyone has the right to use the preferred language

The Foreign Language Education Planning (FLEP) has been a victim of political hustle involving economic reforms in China for more than six decades. The process started in 1949 when Western imperial powers bullied Qing’s government. The government decided to embrace modern diplomacy in order to enhance interactions with more foreign nations. The idea to open up to the world was important but threatened the culture of the Chinese people. A proposal by Zhang Zhidong, a reformist, insisted on Chinese education for values and Western learning for practical uses

According to Liu, (2015) FLEP has gone through politicized era (1949-1976) characterized by political turmoil that influenced the choices made. FLEP wanted to enhance communism in the nation to prevent loss of the Chinese language. FLEP was criticized for changes in the curriculum and qualified teaching forces. That led to the expansion of Russian languages that had strong systems of teaching.