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Author: katiewa Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 121585  
Subject: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 1/31/2012 1:31 PM
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I totally agree that Congress should have to file a paper return, done by themselves using nothing but a 4-function calculator, once every 4-5 years.

It's not just simplification in the way most people think of it--I'm really not completely philosophically opposed to the concept of trying to encourage various types of behavior via the tax code. Not that I really like it, but it seems to work roughly as well as anything else.

What really gets me are filling out Schedule E for a $60 (approx.) royalty payment from a gas lease--no foreign taxes, no nothing. Last year there was also a Schedule D for $2.11 because one of our stock holdings decided they don't do partial shares anymore. The AMT could be reduced to 1 page (and a lot less frustration, plus a higher level of certainty that I did it right) if they'd just give me the rules and formula for calculating the tax I owe instead of all the "let's make it so simple any idiot can do it" goofy-ness on the second page. Same goes for the federal tax table for under $100,000--they already have the formulae--it'd be one page instead of twelve. Same goes for the Qualified Dividends & Capital Gains Worksheet--give me the formula instead of having me write down the same three numbers 3-5 times each. (All of the worksheets seem to be this way.)

While we're at it, why is it that, in this day and age, 1099's don't get done until 31 January? Most of our accounts have on-line end-of-year statements so I can pretty much figure out our tax, but I don't necessarily have everything in the proper boxes. Why aren't the 1099's ready on-line at the end of the first week of January? My taxes have been mostly ready to go for 2.5 weeks, just waiting on 2-3 more 1099's. (Had two financial aid deadlines for 1 February, so had to fill out the FAFSA and the CSS PROFILE, which is even worse.)

The FAFSA is another bit of (government) ridiculousness in that they pretend that the student is filling it out. What a joke!!!! At least the CSS PROFILE let's you choose whether it's a parent or the student who is filling it out.

However, I got my FAFSA and CSS PROFILE sent last night, and I have one more bit of paper to send off today, plus a bunch of laundry to do. Then I'm going to leave my computer for two days and go skiing in fresh (and falling) snow with the mountain essentially to myself :-)!!

Kathleen
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Author: TMFPMarti Big funky green star, 20000 posts Home Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114801 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 1/31/2012 1:52 PM
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Same goes for the federal tax table for under $100,000--they already have the formulae--it'd be one page instead of twelve.

And you'd be astounded how many people can't do 4th grade arithmetic. I used to teach tax law to college grads, and it was hard enough to get them to look up the right number in the tables.

Phil
Rule Your Retirement Home Fool

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Author: katiewa Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114802 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 1/31/2012 2:08 PM
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Don't most people either hire their taxes done or use a tax preparation software? And the IRS will figure the tax for you anyway, won't they? So what does it matter?

Kathleen

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Author: irasmilo Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114803 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 1/31/2012 2:11 PM
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While we're at it, why is it that, in this day and age, 1099's don't get done until 31 January? Most of our accounts have on-line end-of-year statements so I can pretty much figure out our tax, but I don't necessarily have everything in the proper boxes. Why aren't the 1099's ready on-line at the end of the first week of January? My taxes have been mostly ready to go for 2.5 weeks, just waiting on 2-3 more 1099's. (Had two financial aid deadlines for 1 February, so had to fill out the FAFSA and the CSS PROFILE, which is even worse.)


Completing 1099s isn't as simple as you might think. Getting "everything in the proper boxes" is the problem. Some dividends get reclassified because the corporation didn't have enough profit. Entities such as REITs have to determine how much of their distributions are dividend/capital gain/return of capital and they can't do that until their books are closed for the year. Mutual funds can't determine the character of their distributions until they get all of the information from the investments they held. And there are other issues that sometimes affect the generation of 1099s.

Ira

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Author: ptheland Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114804 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 1/31/2012 2:39 PM
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The FAFSA is another bit of (government) ridiculousness

You want to talk about simplifying, let's talk FAFSA. It's due at the beginning of February - one day after the deadline to distribute W-2s, and two weeks before 1099s are due. Talk about dumb!!!!

And most schools require one from everyone. Even those who, by their own admission aren't going to qualify for need-based aid.

I can't tell you how many clients I've had over the years who are making $200k and up, with a student starting college, forced to fill out an aid application for aid they'll never get.

Oh - on tax simplification: Tell you want. Volunteer for a tax season with VITA or TCE. Then you'll know where simplification really needs to happen.

--Peter

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Author: JeanDavid Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114805 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 1/31/2012 2:54 PM
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Why aren't the 1099's ready on-line at the end of the first week of January?

