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The idea here was to expand on the ear, nose, and throat thing and include some other part of the body. Elbow ended up being the funniest, but here’s a few options I threw out:
See what I mean? Elbow is totally the right choice.
Tax help can cost a lot of money. Pros charge $150 an hour on average to do a federal and state return, according to the National Society of Accountants. Help with planning, back taxes or audits can cost even more. But there are a few ways to get human tax help for free.Where to Get Free Help With Taxes 1. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
What it is: A federal grant program that helps community organizations provide free tax-prep services to low- and moderate-income individuals, the disabled, the elderly and limited-English speakers.
How it works: Taxpayers can get face-to-face help from local, IRS-certified volunteers. Generally, the income limit is $54,000. Volunteers won’t prepare the Schedule C (sorry, freelancers), the complex Schedule D (sorry, investors) or forms associated with nondeductible IRA contributions, investment income for minors, premium tax credits, requests for Social Security numbers or determinations of worker status.
“In a lot of communities, [people] can just dial 211 to find out information about the nearest VITA site and get more information about whether or not they qualify,” says Rebecca Thompson, project director of the taxpayer opportunity network at the Corporation for Enterprise Development, which focuses on fighting poverty.
Get help from the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.2. Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE)
What it is: A federal grant program that gives money to community organizations to provide people with free tax help. Although the program was established to help people 60 and older, and still prioritizes serving them, there’s actually no minimum age requirement. Trained volunteers provide the assistance.
How it works: Similar to VITA, community organizations and nonprofits use the grant money to provide help. Most TCE sites are operated by the AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide program.
“The TCE program and the VITA program use, as a base, the same training program [for volunteers]. They use the same certification test and, for the most part, the same software,” says Fran Rosebush, deputy director of the Corporation for Enterprise Development.
Get help from the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program.3. AARP Tax Foundation
What it is: A nonprofit arm of AARP that operates the Tax-Aide network of tax preparation sites for the IRS’s VITA and TCE programs.
How it works: AARP’s Tax-Aide connects taxpayers with tax counselors who have advanced IRS training. It also operates an online FAQ page where you can submit tax questions to IRS-certified volunteers. You don’t need to be an AARP member to get help.
Get help from the AARP Tax Foundation.4. IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service
What it is: An independent organization within the IRS that protects taxpayer rights.
How it works: You can turn to the Taxpayer Advocate Service if you’ve already tried to resolve your tax problem through normal IRS channels or you think an IRS process isn’t working the way it should. There’s at least one Taxpayer Advocate office in every state.
Get help from an IRS taxpayer advocate.5. Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs)
What it is: A federal grant program that gives money to legal-aid and legal-services organizations to help low-income taxpayers or taxpayers who speak English as a second language. Law schools and business schools also are common providers. Some charge nominal fees.
“We don’t prepare tax returns, generally speaking, but if somebody, for example, has their refund frozen and they need help figuring out why, they can call low-income tax clinics,” says Christine Speidel, an attorney at Vermont Legal Aid, which runs clinics in the state.
How it works: The program generally provides representation for people in IRS disputes, including audits, appeals, collections and litigation. It also can help respond to IRS notices and fix account problems. Typically, the income ceiling is 250% of the federal poverty rate, but some programs have a little wiggle room, Speidel says. Sole proprietors are usually welcome, she adds.
Get help from the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic program.6. IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers
What it is: Local IRS offices across the country.
How it works: Services vary by office but can include basic tax-law assistance, payment arrangements, procedural inquiries, help with IRS letters and notices and other support. You’ll need to schedule an appointment and provide a valid photo ID and taxpayer identification number, such as your Social Security number.
Get help at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center.7. Military OneSource
What it is: A Department of Defense program that provides financial and legal resources, among other things, to military members and their families. The tax program is called MilTax.
How it works: Trained MilTax consultants are available by phone seven days a week during tax season from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET at 1-800-342-9647. After April 18, they’ll be available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET. MilTax is part of the VITA program, which means you also can get face-to-face help on base or nearby.
Get help from Military OneSource.8. The tax pro down the street
What it is: A certified public accountant, licensed attorney, enrolled agent or someone who has completed the IRS’ Annual Filing Season program. The IRS also requires anyone who prepares or helps prepare federal tax returns for compensation to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number, so be sure to look for that.
How it works: To get free help, all you might need to do is ask. According to the National Society of Accountants, 89% of tax pros offer free client consultations worth more than $100.
Seek help from a credentialed tax professional.9. Your tax software
What it is: Many versions of do-it-yourself tax software come with free help from a tax pro via phone, chat, email or even face-to-face via your cell phone’s camera.
