College tax textbooks do provide good information. But they are rarely used in a public accounting firm’s tax department. The reason is that these books are usually designed to discuss basic tax theory rather than to discuss the day-to-day items that you will run into in a typical public accounting tax practice. Therefore, a tax textbook has the luxury of spending several chapters discussing tax reorganizations even if you might not see one for the first several years of your career (if at all).
But in the real world, you want practical tax information that is easily accessed. You want to know what specific types of medical expenses are deductible on Form 1040 Schedule A or real estate expenses on Form 1040 Schedule E. Yes, there are times when you want to research a difficult topics. But on most occasions, the issue of whether an item is deductible or includible in income has already been decided. You only need to find the answer (in plain easy to read English).
As a result, there are three tax books that have been created to solve this problem that are used daily in a public accounting firm’s tax department.
Quickfinders and The Tax Book are similar in design in that they use graphics, spacing and subject matter tabs to make their information user-friendly. You can pick up a copy of either book for about $50. If you are looking for something to study for practical tax advice for joining a CPA firm I recommend both books.
The US Master Guide is widely used by CPA firms and contains more detailed explanations that the other two books (part of the reason it is twice the price at around $95) But it is not as user-friendly as the other two books. As a result, it is harder for the inexperienced user to find their way through the book. My suggestion would be to get one of the first two books and take a look at the Master Tax Guide when you join a public accounting firm’s tax department (firms give away the books for free).
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