Things That Make You Go ‘Hmm’ – CTEC Tax Course Edition


After taking the last few months off to just BE, I’ve decided to start filling up my non-work time again. Only this go round wont be as a volunteer. I REALLY need to push more money into my retirement fund (luckily I do have one that I was funding quite a bit in the 90s-00s) and Id like to continue taking my annual trips without stressing so…I’m sticking with what I know and will be taking on either bookkeeping and/or tax clients in 2015.

I don’t need to do anything for the bookkeeping job other than put the word out and settle on a proper hourly rate. However, since I am not a CPA if I want to prepare and file taxes for people/businesses then California requires CTEC certification which means a 60 hour training course on tax preparation.

So, here I am back in school! Ok, not really…I just had to sign up for an online self study course which I started the week of Thanksgiving. It’s quite the challenge but I only have to pass with a 70% overall score and hey – it’s OPEN BOOK, right? I’m being honest though and not re-taking quizzes even if I don’t get 100% and after 3 units I have a 92 avg. I’ll take that.

NOW – onto the funny part (Yes, taxes can be funny – who knew?!) Last night I was reading the unit that went into detail the many things which you must report on your tax return as income. Most were quite logical and even if it was something I hadn’t thought of before such as any profit you made from re-selling yard sale or rummage sale items at a profit, it made some sense to think that well, yeah, you did EARN money on that transaction and heaven forbid the IRS not take some off the top, amirite?!!

Well, guess what? The IRS isn’t JUST trying to dip into your LEGAL transactions no matter how trivial you think they are. Nope, they also want a piece of your ILLEGAL action – such as:

  • If you receive a bribe, include that it in your income
  • Income from illegal activities, such as money from dealing illegal drugs, must be included on Form 1040, line 21 or on Schedule C if from your self employment activity.
  • If you steal property, you must report its fair market value in your income in the year you steal it unless in the same year, you return it to its rightful owner.

Like me, I am sure you all let out a huge round of scoffs and laughter at the idea of any of the above ACTUALLY happening. I can just see it now when I am interviewing a client:

“So, how much did you make selling weed this year?”

“Oh, right…I’ve got that all written down right here….oh, a good year $10,000!”

“OK, cool. Now, did you end up returning the jewelry you stole from that one guy’s house earlier in the year?”

“No, I decided to sell it – got $5000 for it – noted that right here on this line..”

“Ok, excellent – gotta make sure we keep you out of trouble with the IRS!”

“No kidding – they are ruthless!”