How it works: Tax software providers frequently offer free help, though it’s more common among the higher-end paid versions. Audit support and audit representation are often provided, though you might have to pay extra.
Where to find: Companies such as TurboTax, H&R Block, TaxAct and TaxSlayer offer free help for all or some of their tax software packages.
Republished by permission. Original here.
Tax Pro Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "9 Ways to Get Free Help With Taxes from a Real Live Person" was first published on Small Business Trends
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Technology is the great equalizer. In every industry and in nearly every department, technology is and should be central to performance and achievement capacity. Of course, the frontiers of technology constantly change. The assembly line modernized the means of production in the early 1900s, the telephone revolutionized communication, computers changed nearly everything in the 1980s, and today the frontier of technology is big data and artificial intelligence (A.I.).
Much has been made of those two trends in the last year. Every company under the sun has made bold claims about how much data they can capture and utilize. Then there were the data purists who said data had to be cleared of noise and be converted into smart data. The rules of good data have even been turned into an alliteration: Volume, Velocity, Variety, Veracity, and Value. On top of data came A.I., the much heralded “next wave” of technological progress.
A.I. captures a unique place in the public consciousness because we have been told both to fear it and to hope for it to save us from the tedium of work. But for all of the talk about what A.I. can do, very little has been made of what it is doing right now. There are many hundreds of products out there that purport to leverage A.I. for various tasks, but few of them live up to the future world that we read about in the news.
But there is one specific department where A.I. is operating to its futuristic potential by accomplishing one simple goal: leveling the playing field. That department is sales and the products that are available leverage A.I. to become prescriptive sales tools.Impact of AI on Sales
These are three ways that Prescriptive Sales is changing the industry:Two is Better Than One
Prescriptive Sales tools function like a regular customer relationship management (CRM) platform except that it is tracking and analyzing millions of events and identifying areas for improvement. Uzi Shmilovici, a thought leader in Prescriptive Sales technology and the CEO of Base CRM, says this technology gives sales professionals data-driven feedback for constant improvement.
“Artificial intelligence programs can scan through millions of events to find patterns and correlations that we just would not notice on a day to day basis,” explains Shmilovici. “So it might notice a correlation between sending a specific pitch deck to prospective clients before calling them results in better conversions. Or it might notice that sending a weekly follow up email can yield results up to 8 weeks after initial contact. These are small practices that a sales professional might miss but that can increase performance over time.”
The effect is to give sales professionals a second brain, one that crunches numbers and identifies patterns without needing any assistance. This has the potential to make every salesperson in the office a top performer, not just those with the best instincts. In that way, A.I. is leveling the playing field.The Art of Scaling
Growing a company is a chess match. There are a million strategies at play, but at the end of the day, cash is king, and you do not want to find yourself without it. But how do you grow your sales without hiring sales personnel? One way is to sell more with the team you have, and that is the future of Prescriptive Sales.
There is a litany of statistics available about how badly the average sales office performs. By any metric, there is room for growth. One study found that 63% of sales professionals fail to meet their personal quotas. So when we talk about there being room for growth without hiring new personnel, that is the space we are talking about.
Prescriptive Sales is designed to make it easier for salespeople to exceed their quotas. When a whole sales office uses the platform, the A.I. analyzes performance across individual experiences, meaning the program takes notes on how the top performing individuals work and shares it with the rest of the team. That cross-pollination of best practices makes up for numerous shortcomings in talent.
Don Schuerman, CTO of Pegasystems writes, “Using AI to correlate data and uncover trends is great, but data is made valuable only when you can take action on it.”Descriptive vs. Prescriptive
It is hard to overemphasize the importance of this leap forward. Today’s CRM platforms are broadly flat, meaning they describe what is and what is likely to be, but not what can be. In that way, today’s CRM platforms are Descriptive rather than Prescriptive.
Transitioning to Prescriptive Sales technology opens up new worlds of business opportunities. Suddenly executives are not handcuffed to best, middle, and worst case projections for annual revenue; instead they can paint a path toward concrete results and understand what it will take to achieve them.
That shift in thinking will have impacts on management and business strategy beyond what we can speculate about here. Of course, the best executives have always looked at what can be and worked toward that end, but now they have incredibly powerful tools at their disposal to get there.
“The impact of A.I. on sales today is significant enough to qualify as a top-tier competitive advantage,” asserts Shmilovici. “Every CRM company is actively working to release their own Prescriptive Sales platform for that reason. This is the wave of the future.” By combining Prescriptive Sales technology with a talented sales force, companies will be able to achieve growth at a much quicker pace. This technology could potentially become the future of sales and marketing.
AI Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "3 Ways Sales Is Changing With Artificial Intelligence" was first published on Small Business Trends