California Tax Camp no Picnic for Participants

Just like the U.S. Army, instructors at this week's tax boot camp in southern California help students "be all they can be."

Such is the motto at this five-day, intense learning experience sponsored by the San Diego Chapter of the California Society of CPAs. Approximately 40 newly licensed CPAs and candidates from across the state will spend the time preparing tax returns using information provided by instructors.

While this may not sound complicated to a seasoned professional, instructors try to create a real-life scenario by giving students W-2s, brokerage statements, receipts from charitable organizations and medical expenses, and other financial documents. Students are asked to use the information to complete actual tax return forms.

One of the main lessons taught is organization, according to the instructors. Students begin the sorting process on the first morning.

"They're immediately shocked, confused, baffled," said Tom Dalton, CPA. An associate dean at the University of San Diego School of Business Administration (the location of the course), he said, "It's the same reaction I and practically every other accountant faced when we had to prepare our first tax return."

The results? "Once they're through with boot camp, they can go back to their employers and hit the ground running," Dalton said. "Employers appreciate that. When you get into tax season, a partner in a CPA firm doesn't have the time to handhold a new employee, so we do that for them."

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