Basics of Federal Income Taxation
Welcome to LawShelf’s video-course on the basics of federal income taxation. This course provides an overview of how income is calculated and taxed on the federal level and helps prepare students for more advanced courses in taxation.
This is an introductory level course and no prior knowledge or experience in law or taxation is required.
The first two modules focus on defining gross income. While the Internal Revenue Code describes income as being taxable from “whatever source derived,” it also devotes scores of statutes and regulations to illustrating what constitutes income. In Module 1, we’ll look at wages and business income, which employee fringe benefits are counted as income, capital gains, dividends, rents, royalties and others. Module 2 turns to income derived from annuities, pensions, social security, retirement account distributions and other sources. We’ll also survey the types of income specifically exempted by the Code as non-taxable.
Modules 3 and 4 turn to income tax deductions. In Module 3, we’ll look at personal deductions, which includes a discussion of the standard deduction and itemized deductions on Schedule A. We’ll also look at deductions and limits thereon for interest paid, state and local taxes, casualty losses and charitable contributions. In Module 4, we’ll look at deductions more relevant to businesses and business activities. These include costs of doing business, depreciation and amortization and other corporate and business deductions. We’ll also focus on the qualified business income deduction, a boon for small businesses under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
In our final module, we’ll look at tax credits, which allow dollar-for-dollar setoffs of federal income tax. We’ll look at tax credits related to children and dependents, education credits, various other credits and the important “earned income tax credit,” which provides substantial tax benefits for low-income taxpayers. Finally, we’ll look at the alternative minimum tax (AMT), which ensures that high-income taxpayers pay at least a minimum level of income taxes in spite of their possible deductions.
When you complete this course, you will understand how federal income tax is assessed, what constitutes income and have a firm grasp of the most important federal income tax deductions and credits.
Best of luck and we welcome your feedback.
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A LawShelf video-course is an in-depth series of presentations on a discreet legal topic. LawShelf video-courses focus on practical legal information and applications and are each designed to familiarize the viewer with a legal topic quickly and efficiently.
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Video courses are divided into 5 or 6 modules. Each module contains a video lesson (usually about 15 minutes long) and a series of self-test questions that you can use to practice and make sure that you understand the material.
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To complete a video-course, you must pass a 10-question multiple-choice examination by scoring 70% or higher. The questions on the exam are randomly selected from the self-test question sets for the various modules. You can retake an exam as many times as you need to, though you will not get the same questions each time since the questions are drawn from an exam bank.
How long will it take me to complete a video-course?
Between watching the modules, doing the self-test practice questions, reviewing the material and taking the final exam, we estimate that completing a video-course requires a time investment of 4-5 hours. The courses are designed to get straight to the point. We’re cognizant that your time is valuable, and we condense the information you need to know to comprehensively cover a subject into as little time as practical.
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