Checkpoint by RIA Featured Spotlight: Calculators

This is the final post in a four-part series spotlighting Checkpoint by RIA.

Checkpoint has a variety of useful calculators. They are divided into a series of topics such as auto, credit card, loan, and tax. Each topic contains several calculators that allows the user to enter data into labeled boxes and the calculator will compute the entered information into an easy-to-interpret results page.

To access the calculators click the “Tools” tab on the top bar, and select “General” under the “Calculators” section of the drop down menu.

Under Personal you will find calculators such as Checkbook Balancer, Home Budget, Student Budget, and Credit Assessment. Under Tax you will find a 1040 Tax and a 1040EZ Tax Estimator calculator. The Savings sections contains calculators for Lunch Savings, College Savings Plan, and Savings Goals.

As an example, let us look at the “Lunch Savings” calculator under the “Savings” section.

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The calculator prompts you to enter the price of an “eat out lunch” and a “bagged lunch.” Next, enter the amount of bagged lunches to bring from home each month (average is 20), and the number of years you are going to save your lunch money. Finally, enter your expected rate of return on investment (the definitions section provides that the current S&P 500 annual rate of return of 7.76%).

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Click “Calculate.” The calculator predicts that the lunch savings over the next four years could be $6,734 or $120 per month.

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Access to Checkpoint by RIA database is available through the Texas Tech Law Library website under the Electronic Databases tab.

 

Fall 2016 ELR Class Schedule

Registration is now open for Fall 2016 classes in Texas Tech’s award winning Excellence in Legal Research Program.  Sign up for classes today to get a jump start on being a practice-ready attorney from Day 1 on the job!  Remember, attorneys in their first years of practice spend 35% of their time conducting legal research!

ELR schedule fall 2016If a course doesn’t show up in Blackboard, it means that it is already full.  Contact Alyson Drake at alyson.drake@ttu.edu to be placed on the waitlist for that course.  There are usually a few cancellations in the week before the class and we do our best to fit in every student who wants to attend.  Furthermore, if there is sufficient interest for a course, we can add an additional session.

You must be added to the ELR Program course on Blackboard before you can register.  To be added to the Excellence in Legal Research Program, contact Alyson Drake at alyson.drake@ttu.edu.  Then you can register using the instructions found on the ELR Program webpage.

We look forward to seeing you all in some ELR classes this fall!

Checkpoint by RIA Featured Spotlight: State & Local Reporters

This is the third post in a four-part series spotlighting Checkpoint by RIA.

Checkpoint’s state and local reporters is a useful resource that allows you to search for tax documents for the fifty states. It includes statutes, explanations, regulations, cases, forms, and a weekly newsletter.

To access this resource for Texas, click the “Home” tab on the top bar. Under the section “My Quick Links” click the link “State & Local Reporters.” Select “Texas” and click “Next.” This feature allows you to select a state, the type of tax, and the type of document you are looking for. Further, this search tool allows you to narrow the results by keywords.

As an example, say a client asks you a trust question: Who pays the income tax, the income beneficiary or the principle beneficiary?

Begin by selecting “Estate & Gift taxes” under the “Select Tax Types” section and “Statutes” under the “Select Document Type” section. Next, under the “Keywords” search box type “income tax,” and click “Search.”

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In our results we can see Texas Property Code Annotated Section 116.205 Income Taxes.

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Selecting the “Income Tax” link will take you to the text of the Texas Property Code Section 116.205, which will allow you to answer your client’s question.

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Access to Checkpoint by RIA database is available through the Texas Tech Law Library website under the Electronic Databases tab.

 

Checkpoint by RIA Featured Spotlight: Form/Line Finder

This is the second post in a four-part series spotlighting Checkpoint by RIA.

Checkpoint’s form/fine finder is a practice aid with line-by-line summaries for individual, corporate, partnership, estate, gift, trust, and exempt organization returns. It is a quick and easy-to-use resource to find information on Internal Revenue Services’ forms and lines.

To access the form/line finder, click the “Home” tab on the top bar. Under the section “My Quick Links” click the link “Form/Line Finder.” This will take you to the Form/Line Finder resource. From here, enter the tax year, the form number, and optionally you may enter a form or schedule line number or schedule.

For example, if we wanted to find Form 8863 from 2015—Education Credits for qualifying education expenses—we simply enter “2015” into the “Tax Year” field, “8863” into the “Form Number” field, and click “go.”RIA Checkpoint 4

From the search results we can see the Education Credits form. Click the result to access the resource.

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Checkpoint provides information of the education credits including “choosing which credit to take; choosing not to take either credit,” and cross-references to other Checkpoint resources.

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Access to Checkpoint by RIA database is available through the Texas Tech Law Library website under the Electronic Databases tab.

 

Texas Statutes by Date

Have you ever needed to see how a statute read on a particular date in time?  You also probably know how difficult it can be to locate this information!  While the Law Library and fee databases have this information sometimes its useful to be able to go to the internet and check a free source, like Texas Statutes by Date.

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The Texas Constitution and Statutes site now has a feature, Statutes by Date, that allows users to see how a statute looks on a particular date; anytime from today back through 2004.

To do this go to their webpage, enter the date you’re interested in viewing in the calendar, select the code you need (code, article/chapter, and article/section) and click the “reset” button.

This is a great free resource that can be used by anyone to find those sometimes difficult to locate older statutes!

 

 

 

Federal Register Sources

Federal Register Sources

 

fedregThe Library of Congress (LC) reports that its Federal Register online collection provides access to 14,586 issues of the Federal Register, covering the years 1936-1993. The LC is not the only site to host free access to the Federal Register. FDSys (or the GPO’s Federal DFigital System) picks up the coverage of the Federal Register starting with 1994 to current. The Office of the Federal Register (OFR) is another excellent source for current or more recent issues visit their federalregister.gov site.

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The Law Library has multiple sources and formats for accessing the Federal Register including:

Law Library Holdings of the Federal Register fedreg table

 

 

Managing and Sharing Files Across Multiple Devices

These days, it’s not uncommon for one person to use two, three, or even four devices in a day for doing work, accessing the internet, reading, playing games, or whatever else. I am a rather extreme example, but over the course of a typical day, I will generally use my work PC, my Android smartphone, my iPad, and my home PC for any or all of these tasks. If I’m traveling, I may also use my laptop, or occasionally a PC at a hotel business center, a conference center, or some other device that I don’t even own. When writing, I may work on a document at work, then more at home, and then on my iPad while out for dinner. Likewise, I may download an article or case to read on my work PC, then open it on my phone to finish while I’m waiting somewhere else.

While external drives (like flash drives or pocket hard drives) can be used to transfer large files between computers, they do have limitations. They can be easily lost or fail at inopportune times. Moreover, mobile devices rarely allow for easy connection to such devices (most don’t have full-size USB ports, for example). Cloud storage services offer a solution that is generally platform-neutral, and often have basic services available for no cost to you.

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