User talk:Donnie C

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EA Exam

Thanks Donnie! I've always liked your insight into the affairs of entertainers and musicians. I did a few for actors and a couple of musicians, and they sure have some unique issues.

See ya round the boards.


Didn't realize that it was you who left the last message on my page. I took my CPE from H&R Block's online courses and a couple of live courses. It only cost me $20 for the entire year for unlimited CPE. Now that I'm an EA the courses are free. Its the closest thing to a CPE Depot that I've found, but unfortunatly I can only take advantage of the courses if I work for Block.

TheTinCook 13:59, 5 October 2007 (CDT)

Your website, Drake

Hello Donnie,

Just checked out your website. Very nicely put together. I very much agree with you regarding RAL's. I see that you use Drake. I am considering switching from Lacerte to Drake. I currently have a Drake demo. For the money, it looks pretty good. Anything you can tell me to give me more confidence to make the switch. I am still very small, but of course hope to grow my biz. Thanks for any feedback.


CPE Depot

I am new to this message board and could not tell how old your question was about CPE Depot. Therefore, I hope my answer is not redundant or outdated. I am also an EA and needed to pickup inexpensive hours for this year and next. What I liked about Depot is that my subscription was for 12 months and therefore usable in 2007 and 2008. I made an inquiry on another board and was told by a poster, who had used them ,that it was OK … and that is my assessment after 28 hours. So far, it has been more theoretical rather than application examples of forms, etc.

I exchanged several emails with Depot regarding which courses they recommended for the EA … other CPE providers identify CPA and EA courses. They pushed it back to me by citing Cir 230 and said they had a lot of EA’s taking courses for CPE with no problems. We concluded that the Tax Category would be a safe bet.

I was told that FunCPE ( is also a comparable inexpensive source, but priced by course rather than subscription.

Hopes this helps.

Snowbird 07:52, 26 October 2007 (CDT)

BEC for the CPA exam

So how'd your test go? I bet you aced that sucker!

TheTinCook 23:44, 29 October 2007 (CDT)

The Tao of the bass line

DC: Craig may can do over phone, or likely connect you with someone legit. in LV. Hey, I'll try anything that works, I need all the help I kin get. Bill. CrowJD 20:37, 15 November 2007 (CST)

Aunt Emmy

Yall shouldnt encourage Aunt Emmy. I am incorrigible. But thank you for you kind words. You a good boy and Aunt Emmy appreciates you too.

Check out the Chat Page

Donnie - I remembered reading you were a bass player, so I found some jokes for you. I play drums myself (since I was a kid). I didn't get to the level you did, but I do enjoy playing. I did get a chance to play at the White House for the President and a bunch of Hollywood types, so that was neat.

Neat picture of you with Geddy Lee. Must have been great to meet your hero.

Best wishes this upcoming tax season.

Tom O'Connor (taocpa)


send me an E mail and I will fill you in.

you have my yahoo account yes?



Hi Donnie,

I got curious about the question you asked on the Drake software thread about someone being a paid endorser... I admit to skepticism as well.

Did you ultimately obtain any additional information about that?

The New Tax Guy

Great movie quote

Donnie-that's another one of my favorite movies! That and Young Frankenstein. Couldn't help but read your website interview. Have you ever met Nathan East? I haven't but I met his brother, Ray. He's a priest out in the DC area. He is a fabulous singer. I was playing at a Mass he celebrated. That is one talented family. Hope you kicked that other CPA's fanny to the curb. See ya. TomTaocpa 14:58, 5 March 2008 (CST)


funny im looking to get into that myself. so how did it fall by the wayside after getting busy?

Somebody Likes Me On Here!!

Well I'll be, someone put all of my comments back on here, I gotta be more careful about what I post, these posts are like herpes or a bad Lee Greenwood song, they last forever! :(


hi donnie

well it sounds like you are getting there yourself. I actually came to work for an ongoing concern where the owner and his wife were looking to retire and i was fresh out of college looking for something to do. I worked under them for several years before me and my partner came in and bought them out. We do a high volume of personal returns, and i probably have 15 or 20 scorps, i think 4 c -corps and about 50 partnerships. Im learning alot from the guys on this site, im planning on cutting back on the numbers i do and only deal with the people who dont drive me crazy lol, cant work at this pace forever.

