I Am Attending Virtual Congress…Are You?

I just completed my registration for the American Payroll Association’s 2017 Virtual Congress & Expo.  This is a free event for APA members which is held every year.  This is the 8th year for the event and the 6th one I will be attending.  This is the online companion to the Annual Congress.  But for me it is the only one I can usually attend.  I love attending the live, real world congress.  I get to meet up with associates, network and gain valuable knowledge.  However, my schedule just doesn’t permit me to take the time off to attend most years. But virtual congress is different. I can attend in the morning, take time to do one of my webinars and be back in the afternoon.  I still get to network with old friends and make new ones using the networking lounge’s chat boards.  I get to see all who are attending and can even contact attendees directly to say hello.  The webinars are always educational.  This year we are looking at such subjects as:

  • State Unemployment Rates: How Did They Arrive at Our Rate?
  • Is this Taxable?
  • Global Payroll
  • Calculations Your High School Teacher Never Taught You

I am really looking forward to these webinars.  Virtual congress is the next best thing if your work schedule or budget just won’t let you attend Congress.  So I hope to “see you there”.  By the way did I mention that you can earn up to 15 RCHs for attending the webinars.  And if you register but can’t attend everything, after the virtual congress concludes, the webinars are then open as on-demand webinars until August.  This is great for me. I can catch up on the ones I had to miss due to work or that were scheduled at the same time as another topic I wanted to check out.

For more info check out the APA website.

Virtual Congress…Almost Like Being There But Without Having to Leave Your Office

Every year the American Payroll Association holds its annual Congress.  Workshops, speakers, exhibit halls all loaded with gads and gads of payroll related topics and products.  Five days of communing with fellow payroll professionals and, of course, earning upwards of 25 RCHs towards recertification.  But that doesn’t come cheap.  Congress alone this year is $1,800, not including travel. Plus it is five days plus travel out of the office. So is the purpose of this blog just to complain about Congress? Emphatically NO! It is a wonderful experience and should be attended whenever circumstances allow.  But what about those of us who either don’t have the budget to attend, or in my case, can’t be out of the office for five days plus travel.  How do we get to enjoy this educational and professional experience?  Why by attending Virtual Congress, of course! The APA has offered a virtual Congress for several years now. I have attended 3 of them and plan on attending again this year. In fact, I just registered this morning when registrations first opened up. What does Virtual Congress offer that compares with Congress?  Well just about everything. You have two general sessions, eight 90- minute educational workshops, a virtual expo, great speakers, the opportunity for up to 14 RCHs and of course, virtual networking with hundreds of other payroll professionals. All of this online and in your office.  And you are not in a vacuum while you attend. You can chat and discuss in between workshops just like at live Congress.  In fact, I find I “meet” more people at Virtual Congress than I did at live Congress because of the way the chats are set up.  And of course, I run into long time associates and old friends.

So what does Virtual Congress cost? Actually it is free if you are an APA member. 14 free RCHs and wonderful educational workshops all while staying in your office. It is actually compatible with iPhone and Android so you can attend on the go if you need to. Virtual Congress is being held May 18-19 so register today.  I know you will find it a rewarding experience just like I have.  I can’t wait!

 

Get all the latest payroll news directly to your inbox. Sign up for The Payroll Pause today.

Studying for the CPP Test Can Be Fun!

Okay so I have roped you in with the title of this blog post, but believe it or not studying for the CPP test can be at least not overwhelming.  I am often asked, as a matter of fact just this morning, “how should I study for the CPP test?”.  And my answer is always the same.  So I thought I would take a few moments and share my thoughts on how to study for this important test without stressing yourself out so much that you flunk the test just from nerves.  Or worse yet, studying some parts too much while only skimming over other parts. Again leading to flunking the test. There are several steps to take to ensure you study what you need, calmly and efficiently. So let me share those with you.