The same reason TurboTax, TaxAct, etc., are not ready on January 1. Sometimes congress does not get all the latest crap into the law until the last day of the year, the president does not sign it until a few days later, then the IRS gets the edit slips (they never write out a whole new tax law. It is all bull$hit like Page 144, column 2, verse three, line 2, change "should" to "may", etc. so you need the complete former law and the new crap to see what the current law really is. Then the poor IRS wage slaves have to turn that into the nearest thing to plain American English as they can, and that is limited because sometimes they cannot really understand what congress came up with.

So it really takes some years to get all the troubles through the courts, and into the interpretations of court decisions, before you can really understand what the law means. So sometimes they send you a 1099, and have to send you a revised one a month later, and then another revised revised one a coupla weeks after that.

But why worry. All the 1099s and stuff must be send out by January 31, now postponed to sometime in February, and I have companies that do not get that stuff to me until mid March. The hell with them. I wait until about March 15 to finish my input to my tax program, and that's that. Anything that comes in after I file goes into the garbage.

Starting on January 1, I put my information into my tax program (now TaxAct), having it pick up the data from the previous year's return. Then I get a 1099R from my former employer's pension plan, I have the real estate tax form from my state and can put that in. the others trickle in. I should get my saving's account statement, my CD 1099INT statement, and so on pretty soon. And the others trickle in until my deadline, when I file.

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Author: JeanDavid Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114806 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 1/31/2012 2:58 PM
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And you'd be astounded how many people can't do 4th grade arithmetic. I used to teach tax law to college grads, and it was hard enough to get them to look up the right number in the tables.

I would not be astounded at all. Though many people consider me a cynic, I call myself a cautious pessimist. But it is not only college grads who cannot be taught to understand tax law or file their own tax return. It is my suspicion that those so mentally incapacitated that they cannot get a real job must get elected to public office to support themselves. Not only can they not understand the tax law, they write the tax law. Is it any wonder that things are the way they are?

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Author: katiewa Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114807 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 1/31/2012 3:30 PM
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It's due at the beginning of February....

I have dates for 1 Feb, 15 Feb, 28 Feb, 1 Mar, and 30 Apr; some want FAFSA, some both FAFSA and CSS, some both plus other stuff, some have their own forms.

But, of course, the schools are trying to figure out as early as possible how much money they need to give out to get the students they want/need. And students expect to know by at least March what their options are, including financial aid. And since "they" now recommend applying to 4-6 schools, after students get their offers/rejections there is more shuffling.

I can't tell you how many clients I've had over the years who are making $200k and up....

The schools will tell you to apply anyway because they don't necessarily use the same formulae as the feds. And private/out-of-state school isn't an option if there's no financial aid, even though we don't qualify for anything according to FAFSA, especially since we can't claim any of the education credits/deductions. And most of the schools we are looking at only offer need-based aid, but, as best I can tell, "need" can be defined however the schools want, as long as it's not federal funds.

I took the SAT once, applied to one college, and that was it. Seems much more complex these days.

Kathleen

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Author: vkg Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114808 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 1/31/2012 3:41 PM
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Anything that comes in after I file goes into the garbage.

You should at least read it. Frequently, they have minimal changes, but occassionally the changes might be in your favor or significant enough to require action.

It is really annoying to receive an revised 1099 with no changes.

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Author: PSUEngineer Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114809 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 1/31/2012 4:42 PM
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But why worry. All the 1099s and stuff must be send out by January 31, now postponed to sometime in February, and I have companies that do not get that stuff to me until mid March. The hell with them. I wait until about March 15 to finish my input to my tax program, and that's that. Anything that comes in after I file goes into the garbage.

As mentioned earlier, it matters to people who need to fill out a FAFSA form.

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Author: reallyalldone Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114810 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 1/31/2012 5:55 PM
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And most schools require one from everyone. Even those who, by their own admission aren't going to qualify for need-based aid.

Encouraged,yes. Required, no.

I speak as a parent who sent children to 3 different colleges, 2 of whom had merit aid. Two were public colleges and one was not and no FAFSA was ever completed.

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Author: inparadise Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114811 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 1/31/2012 6:27 PM
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You want to talk about simplifying, let's talk FAFSA. It's due at the beginning of February - one day after the deadline to distribute W-2s, and two weeks before 1099s are due. Talk about dumb!!!!

And most schools require one from everyone. Even those who, by their own admission aren't going to qualify for need-based aid.


We just filed this for the first time, and used estimated tax returns. We can amend it later if need be, but we are one of those that don't even begin to qualify for need based aid.

