Tax season

Get Dialed In for Busy Season 2020 with These Remote Tax Prep Jobs

Winter is coming, as is Tax Season 2020. The folks at 1-800Accountant don’t want to see tax professionals left out in the cold, not putting their tax preparation skills to good use during busy season. So, the firm is looking to hire between 40 and 50 people nationwide to fill its remote seasonal tax preparer […]

alaska-tax-season-doj

Man Accused of Using Federal Funds to Purchase Plane, Guns, Porn Gonna Keep His Job Because Tax Season

Anyone who’s gone through a single busy season will tell you that there’s no messing around. It’s crunch time. That’s why many accountants go to work when they’re sick, forgo austere obligations, ignore their loved ones, and in general, compromise their principles to keep busy season moving along as smoothly as possible. Today we have […]

Area Police Department Offers Help to Drug Dealers Struggling With Tax Season Preparations

Apparently criminals in the Bourne, Mass. area are not getting the service they need from the local CPAs in a crucial time of year. Any crook worth his salt knows that taxes are to be taken seriously. If they can nail Capone with with tax evasion, they can nail anyone. Luckily, one police department recognizes […]

Opening Day of Tax Season Less Than a Month Away

Yesterday the IRS released some important dates for the upcoming tax season including the official start date: January 19, 2016. Also worth noting is that for 2016, the most overrated tax deadline of the year is April 18th because the District of Columbia will celebrate Emancipation Day on April 15th. This means auditors will have […]

Reminder: Worst Tax Season Ever Starts Today

For months, we've been hearing how bad tax season will be this year. Not just for you poor tax people, but for — gasp — taxpayers, even. See our post in November of last year: The Internal Revenue Service is gearing up to be hated even more than usual due to a “miserable” tax filing […]

NJSCPA Wants You to Sum Up Tax Season in Six Words

Oh, this should be good: In an effort to alleviate some of the annual stress and anguish associated with tax season, the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) asked CPAs to sum up tax season in just six words and post on NJSCPA social media, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Some of the […]

Going Concern Presents: Accounting Horoscopes — Tax Day Edition

Did anyone catch the blood moon last night? That wasn't a rare astrological event, it was actually representative of this year's filing season for tax accountants all over America. In honor of this most sacred of days, TAX DAY, GC asked me to come back and share my wisdom on what the stars hold for […]

This Person Really, Really Loves Tax Season

For all your misery as you drag yourself ever closer to April 15th, you have people like this on the opposite side of the spectrum: Y'all still ballin or nah? #TaxSeason I counted $3500 but I have bad eyes and am not that good at counting either so might need one of you to check […]

TIGTA Reveals There Are Still Stupid People Falling for Fake IRS Phone Scams

Despite having warned taxpayers over and over that the IRS does not and will not call you and demand you wire over some cash, apparently some people are still falling for this. So much so that TIGTA felt compelled to send out a friendly reminder: The Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (TIGTA) today issued […]

Suburban Cleveland Councilman Denies Getting in Brawl With Liberty Tax Sign Spinner

Continuing with today's theme of tax violence, avoidance and straight up creepiness, here's a strange story from (where else) Cleveland: A man paid to dress as the Statue of Liberty and promote a Brook Park tax business says City Councilman Tom Troyer shoved him Monday during a tussle over the business’ street side advertising. The […]

Missouri Man Assaults H&R Block Employee Because Tax Return

Is this turning into the most violent tax season ever or what? First the guy in Detroit shooting people over his lady friend not getting her refund in cash and now this. A Missouri man is facing a third degree assault charge after he allegedly choked the shit out of an H&R Block employee. Guess […]

Neighbors With Tax Software are Poaching Clients From Professional Tax Preparers

At least according to comments on this CPA Trendlines survey: Ray Nations, a leadership figure in the Virginia Society of Enrolled Agents, is also looking at some setbacks this year, and pricing pressures aren’t helping. “Clients are either using on-line software themselves or are going to their friends, or coworkers or neighbors who have an […]

Happy First Day of the Tax Filing Season!