Did you know Tim can *change* your user name?

Hey - have you ever considered changing your user name? It's slightly longer than the norm, and often stretches out the "creator" column when you post new discussions. Interestingly, today you are trumped by Sidwayconsultants – longer by just a couple of characters - so the board would be stretched regardless, but I thought I'd mention it anyway.

Tim Doyle can actually *change* your user name so that all of your history carries over to the new name – and you have plenty of history; I’m sure you wouldn’t want to lose that. Send him a message (on his talk page) with your preferred new name. Maybe just stick a space between your first and last names – that’ll let the user name wrap within the column if it’s the longest name in the list, and I bet nobody’d even notice that you had a new name!

I think this process takes some time; among other things, I’m sure Tim doesn’t always have time to read the messages on his user page right away.

(FYI - here's the long user name that got me going on this crusade to make sure user names are either short enough that they don't stretch columns much, or else include spaces so they'll wrap within the column: page 34 of the tax forum.) Clearly, your name doesn't create the havoc that one did - so inaction on your part would be completely understandable.


Trillium 11:23, 29 October 2008 (CDT)

New user name

Hey, Donnie -

Tim showed me how to change user names today, and we used your user name change request for my first attempt. As you'll see, Donniecastleman now jumps you right to the new "Donnie C" user name, and your profile, talk page, and user history now show up under the new name. We did try "Donnie" first, but that user name was taken.

While I was here, I also edited your user page to fix those strange boxes you were getting. The problem was that you had spaces at the beginning of the paragraphs, which the wiki software was interpreting as an instruction.

Any new posts you make will show the new user name, but posts you made prior to the change will still show the old user name.

Let me know if you have any questions about the change.


Trillium 16:02, 3 December 2008 (CST)

Old user name?

Hey, Donnie! I wonder if I did something wrong when I changed your user name - the old (longer) name is still showing up on your posts. Hmmm. I know some of the others that got changed are using their new names, but your name was the first one Tim Doyle showed me how to do. If you don't mind which name shows, then don't worry about it, but it you feel like testing something out for me:

Next time you sign on to TA, see if you can sign in as "Donnie C" rather than "Donniecastleman" using your existing password. If so, when you post to a discussion, which user name shows then? And, when you posted the other day, had you signed in as "Donniecastleman"? I'm still learning about how this nuts and bolts stuff works - so maybe I need to advise people who request a name change to sign in under their new names once they've gotten them.

Thanks for your help,

Trillium 12:07, 5 January 2009 (CST)

Hawaii referral

Thanks for the referral, Donnie. I've just recently accepted two new nonprofit clients, so my plate is pretty full at this time. What about Laura (TaxEA) or Paula (ActionBusiness)? Laura is on Oahu and Paula is on the Big Island.Natalie 16:30, 29 April 2009 (CDT)Natalie


A CPA is NOT expert in taxes an EA IS! If you want the CPA - go for it. But, with an EA, you are the man. Your clients don't give a hoot about providing them audited financial statements. A CPA is only a calling card when providing audit services for an SEC registered company.

Enjoy the Memorial Day weekend!




I can't seem to connect to the positng on the IRS e-file monitors. Just wanted check and see how things are going.


Good luck

You know this stuff!

Hi, Donnie -

Hey, hope your meeting went well today - I'm sure you'll be relieved and hope that all the concern was unnecessary (too bad about all the hours to prep though). I'm guessing you edited your efile police discussion earlier today out of worry that you may have said too much, given it being the day of the meeting and all. But as you know, you can't "disappear" other people's posts, only your own (code of conduct rules and all)! And even then, taking out the bulk of the discussion is kinda frowned upon, but if you really felt like you had to protect yourself by taking all of your posts away I suppose I can see why...