And yes, one of the schools that has already awarded Eldest about $18,000 in merit scholarships has stated that there will be no money given, even merit or the cash they are willing to give him as a legacy student, without the Fafsa. Have it in writing even. I've also been told by another parent at our school that is in some sort of position that deals with financial aid at a local university, that the institutions are somehow rewarded by the gov't by getting the majority of their applicants to provide the FAFSA info. I didn't have the time to understand him fully, but that was the understanding he left me with.

IP,
finding FAFSA surprisingly easy to finish with the website they provide to do it

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Author: 2gifts Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114812 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 1/31/2012 7:18 PM
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And most schools require one from everyone. Even those who, by their own admission aren't going to qualify for need-based aid.

I've never heard of a school requiring a FAFSA. I've only heard of them requiring a FAFSA if you wanted to be considered for aid.

I filled out the FAFSA for my kids' first 3 years of college, but am not bothering to do it this year for their senior year next year. I originally filled it out knowing that we wouldn't qualify for any need-based aid, but also knowing that my job was not stable, and if my job situation changed and I had filled out a FAFSA, I could call the Financial Aid Offices and explain my change in situation to see if they could find some aid. If I hadn't bothered to fill out the FAFSA, that option would not have been open to me.

Now, my job did go away, and after a year of no income, I filled out the FAFSA, and they still didn't get any aid, so this year I'm just not bothering.

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Author: Wradical Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114813 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 1/31/2012 7:22 PM
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And most schools require one from everyone. Even those who, by their own admission aren't going to qualify for need-based aid.
----------------------------------
I've never heard of a school requiring a FAFSA. I've only heard of them requiring a FAFSA if you wanted to be considered for aid.

----------------------------------
You're both right.
Many schools (if not all) require a FAFSA from students to get a purely academic, no-needs scholarship. They just do.

Bill

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Author: inparadise Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114814 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 1/31/2012 7:26 PM
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I've never heard of a school requiring a FAFSA. I've only heard of them requiring a FAFSA if you wanted to be considered for aid.

There was one poster on the Paying for College board last year who told of their kid's merit scholarship credit disappearing off the tuition statement suddenly. When they looked into it, they were told it was because they never filed a FAFSA. Scrambling, they got the FAFSA in in time for the credit to be applied.

Could be a new trend, don't know, but it is one I am sure not going to buck.

IP

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Author: 2gifts Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114815 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 1/31/2012 8:13 PM
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There was one poster on the Paying for College board last year who told of their kid's merit scholarship credit disappearing off the tuition statement suddenly. When they looked into it, they were told it was because they never filed a FAFSA. Scrambling, they got the FAFSA in in time for the credit to be applied.

Could be a new trend, don't know, but it is one I am sure not going to buck.


Neither DD's nor DS's school require a FAFSA for merit-based aid. I realize that some do, but all it takes is a phone call to your child's school to find out, although I'd probably want it in writing.

Just because some schools want the FAFSA for all aid does not mean that all schools want it for any type of aid. And even then, the school only requires it if you are getting any kind of aid. If you get none, you don't need to fill it out. Best to be informed, but the fact remains that all schools do not require a FAFSA of every student, but some schools require a FAFSA to be considered for any aid whether that is merit or need-based. But that's different than the statement that started this discussion.

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Author: reallyalldone Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114816 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 1/31/2012 9:26 PM
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Okay, we have one poster with one school and you with Drexel. Among my kids, I have 20 that didn't. I also have over 30 years in higher Ed work including financial aid.

Meh, if people want to repeat anecdata, go for it. For parents, ask if a FAFSA is required and why. You may be surprised how far and wide that information goes and if you're not getting any aid, it's just another place for a possible data leak.

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Author: katiewa Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114817 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 1/31/2012 10:54 PM
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...institutions are somehow rewarded by the gov't by getting the majority of their applicants to provide the FAFSA info....

My guess is that the government gets to double-check what you report on your 1040, make sure you've been filing, make sure you paid off your own college loans, and make sure all 18-year-old males are registered for the draft. Also makes sure that government-sponsored grants don't go to those who don't need them.

Thus, the FAFSA is free because the government gets a fair amount out of it. CSS PROFILE costs for each school you send it to.

Kathleen

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Author: inparadise Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114818 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 2/1/2012 7:29 AM
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CSS PROFILE costs for each school you send it to.

Interesting. When in the process were you told you need to file a CSS? Eldest has applied to 5 schools, a mix of private and in and out of state public, and so far none have requested it.

IP

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Author: inparadise Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114819 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 2/1/2012 7:40 AM
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Among my kids, I have 20 that didn't.

