Tax preparers, what can I say? We live by deadlines, it’s just the nature of what we do, of who we are. It’s frequently impossible to get us to do anything before we absolutely have to do it … our life is one buzzer-beater basketball shot after another!
According to our (albeit informal) surveys, more than 80% of CTEC tax preparers wait until at least October 1st to register with CTEC. And a large segement of that 80% will not register until the last week before the October 31st deadline. Listen, I’m not saying that’s a good thing or a bad thing and I can assure you I’m in no position to judge, but it is what it is.
Therefore, here are four IMMEDIATELY ACTIONABLE tips that can help you beat the CTEC deadline in style.
1. Immediately Separate the “Must Do” from the “Should Do”
If you’re close to a deadline, you need to immediately distinguish between what you MUST do and what you SHOULD do. In the case of your 20 hour CTEC course, you MUST answer all the Exam Questions on our quizzes with at least 70% correct.
You SHOULD read the textbook front to back every page, answer all the optional Review Questions, and watch all the hours of videos that we include in your 20 hour course as a special bonus.
There are only 100 Exam Questions that you must answer.
Start by working on those Exam questions if you’re close to the deadline. Do what you must do, first.
2. Use Technology to Your Advantage
I’m frequently amazed when people email our customer service saying they can’t find an answer in the book. Have you ever heard of this thing called “Google”? It’s pretty handy; use it.
And then there was this other “trick” I showed people on Facebook, a while back, that can help you find answers to the questions way faster. This is how the trick works:
- You open up the chapter (or the whole course document) in a PDF document. Note that you must actually open the document in Adobe, you can’t leave the PDF as a browser window, you have to actually download it and open it in Adobe for this to work.
- Then you open up your Exam questions.
- Then you copy and paste the “keyword” from your Exam Question; simply highight the word or phrase in the question that’s most crucial to the question, and then press “Control + C” to copy that word or phrase. So for instance if the Exam question concerns standard deduction, you highlight “standard deduction” and then press “Control + C” to copy that Word.
- Now go back over to your PDF document and press “Control + F.” This will pull up a search box inside your PDF document. It’s like Google searching a PDF document, and it’s super-awesome. Put your cursor in that search box and press “Control + V” to paste your keyword (“standard deduction”) into the search box and press the “Next” button. You’ll now see highlighted everywhere in the PDF document where the word “standard deduction” appears.
- Press “Next” button again and it will keep bringing you to the next “instance” where the words “standard deduction” appears.
- Read those sections that have that word or phrase in them and get the answer and bubble the correct answer in your Exam.
- Move to the next question, rinse and repeat.
- The CTEC course is an open book test, and this is a completely legal and ethical way to make the best use of that open book.
If you haven’t used the old “Control + F” trick before to search a PDF, you’re welcome.
3. Stay Calm
You ever meet someone who freaks out when they forgot about a test tomorrow? Then they spend the rest of the night fretting and sweating about how unprepared they are, instead of studying? You ever been that person?
Yeah, I’ve been that person, too! 🙂
Stay calm and take effective action and you’ll do a lot better with deadlines.
Also remember that CTEC’s October 31 deadline is not a “true” deadline, in the sense that they allow “late” registration all the way up to January 15th of the upcoming year. Yes you’ll have to pay an extra fine, and we don’t like you paying extra fines, but let’s put it in perspective, please.
Even if you don’t meet the January 15th real CTEC renewal deadline, worst that can happen is you need to take the 60 hour Basic CTEC course over again, which for many tax professionals turns out to be a helpful tax season refresher anyways.
Give yourself the freedom to do your best to beat the deadline and if you don’t, you don’t, it’s not the end of the world and you still do have option to continue your tax career with relative ease–so just CHILL and proceed promptly and without panic.
4. Work with People Who Are Deadline-Friendly
I was researching some of our competition lately and I was surprised to find that some 20 hour CTEC course providers actually say things on their website like “allow 7-10 days for your hours to be reported to CTEC.” HUH?!? 7-10 days, I don’t think so, that really is not going to work for me!
We report hours every night, 7 days per week, and when it comes close to a deadline we have people literally waiting and watching our system and pressing “refresh” on their browser to pick up course graduates and report them every 5-10 minutes. I know for myself, I haven’t gone out for Halloween in years and I don’t answer the doorbell to give any kids any candy, because I’m so stressed out making sure that every RenewCTEC.com graduate gets their hours reported before midnight. Some call that obsessive-compulsive (for instance, my wife calls it that), but I call it understanding your customers’ needs and being a Clutch Performer, LOL.
Listen, we are tax preparers ourselves, we know how it works: yes we should have gotten this done earlier, but we didn’t, and now we need to get this done NOW and that’s just the way it is so if you want to earn my business you’ll just need to work with me on that.
Beware of Shady Education Providers
One way you do NOT want to beat the CTEC deadline is by working with an education provider that’s not compliant with CTEC and IRS guidelines.
At Pronto, everyone knows we like to have fun with our courses and not take ourselves too seriously, but you can rest assured when it comes to our courses we stick to what CTEC and IRS require 100%.
We pack a huge amount of information into our courses so that you can do what you MUST do, and you can also do what you SHOULD do, and because you have a 120 membership with your 20 hour course you can beat the deadline and then come back for more when you have time.
Even if you don’t roll with our course (which of course would be a huge mistake, but still no judgement), make sure whatever education provider you’re using is trustworthy and takes the rules of IRS and CTEC seriously when it comes to creating courses that meet the needs of deadline-driven tax professionals while also staying in good graces of the authorities that regulate our industry.
And now, if you’ve read to the end of this blog post, I just have one question for you: What are you doing, don’t you have a deadline to beat??!?!??!?! Start your course today and let’s beat the deadline together.