But I've got to revert your edit, at the least to replace everybody else's posts onto the discussion. I'll try to go through and pull out all of your posts, since I'm guessing that was the least you'd want (and the most you can get, if we're complying with the code of conduct). Also, I'll move the discussion over to the Business Growth Forum, too - as an e-file topic it probably should have been there all along, but also, if you're worried about the wrong people seeing it, maybe there'll be less of a chance if it's not on the Tax Forum.

Later on, if you want to restore all of your posts, too, you can do this:

  1. Go to the PM/BG forum and open the discussion.
  2. Click the "history" tab.
  3. Click on the time stamp link for Fred's "good luck" comment, at 12:54, 1 March 2010.
  4. Click on the "edit this page" tab.
  5. You'll get a warning that you're editing an out-of-date version of the page, click "save page" anyway.
a. In the Summary box, you might want to put that you're restoring all of your posts.
b. If people have posted to the discussion since I reverted your changes, their posts may be lost when you do this, but I'll try to be watching for any changes you make, and I'll add their posts back in as soon as possible after yur change.

...and then post a reply post at the end of the newly restored discussion, with your update (we're all wanting to know how it went!).

I'm trying to put myself in your shoes and figure out why you removed the content of the entire discussion, so I can try to work with you while still respecting the rights of the other posters (who are looking for the discussion, or who know they posted to it in the past) - I'm hopeful that this is an acceptable middle ground for you...

Trillium 11:57, 1 March 2010 (CST)


Donnie, best of luck with the audit, just answer the questions and offer no more, I am sure you will be fine. Sending you some good vibes to get throught this ordeal.

TexCPA 13:53, 1 March 2010 (CST)

Hi - I just put it back

You can now edit more finely, at your leisure!

Discussion:The Efile Police are coming! - on the tax forum again, although I may move it to PM/BG eventually, as I'd noted in the other note.

Trillium 12:03, 2 March 2010 (CST)

Copyright issue?

Hi, Donnie - when I search around the web, I find that any time people cite the same source as you did (Federal Tax Updates on Checkpoint Newsstand), there's also a note that says "reprinted by permission of...".

So I am concerned that your posting of that newstand item may be seen as a copyright violation to either RIA/Checkpoint, or even just under the TA copyright policies.

Can you go back to where you found it and ensure that nowhere on the page it says anything about being copyrighted? That would imply it could be okay to post it here. Also, do you get that news/info as a result of being a paid subscriber (to it or to RIA in genera), or is it free to any and all? Only the latter would imply it would be okay to be posted on TA.

If you could check a little, and let me know, that would be great - thanks!

Trillium 22:01, 13 January 2011 (UTC)


Yep - it's this part that'll be the trouble:

"© 2010 by Thomson Reuters/RIA. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of Thomson Reuters/RIA."

I'll try to edit to recap/summarize. There are also prior discussions on the Watson case, it you should just wish to reference the newsletter there?

thx for checking

Trillium 22:22, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

Orange "new message alerts

Hi, Donnie - do you get the orange new message alert when you're signed in as "Donniecastleman" but people leave notes on the "Donnie C" talk page? That is the page a person gets redirected to after clicking "talk" next to your user name (which is a result of the user-name-change we went through a year or two ago - that's still your "official" user name, even though you often tend to log in under the original name).

I know you saw the first message I left for you today, as you responded (and thanks!!). But I left that note on both user pages, which is also what I'm planning to do with this note. Did you also get my second note, about why I would be editing your post?

By the way, sorry about the drastic edit, but it looks like it hasn't hampered the conversation much.

Trillium 23:10, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

had to replace your latest discussion

The long user name was stretching out the columns on the forum index, and so what I did was delete it and then restore it - so you'll still be able to get to it via the "my contributions" link in the upper right hand corner of your screen. But you'll notice on the tax forum index it shows up with no name in the "creator" column. (Right now, my name is in the "last poster" column but not because I added a substantive post; I just had to post to it to get it back into the forum index after I restored it.)

