Practice Lab TY 2017 Massachusetts Software

Please be aware that the current version of Practice Lab 2017 Massachusetts software is preliminary and that the final version will not be available until January. The State Management Team (SMT) is already aware of several problems / inaccuracies, including the Circuit Breaker calculation, and is working with TaxSlayer Support to have them corrected. Please do not submit any problems to TaxSlayer directly, but rather send them to the SMT so we can submit them to TaxSlayer, track them, and keep National informed.  We will continue to vet the software for accuracy and completeness as updated releases are issued – we appreciate any and all help we can get in that process.

Practice Lab 2017 – Massachusetts Returns

It looks like you can now do state returns in Practice Lab 2017.  That’s great news.

If you find any errors, please let me know (via the contact button on this blog or direct email) so we can keep a list. This will save everyone from re-discovering problems we already know about and give us a tracking mechanism to make sure problems are identified/fixed.  As we understand more we’ll provide more updates and information.

Have fun!


Massachusetts Tax Changes

The Massachusetts DOR has posted their draft Form 1 and related schedules. The instructions are not yet available.

For a summary of the proposed changes, see their Tax Year 2017 Personal Income Tax Changes posted on their website.

Practice Lab 2017 (and the production software, when released) does not yet include the ability to create state returns — we don’t expect to see that until January 2018.

Efiling – Modernized E-File System Shut Down to Prepare for New Season

This is for those volunteers who efile returns.

The IRS announced that they shut down the Modernized e-file system — the system that processes the efiles — on 18 Nov 2017 to prepare for the upcoming tax season. All returns must now be paper filed until the system is turned back on for the new season.  See the IRS’s IR-2017-183, 31 Oct 2017, news release for more information.

Practice Lab

TaxSlayer has corrected the previously reported problem with carryover losses and the losses are now carried over to Schedule D correctly. This affected the Advanced Certification test Advanced Scenario 6 (Quincy and Marian Pike); you can complete the problem correctly now.

As a reminder: you should follow or periodically check the TaxSlayer blog to keep abreast of any TaxSlayer changes.

Practice Lab and Certification

Practice Lab 2017 was activated yesterday, 15 Nov 2017, for federal returns only. In parallel with that, the IRS’s Link & Learn site was also activated.  That means you can now start to take your certification tests online.

One note of caution: the printed version of Form 6744, VITA/TCE Volunteer Assistor’s Test/Retest that you received as part of your training package is missing page 92. You must download that page from the electronic version Form 6744, VITA/TCE Volunteer Assistor’s Test/Retest. It looks like this:

TaxSlayer has also reported a Practice Lab 2017 problem with short- and long-term carryover losses not carrying forward to Form 1040.  See this post from the TaxSlayer blog:  Practice Lab 2017: Short Term and Long Term Loss Carryover.

That means that you cannot complete the advanced certification test until this is fixed. When resolved, TaxSlayer will post that information on their blog. We highly recommend you either follow or frequently check the TaxSlayer Blog for status updates on Practice Lab 2017.


We’ve received some questions about training and the workbooks over the past week; this post attempts to answer some of those questions.

Practice Lab

All training and certification test returns must be done on the IRS’s Link & Learn Practice Lab. Never do any practice returns on the production site. The link for Practice Lab is and the opening screen should look like the following.  The password is the same as it was last year; contact your district/local coordinator or instructor if you don’t remember it.

Once you’ve accessed the site, enter your unique username and password.

If you’ve forgotten your username, click on “Forgot Username,” enter your email address, and Practice Lab will email you the username associated with that email address (check you spam folder if you can’t find it). Remember that you cannot change the username associated with your email address.

If you’ve forgotten your password, click “Forgot Password.”  You will have to answer the secret question that was created when your account was set up.  If your district set up the account for you, contact your district or local coordinator for the correct answer to the secret question.

Training Workbook

Each district is responsible for training its new and returning volunteers. Starting this season, we have created a state-wide Training Workbook with Consolidated Workbook Answer Key (TSO 2016) that each district can, but is not required to, use. Currently, the workbook is available online only; districts may print some or all of the workbook to use during training. We will evaluate the utility of the workbook at the end of the season to determine what changes need to be made and if it was useful enough to print hardcopies for next season’s training.

NTTC Workbook

The NTTC Workbook is an optional workbook developed by the National Tax Training Committee. Its practice returns are federal only — which is why we developed the Massachusetts Adaptations. The Workbook is available online at OSHC. Your district or  local coordinator can also order printed copies through the portal. Contact your district/local coordinator or instructor to see if they use the NTTC workbook as part of training and if he/she ordered them. The federal answer key is available only through your district management. The answer keys for the Massachusetts Adaptations – done in TSO 2016 – can be found here: Massachusetts Adaptations Answer Key using TSO 2016 (Core) and Massachusetts Adaptations Answer Key using TSO 2016 (Comprehensive).

If you have any specific questions about training schedules, locations, or content – it is best to start with your district/local coordinators – they will know what’s planned for you.