Before you get started you need to get organized.  I recommend creating an excel spreadsheet as a study planner.  Get the test outline from the APA website.  For example under section I Core Payroll Concepts it covers: Worker status; Fair Labor Standards Act; Employment Taxes; etc. List each one of these on the spreadsheet in the first column.  Then locate one or more sources that provides you with information on that subject.  For example, page xxx of Publication 15.  This way you know you are studying every facet of the test and not just those you “like” or “feel comfortable with”.  It also helps you get to know your sources you will be using.  As to those sources:

  1. Get a good source to study as the principle guide.  What do I recommend?  It is the APA test so use the APA guide.  It is that simple.  The Payroll Source is an excellent reference manual but it is an exceptional study guide.  Since the APA touts it as one of the sources you should use why not do so. It has the info, test questions and test quizzes.
  2. Don’t rely just on the one guide.  Read all the publications that apply from the IRS and DOL.  For example read, and I mean actually sit and read, Publication 15, 15-A and 15-B cover to cover at least three times. Also publication 525 is helpful.  DOL has several but the best resource is their website.  Read up on exempt employees and how to calculate overtime. In fact, they have an overtime calculator you can use.  Create an employee with a time sheet that shows 40 hours reg and xxx of overtime at a certain wage.  Give him a bonus discretionary and non-discretionary.  You do the math and then check your math against their calculator. If you don’t match within a penny or two, find out what went wrong. Maybe you don’t understand regular rate of pay. Practice until you can do it in your sleep.
  3. Use the APA website resources such as the Webinar On Demand-Preparing for the 2016 CPP and FPC Exams which is free.  Again it is their test so use their resources.
  4. Create or buy flash cards.  Take the questions in the APA book and write them on one side of a 3×5 card.  Put the correct answer on the back.  These work great when you are at lunch, standing in line at the bank or just want to take a few extra minutes to study without lugging a heavy book around.  Plus by creating the cards you also learn the info.
  5. Record the info and listen to it when you can.  I did this and found it one of the most useful tools.  I would record just one section at a time by basically reading the book, the IRS publication etc., one section at a time and playing it back when I was driving to work and driving home.  Just record enough for the drive.  Once you got that part down go on to the next section.
  6. Do practice tests with full proctoring.  Take the test in the Payroll Source, sit down at a table with a normal chair, have someone time you, and take the test. No distractions, no talking, bathroom breaks count on your time.  It helps relieve real test nerves and gets you use to doing the test under a time deadline.
  7. Chapter study groups. If you do better studying in a group or need others to keep you on track, this would work for you.  They usually have an outline and follow it meeting once or twice a week for several months to cover all the info.  Costs vary but you should check it out if you prefer to study with others.

And finally, but most important, give yourself time to study.  Three months is usually minimum. This is one of the most important business tests you will take.  Do not take it lightly.  Tell family and friends you are taking the test and make sure they understand this isn’t just some silly test, but one that will advance your career. They and you need to take it that seriously.  Don’t try to “squeeze in” a bit of studying here and there. If your life (whether work or home) doesn’t allow for the time to study, then take the test another time.  Remember people who study for the bar exam, the CPA exam or any other type of certification do not do so in their spare time. They make it a major part of their life and so should you.

I hope you find these tips helpful.  If you have any tips that helped you pass the test, please share them.

1 5 RCH_2016 Logo

Already a CPP or FPC and looking for RCHs?  We are now offering our own brand of webinars.  Each one approved for 1.5 RCHs.  Check out our store to sign up today.

Payroll Wall of Fame

Believe it or not the 30th anniversary of the Certified Payroll Professional or CPP designation is upon us. In honor of this special anniversary Ernst & Young, LLP is creating the 2015 Payroll Pro Wall of Fame. It is time to celebrate where the payroll industry has been and where its going. And you can be an important part of that celebration by having your name on the wall.   Simply complete the short form on EY’s website by December 19, 2015.  Payroll professionals with either a CPP or FPC designation are invited to sign up. The wall will be published on December 23, 2015. It can be viewed on both LinkedIn and Twitter pages for EY.  So join me and be counted with your payroll colleagues on EY’s Payroll Wall of Fame.