LET'S DO THIS THING! pic via the AICPA on Pinterest Don't Mess With Taxes has the usual countdown clock up so you can keep track of just how many days remain in filing season, though we're pretty sure you don't need a clock, maybe just some ticks scratched into the wall like a criminal doing […]

GOP Congressman: Sprawling, Despised Government Agency with a History of Inefficiency That Just So Happens to Be a Convienent Political Target Is Misprioritizing Things Because ObamaCare

That is, Dave Camp doesn't believe the IRS's story that the shutdown is the cause of the delayed tax filing season: “The IRS claims that it will be unable to process tax returns on time, despite being able to do so multiple times in the past when it has been responsible for adopting major changes […]

2014 Tax Season Is Off to a Great Start

IRS delays opening of 2014 tax filing season for 1-2 weeks, citing shutdown…. — Richard Rubin (@RichardRubinDC) October 22, 2013

CPA Problems: Never-ending Revenue Modules, Waking Before Dawn, and Brat Taxes

With only three weeks until April 15th, some of you might like to be reminded that there are other people out there who are going through busy season pains just like you are. Unlike you, they have taken their suffering to Twitter and smartly labeled their problems as #CPAproblems which allows us to share them […]

Clearly, Tax Season Would Be Better If It Just Had More Cowbell

Busy season is not fun. If you pretend it's fun or if you expect me to pretend it's fun, you're an ass.  Now, I get it. Taxes are a big part of the reason I have a job, and I'm glad to have a job. So in a backdoor kind of way, I'm grateful for […]

Acting IRS Commish Warns That Tax Season Calendars May Need Adjusted

He just wanted to get this out there sooner rather than later: IRS Acting Commissioner Steven T. Miller warned Congress on Wednesday that if lawmakers fail to extend the traditional alternative minimum tax patch, up to 100 million American taxpayers could be affected, and most taxpayers might not be able to file their tax returns […]

POTUS and VPOTUS Have Released Their 2011 Tax Returns, Are Not As Rich As You Think

This just in from the White House blog: Today, the President released his 2011 federal income and gift tax returns. He and the First Lady filed their income tax returns jointly and reported adjusted gross income of $789,674. About half of the first family’s income is the President’s salary; the other half is from sales proceeds […]

This Woman’s Tax Season Has Been Infinitely Worse Than Yours

Yeah, we all have our tax season stories.  Like remember the day in April when you got arrested on charges of stealing from your business partner while your husband got arrested for making a drunken spectacle of himself at the local elementary school? You don’t?  Then your story can’t top this one out of the […]

Next Time You’re At the Bar, Order an Income Tax Cocktail

Not surprisingly, the Income Tax Cocktail (yes, it's real) doesn't sound that good. Don't get me wrong, I'm a creative drinker with my own shaker who likes to get wacky with the floofy drinks when I'm up for something other than Raging Bitch. But something about tons of vermouth and a dash of bitters just […]

Here’s Your March 15th Filing Deadline Open Thread

It would be remiss of us to not recognize today, March 15th, as the first big deadline of the 2012 tax season. This post serves as tribute to all of you tax jockeys whose tax season more or less ends today (but it never really ends, does it?). And for those of you still furiously […]

Late 1099s Lead To Awkward Confrontations at the Gym

According to Reuters, brokerage houses have upset some clients by needing more time to provide 1099s based on a new IRS rule that requires brokerages to report how much their clients spent on equities. Though some houses have informed clients of the delay and recommended extensions, some folks aren't too happy about that, including random […]

Seasonal Tax Preparers Would Be Wise to Dismiss Drug Trafficking As an Option in the Off-season

The life of the seasonal tax preparer isn’t for sissies.  You work your butt off for 15 or so weeks, neglecting family and loved ones, and then you still have 37 weeks to kill.   Some people just live off their tax season earnings and the odd extension.  Some find work that matches the tax […]

Tips For Filing Your Taxes For People Who Don’t File Taxes For a Living From the AICPA

Now, before the trolls rally and start complaining about how this post is stupid and totally useless for 99% of the people who read this website, let us all take a moment to remember that accounting professionals (I use the term loosely) aren't the only ones who read Going Concern. Plus, auditors despise taxes down […]