Trillium 02:42, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

Nashville Tax

Hello Donnie

I am a CPA in Nashville with over 10 years of large corporate and small business accounting experience that is making the transition to small business and individual tax preparation and planning. I do not have extensive tax experience but have worked in the VITA program and have prepared returns on the side for two years.

Could you help me with any tips you may have for getting started and also do you know of any CPA's and/or tax firms that would be interested in my services? I realize you are not in Nashville but do some work here and thought it couldn't hurt to ask.

Thank You!

Todd Thorley

Donnie: I'm looking for someone to help make a Freedom Of Information Request

to find out what the IRS knows about them. Specifically, I'm looking for someone who has received a letter indicating an IRS due diligence/compliance visit. I want to find out what records they keep on tax preparers (they must keep something to know whether they do a lot of EITC returns or Sch C/E returns), and how they flagged the tax preparer for such a letter and visit. I'll help you write the letter. Are you interested? Contact me. Kevinh5 22:17, 16 November 2011 (UTC)

your login name

Please shorten your "handle" it doesn't appear on the forum page because it is toooooooo looooonnngtaxea 00:11, 24 January 2012 (UTC)

About your Oct2012 discussion

I just replaced the discussion to get your user names out of the "creator" and "last poster" fields, because together they were stretching out the forum index a bit more than was good for those using smaller screens or tiled browsers. It seemed like your questions had maybe been resolved, so I didn't bump it back up to the top of the forum index again.

But if you wanted more feedback, then just add a post to the end with follow-up questions. Preferably, sign in using the "Donnie C" user ID rather than the older Donniecastleman username, but even the longer name isn't much of a big deal as long as you're responding to an existing discussion, rather than starting one.

Let me know if you have any questions about this.


Trillium 02:47, 25 October 2012 (UTC)

Great finally meeting you yesterday!

I enjoyed your music set with the band! I'll come listen again on Wednesday. Kevinh5 06:27, 27 November 2012 (UTC)


Hi Donnie,

Congrats on the decision to give the CPA a try. It's not as daunting as it seems--once you are done with it, that is. While in it, it's an all encompassing beeotch of a process.

I tried Becker back in the mid-90's but I didn't care for it much. Sitting in the classes was a nightmare and a waste of time after working a full-time day at work. I didn't get much out of them telling me to highlight this and highlight that. So this time I bought CPAExcel and then I bought the Wiley PRINTED books. I did not buy the Wiley online test bank for two reasons--1) I am told that the online version is actually easier than the printed book and 2) I can take the book with me anywhere I go. No worries about the test bank website being down, laptop batteries, or internet connectivity.

If I had to sum it up, the key to passing, repetition. Pure and simple.

Here's what I did this time to ensure I passed:

1) Adjusted my attitude. The exam is never something I was going to finish when fitting it into my schedule. I basically treated it like a project management job. I figured out my due dates, etc. and backward planned. The first attempt in the mid-90's my mind and heart was elsewhere. This time, I was intent that I would pass it. I put aside everything else and as far as friends and my passtimes went, I didn't exist. I didn't go hunting a single time, didn't watch a single Duke basketball game, I didn't go fishing, nothing. My life was the CPA exam.

2) As for my study plan, I first sat down and figured out scheduling. There's an art to scheduling to help you out. They say that the exam isn't graded on a curve but that's nonsense. Maybe they don't just universally add points on, but they do externally manipulate the test to achive a reasonably smooth pass percentage. So I say that who you take the exam with DOES matter. For instance, if you look at the historical pass rates, the AUD and REG exam pass rates dip in the second quarter. Why? Because the Big 4 tax and audit pros end their busy season and hit the exam. If more of them pass, fewer of the others taking the exam pass. So I tell colleagues to schedule BEC and AUD during the first two quarters and REG and FAR during the last two. I took them in AUD, BEC, REG, FAR.

