Provided by the Internal Revenue Service, Simulation #5 covers identifying filing status and dependents required for completing form 1040A. The presentation consists of 14 slides, plus form 1040A. The presentation provides background information on a widower and his two children that live with him. (The mirror site url is a link to the table of contents listing all 20 IRS simulations.)
How to complete form 1040A for a widower with two dependent children that live with him in the United States.
Target Student Population:
Besides use in a basic individual income tax course, it could be used to provide some very basic tax information for anyone needing to file form 1040 or 1040A.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Minimal knowledge of taxes, if any, is needed.
Type of Material:
In class, as homework, individual usage, team project, or class lecture as a helpful tool in an individual income tax course.
Netscape Communicator 4.7 or equivalent broswer.
Evaluation and Observation
The simulation has the user assume the role of a taxpayer. By answering a number of questions, the user is coached to identify his filing status and number of dependents to claim. The simulaiton provides accurate information that is both current and relevant. It covers the basic requirements for a widower who needs to determine whether or not his two children can be taken as exemptions on his form 1040A for federal income tax purposes. The content is suitable for a beginning individual income tax course. The simulation provides a good demonstation of the subject if the mirror site url is used in conjuntion with this one.
The module is somewhat deficient in that it does not cover all corresponding issues when determining the federal tax status of dependency exemptions.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The simulation identifies learning objectives. No prerequisite knowledge is necessary to understand the lesson presented. Concepts are reinforced progressively building on prior concepts by demonstrating relationships between the concepts. The content is suitable for the chapter of an individual income tax course covering personal and dependency exemptions that explains the various requirements for all types of exemptions. The simulation could be assigned for self-study review before a quiz or examination.
More information needs to be provided for student learning. This area of the fedearl tax law for individuals, understanding personal and dependency exemptions, requires much more relevant information than what has been captured on each of the 14 slides. An instructor would need to provide considerable additional content. The simulation must assume an underlying awareness of criteria. For example, for the dependency test, the ‘joint return test’ for the child would not be obvious. The example is very limited in its coverage.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The simulation is easy to use and requires no user instructions to view. The design of each slide is visually appealing. Interactivity is achieved by asking the viewer to assume the role of the fictituous taxpayer, Joshua Bell, and respond to a variety of questions. Feedback is provided for all responses (green font used for correct answers, red font used for incorrect responses). Users can "check answers" as often as necessary until all the correct responses are provided.
The simulation requires reading and clicking and has no audio to enhance the presentation.
Other Issues and Comments:
The simulation itself, Identifying Filing Status and Dependents, is rather limited as a stand-alone module. The mirror site, however is good to use. It contains a wide variety of simulations, tutorials, and assessments which together are quite impressive.