Rad,

How recently did your kids go to school? As I said, this may be an emerging trend. I know my nieces and nephews have also had to file a Fafsa to get merit scholarships, at least the ones that are still in school. I confess it's not something I've paid attention to in the past.

IP

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Author: katiewa Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114820 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 2/1/2012 10:51 AM
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Schools that DS applied to that require a CSS PROFILE are U of Michigan (Ann Arbor), Rensselaer, U of Chicago, and MIT. Schools that do not are U of Minnesota, U of Washington, Colorado School of Mines, Case Western Reserve, and Princeton. Princeton has their own version of the CSS PROFILE that does not cost anything. Colorado School of Mines apparently does not require the FAFSA for merit aid, as DS already got an offer letter.

There does not appear to be any pattern to those that require it.

Too bad the University of Idaho is so rural (DS is tired of rural) and does not have a great reputation. By having above a 3.0 GPA, DS could attend almost free. It's the backup plan since the application deadline isn't until 1 Aug.

Personally, I'm hoping for just enough from U of Michigan to make it viable. Dept. of Nuclear Engineering only has about 120 students, so you get all the benefits of a super-small private college with all the resources of a major research institution.

Kathleen

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Author: inparadise Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114821 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 2/1/2012 11:12 AM
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Colorado School of Mines apparently does not require the FAFSA for merit aid, as DS already got an offer letter.

Eldest received his offer letter with his acceptance, and it mentioned nothing in that about requiring FAFSA to qualify for the merit funds offered. It was elsewhere and later that we were told of the need to file.

Maybe CO School of Mines does not require it, but I sure would ask outright rather than assume.

Congrats to your son. Hope the other choices come through.

IP

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Author: katiewa Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114823 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 2/1/2012 11:40 AM
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Maybe CO School of Mines does not require it, but I sure would ask outright rather than assume.

Used "apparently" because I did not look it up on their website, just inferred it from the fact that we got the merit-aid offer letter before filling out FAFSA.

Offer letter definitely states that FAFSA is required for need-based aid.

Do I infer correctly that your son is considering CO School of Mines? If he is looking at engineering/science, might want to consider a summer internship at a Dept. of Energy lab. The INL (outside Idaho Falls, ID) has their postings up; would assume others do also. Early application is recommended because of potential budget cuts.

Kathleen

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Author: inparadise Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114824 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 2/1/2012 12:08 PM
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Used "apparently" because I did not look it up on their website, just inferred it from the fact that we got the merit-aid offer letter before filling out FAFSA.

So did Eldest, from another University, with a later follow up letting us know we needed to file FAFSA to get anything, even the offered merit $$.



Do I infer correctly that your son is considering CO School of Mines?

No. But thanks for the info.

IP

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Author: 2gifts Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114825 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 2/1/2012 12:21 PM
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How recently did your kids go to school? As I said, this may be an emerging trend. I know my nieces and nephews have also had to file a Fafsa to get merit scholarships, at least the ones that are still in school. I confess it's not something I've paid attention to in the past.


I'm not rad, but did you miss this part of her post?

I also have over 30 years in higher Ed work including financial aid.

I would consider someone who has worked in the industry for the past 30 years, and is still doing that today, to be much more of an expert on this topic than one of two of us with our individual experiences. But that's just me.

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Author: inparadise Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114827 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 2/1/2012 1:22 PM
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I would consider someone who has worked in the industry for the past 30 years, and is still doing that today...

Shrug. No doubt you know RAD better than I, but since she didn't say in her post that she was still active in that career, I figured I would ask rather than assume. Further, she may simply have worked at one specific institution, which does not a generalist make, so yes, I asked. That's what these boards are for, right? If I considered myself and expert, I wouldn't be asking.

IP,
not a big fan of jumping to conclusions based on assumptions

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Author: reallyalldone Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114828 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 2/1/2012 2:06 PM
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Resume includes 22-campus institution, 4-campus institution, state commission, 15 state commission, currently consultant to 9 colleges in 7 states, trainer for the Federal data system from 2000-2010, and the above includes public 4-year, private 4-year, public 2-year and tribal colleges.

need more ?

I didn't list the institutions my kids have attended or are attending because it's their privacy nor did I list any of the scholarships gained or offered but there was a list for each ;)

OTOH, easy enough for me not to post or offer any information if it's always suspect.

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Author: inparadise Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 114829 of 121585
Subject: Re: OT: simplifying the tax code, etc. Date: 2/1/2012 2:19 PM
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OTOH, easy enough for me not to post or offer any information if it's always suspect.

And on the other hand, you could have simply said yes, we are talking recent history, unless of course per usual you were looking to pick a snit with me.

IP

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