As I mentioned the other day, I got dinged on an Intuit “Ask a Tax Expert” position. It came as a standard form e-mail from a Dahlia Knott, and no further contact information.
Someone within Intuit who noticed that I have been talking about this was kind enough to send me more e-mail. There was mentioned a possibility about a score on an online test. (No confirmation – that was the last I heard.)
Let me tell you about the test. It was two parts. One was intermediate-level tax questions, and the second was grammar in the context of sending out IMs and messages over the internet.
The test must be done within one hour. There are 25 tax questions, and an unspecified number of grammar questions. When you are doing the tax portion, you don’t know that the grammar portion is relatively easy (if you know writing), so you can easily screw yourself by not devoting enough time to the tax problems.
Out of the 25 questions, I know I got one wrong. It involved “unreimbursed partnership expenses” which are reported on Schedule E. I am fairly confident about the other twenty-four, but I could see having missed some, too.
Since it is an online test, they encourage you to use search engines and IRS.gov. It is thus “open book”. You don’t know whether the goal is to find out how quickly you can find the answer. It’s a strange test.
When I do tax returns during the season, they are mostly for friends, family and close associates who I have helped through the years. They are at least 1040 (not 1040A or 1040EZ, which I would just teach you how to do). And financial planning goes in with it. For a lot of people the tax mistakes are not having a tax strategy–and I don’t mean like the Americans in Japan who don’t file. I mean make the rules—which, yes, favor the top 1% more than the rest of us— work as best you can.
So I am always looking into issues concerning tax law, working with the forms again and again, and keeping on top of the various changes. I can’t see having gotten a large number of those tax questions wrong.
I asked during the telephone interview if I could know what questions I got wrong. I would think it is a matter of professional courtesy that, ehem, the other professionals would point that out to a test taker. But, you know, no way am I going to get the result.
If I knew I had had the time, I would have screen shot each page, and then at least I’d have a record of the test.
If you are visiting me in the future and you searched on “Ask a Tax Expert” or Turbotax or what have you, shoot me out an e-mail and let me know what you thought of that test, if you also took it.
I may not know Publication 1040 from the phone book, but when it comes to some things along the way, I am experienced.
[Note: Credit to the artist who came up with the nifty cartoon above. I have tried to find the original, so that I can put in a link.]
[Note #2: I obviously know 1040 from a phone book, but I don’t like it when someone insinuates I don’t . . . ]
[Note #3: I have been asked if I know how much the Ask a Tax Expert positions are paying. I was told $16 to $20/hour. There is an amorphous $8400 bonus for completing the season. I say, amorphous, because I heard from sources that it starts at $8400, and then goes DOWN every time a customer says something negative, or if the management feels you didn’t do something right. I don’t know about that exactly, but it sounds like a cumbersome carrot if they start you with a high “theoretical” bonus, and then eat away at it.
I will have more to say about the concept of tax advice over the internet in a few days.]