While basic accounting functions can be handled by a bookkeeper, advanced accounting is typically handled by qualified accountants who possess designations such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Management Accountant (CMA) in the United States. In Canada, the three legacy designations—the Chartered Accountant (CA), Certified General Accountant (CGA), and Certified Management Accountant (CMA)—have been unified under the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation.
By 1880, the modern profession of accounting was fully formed and recognized by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. This institute created many of the systems by which accountants practice today. The formation of the institute occurred in large part due to the Industrial Revolution. Merchants not only needed to track their records but sought to avoid bankruptcy as well.
One key tax planning strategy is to keep track of your itemized expenses throughout the year using a spreadsheet or personal finance program. You can then quickly compare your itemized expenses with your standard deduction. You should always take the higher of your standard deduction or your itemized deduction to avoid paying taxes on more income than you have to.
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A special thing about the earned income tax credit is that even if you don't owe anything in taxes, you can still get the credit amount back from the IRS in the form of a refund. As you can imagine from the chart, a credit of several thousand dollars for workers earning less than $56,000 -- in some cases, much less -- can make a big financial difference for families struggling to make ends meet.