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ACCT 340 Taxation I Course Guide

Course Description


Income tax law is constantly changing as it is amended to respond to the ever-changing economic, social and political climate. Consequently, this course focuses on building a strong foundational understanding of the underlying framework and basic principles and concepts of federal income tax law. The goal of this course is to provide tax education rather than tax training. The focus is on the principles of federal income taxation common to all entities and individuals with a greater emphasis on the application of those concepts to individual taxpayers. Brief reference may also be made to estate and gift tax provisions and state income taxation of individuals.

During the course students will get broad exposure to the current tax research tools and the hierarchy of various tax law sources. Through various assignments students will identify tax planning opportunities, understand the role that taxation plays in economic decision making, research tax issues and communicate their findings both orally and in writing. Students also will be expected to complete at least one comprehensive tax return preparation problem to gain familiarity with the tax compliance process.

Students will enhance their communication and teamwork skills within the context of tax research, planning and communication assignments. The ethical considerations and professional responsibilities of tax practice and tax compliance will be discussed.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completing this course students will
• demonstrate knowledge of the concepts, principles and rules of taxation of individuals
• communicate tax research findings on issues of moderate complexity in writing
• deliver an effective oral presentation on a technical taxation matter
• prepare an individual return of moderate complexity
• recognize tax planning opportunities and recommend appropriate tax strategies for decision making
• apply the principles of the professional responsibilities in tax practice.

Course Outline

Conceptual Foundations of Tax Law
Economic, social and political underpinnings
Accounting methods and periods

Tax Research
Tax Law Sources and Hierarchy
Tax research tools, both and electronic (including RIA Checkpoint and CCH)

Gross Income Inclusions and Exclusions

Deductions and Losses:
Expenses- business and employee expenses
Losses- deductions and limitations

Taxation of Individuals-
Tax determination- exemptions, rates, deductions, credits, payments, AMT
Tax compliance (including a comprehensive return preparation problem)

Property transactions:
Acquisitions of property, basis issues
Nontaxable exchanges
Cost recovery –
Dispositions of property -capital gains and losses, recapture issues

Recommended Teaching Methodology


The course will be conducted using a variety of methods of instruction. Students are expected to take an active role in their learning experience and to be well prepared prior to class. Classroom sessions will consist of one or more of the following: interactive lecture, question and answer, class discussions, class exercises, and group or individual student presentations. Research cases will develop students’ research skills and allow the students to apply their knowledge and critical thinking skills to real world situations.

Recommended Assessment Measures


Student mastery will be assessed in several ways including, but not limited to, examinations (usually open book); quizzes; individual or group tax preparation assignments; individual or group research assignments, and class participation. All students will be expected to participate in at least one graded presentation and to prepare one written research memo or client communication. Additionally, at least one compliance or research project will be a group project requiring teamwork.

Required AACSB Assessment of Learning Objectives


Technical competence in the course (Learning Objectives 1 and 4) will be assessed via the tax return assignment and associated questions. Objectives 2 concerning written communication will be assessed by a tax memorandum using the written communication rubric as modified for the course. Objectives 5 & 6, tax planning and applying the professional responsibilities in tax practice will be assessed by questions on the mid-term and final exam.

Statement of Expectations


As one of the required subjects in the accounting curriculum, the material covered is extremely relevant and important for the business student. Success in this course can rarely be achieved with a poor attendance record. Classroom lectures, discussions and related activities are designed to highlight, clarify and expand on the key points made in the text and not to simply reiterate text material. Tax law is very detailed with a myriad of rules, exceptions and exceptions to the exceptions. Even though the course will focus on the underlying concepts, it will take significant time and effort on the student’s part to absorb and understand the material. Much of the learning will take place outside of the classroom as students prepare the material either by reading, completing assignments, thinking critically, analyzing and researching. The mastery of the material and level of skill developed will be directly related to the amount of effort invested by the student.

The concept of academic integrity lies at the very heart of any college. This is particularly true of Siena with its strong Franciscan tradition and its dedication to fostering sound moral growth. In such an environment academic dishonesty cannot be tolerated. Academic dishonesty can take many different forms, including, but not limited to, cheating, plagiarism, and computer abuse. In any situation where a student is unsure of what constitutes academic dishonesty, it is the student’s responsibility to raise the question. It is also the student’s responsibility to be familiar with the student guidelines on academic honesty, “Academic Integrity and the Siena Student” found at the website.

Course Prerequisites

ACCT200 must have been completed with a minimum grade of C-. From ACCT200 students should have a good understanding of the accrual versus cash basis accounting concepts; the accounting concepts of depreciation and asset basis; the advantages/disadvantages and basic tax treatment of various entity forms; and the characteristics of varying types of investments and the income generated by each. In addition, students are expected to have a working knowledge of microcomputers including WORD and POWERPOINT and to have basic database search skills.

Institutional Mechanism for Providing Feedback for Continuous Quality Improvement

Faculty teaching this course will assess the learning outcomes as they evaluate the semester assignments. Portfolios of student work may be compiled to document student achievement. In addition end of semester student evaluations addressing goals and objectives may also be used to assess the effectiveness of the course and the methodologies employed. Once a year faculty will review the assessment results to determine the level of success in achieving learning outcomes. Any suggestions for improvement in content or methodology will be incorporated into the course guide to be implemented in future semesters.