3) I see you have kids and a wife like me. That was the hardest part, missing them. So I decided I would not miss them or my wife. I basically figured that sleep was less important than the family. So I just made out a schedule ahead of time that I would adhere to, so that I would have specific time for the family. That way they didn't tire of 11 months of studying. During the week I would get up at 5 AM and drive to work early to study. I would study until about 9 and then begin work. I blocked off my time at lunch perpetually so no one would schedule meetings during my lunch break and I brought my lunch, gulped it down, and studied for 45 minutes or so. I would make sure to get off work on time and then I would eat dinner with the family and I spent a few minutes giving each kid 1 on 1 time. I would then study about three hours until about 10. By that time, my mind was mush. I would watch some TV with my wife and then go to bed around 11. On the weekends, I would study basically all day with small breaks in between to watch some TV, eat lunch, etc. I would also take a nap for about an hour or hour and a half each day just so my mind didn't go completely into meltdown mode. It also helped manage stress and ensure I didn't become exhausted.

As for how I passed, Wiley printed books are the way to go. I will warn you that when Wiley says it is everything you need to pass the exam, that's because they don't condense anything. It is well organized and extremely thorough. You will learn things that you will not see on the exam, which leads many to the conclusion that Wiley is overkill. It led me to the conclusion that those people were the ones griping on about being surprised by SIM content. I was only surprised by 1 SIM throughout the entire exam, and that was on FAR and on a topic that ALL review courses skip because 'you'll never see it on the exam'. Yeah right.

My exact process was this:

For AUD, REG and BEC, I read every word of Wiley and took notes on almost everything. I went through about 40 legal pads and probably 20 pens throughout this process. As I was going through, I would work the MCQ's for each chapter where indicated. I didn't just do representative MCQ's, I worked every single one of them. Wiley doesn't repeat questions, each question works around the edges from different angles. It's important to do each and every MCQ. Once I was through the entire Wiley book, I took a week or so to rewrite my notes (on some sections, I typed them). Then after that I set in doing each and every MCQ about 2 more times. I created an excel worksheet with a spot for each MCQ from each chapter so that I could highlight the areas I missed. I had this printout for each run through the MCQ's and could watch as the MCQ's highlighted dropped off. Right before the exam I re-read the notes again and worked the questions once more. I basically didn't even use CPAExcel (it was far too condensed on the MCQ's IMHO). I did use it to practice the reasearch SIMS which are important because they are easy points but also can be tricky. Do them for each part.

For FAR, I was stymied. I tried doing the study plan above but it was just too much information. In the end, I tried doing notes from Wiley and CPAExcel and after about 180 handwritten pages from each, I realized I was only 1/3 through the course material. I lost hope and assumed my FAR exam would just be practice so I could get a feel for the exam and hit it hard on the redo. I bought the Ninja notes from and I read those and re-wrote those prior to starting the MCQ's. At that point, I had given up and figured that using the Ninja notes and doing the MCQ's I would create a framwork I could build on for the retake. I did each and every MCQ for FAR 2 times each and ran out of time. I focused hard on Gov't and NFP chapters as that seems to be heavily trending on the exams. Despite my false starts, I managed a 79. My lowest score but on that beast, I'll take it.

I know this was probably lot more information than you wanted but it is the gospel of how to pass. I've seen people try the other review courses that tell them to only try selected questions from Wiley printed book but they universally failed. You have to repeat the notes by re-writing them and do those MCQ's until you puke, clean it up and do some more. I don't know ANYONE who put in the effort in the manner described above that failed. They usually end up being mocked by those who failed as having overstudied.

Feel free to ping me with questions as you go through. It's so very very worth it. And you can have a life while going through it so your family doesn't hate you. You will be tired but it's definitely doable.

I just wish they gave EA CPE credits for passing REG. :D

Hey, Donnie - you did get a response on your "tax pro needed" discussion -

Since it was no longer on page 1 of the tax forum, it was unlikely to get any more responses. Maybe somebody who only reads the Practice Management/Business Growth forum would also have a suggestion - I've moved it there for now: Discussion:Innocent Spouse Tax Pro Referral Louisville KY. Although the response that you did get already seems okay, too (albeit from a brand new user, that day).

Trillium 02:15, 26 January 2013 (UTC)

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