Accountant Can’t Bear the Thought of Serving Clients on the 100th Anniversary of the Titanic Sinking

As CPAs and capital market servants, you are all acutely aware that that serving clients to the best of your ability is priority numero uno. Forget your family and friends. Forget your pets. Forget your beloveds.  Clients complete you in ways that those other people/animals can't possibly understand. Sure, there is the occasional event that wouldn't allow […]

Tax Accountant, Who Had the Audacity to Be Away From His Desk, Spots Endangered Fish

Apparently Rick Beletti, takes a "daily stroll" and spotted an Atlantic sturgeon, which is a big deal, I guess. His employer would do well to chain him to his desk so that he can maybe he could get some work done instead of dreaming about becoming Bill Dance. [WCVB]

These Videos More or Less Portray What It’s Like Being an Accountant for Celebrities

Celebrities suck at taxes. This is known. From Young Buck to Jaime Pressly, there are no shortage of talented-ish people that find themselves in a world of hurt when in comes to complying with the IRC. How any accountants to the stars manage to keep their clients from completely losing their shit this time of year is anyone’s guess.

Luckily for us (everyone out there seems to be suffering from a busy season hangover), a couple of videos we stumbled across more or less put this niche expertise into perspective:


Alan Kaufman, Rock Star Accountant from Dan Meth on Vimeo.

The question over at TV.com, however, is whether or not SNL got its idea for Mort Mort Feingold, Celebrity Accountant from Alan Kaufman, rock star accountant. You can debate that if you feel so inclined but the realism of each is what’s noteworthy here. Anyone with firsthand experience in the A, B, C, or D celebrity clients is invited to share anecdotes at this time.

Five Tax Apps to Brighten Up Your Tax Season

Since IRS humor isn’t going to get us through the last few days of tax season, might as well turn to technology for some much-needed usefulness.


Let’s start with an app from the fine folks at the IRS themselves. IRS2Go lets you track the status of your refund and, if you’re of the tinfoil hat persuasion, may make you feel like you’re being watched by TPTB. Not using an iPhone? Try the Android version. To date, IRS2Go has been downloaded more than 250,000 times.

You knew it was inevitable that they’d come out with a tax app for iPad, which the TurboTax people have released just in time for April 18th. One small complaint from users is that the iPad version doesn’t let you log in to update or change current TurboTax info but other than that, this app allows you to prepare and e-file your taxes all without putting down your iPad. Make sure you deduct that $529 you spent on the thing while you’re at it.*

Also from TurboTax, SnapTax is a free app for iPhone and Android (what’s with the BlackBerry hate here?) that lets 1040EZ filers snap a pic of their W-2 to file. The application states it will do all the work for you and is free to try but $19.99 to file.

H&R Block’s free Tax Central app won’t do your taxes for you but it can help you find an H&R near you, estimate your tax bill and help you get together the documents you’ll need to file. It also features a nifty tax glossary in case you forget what AMT is. Tax nerds will enjoy the tax quiz!

Do you live in constant fear of both BPA-tainted receipts and an IRS audit? Stop filing your receipts away in a lead box and try TAX Organizer, which sorts your expenses and organizes your receipts on your device.

*Nothing on this site should be considered tax advice. If you’re really considering deducting your toys, please consult a tax professional.

Official: You Can Blame the South for the Income Tax

As you may have heard, 150 years ago today Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter which began the Civil War. This war turned out to be a pretty big deal as the Union victory effectively ended slavery. But what you may not be aware of is that it also led to the first income tax in our fair land.

From our friend and tax maven-cum-historian Joe Kristan (who somehow has time to post with less than a week to go in tax season):

The consequences of the war, surely unintended by the operators of this gun, included the end of slavery, a horrific death toll, and the first Federal income tax. While the tax was repealed after the war, the idea stayed alive; the federal income tax came back in 1913, and is still with us. So while you struggle with your 1040, save a word of “thanks” for General P.G.T. Beauregard and the rest of the Confederates who attacked Ft. Sumter.

Funny thing – lots of people in the South manage to have no tax liability so aside from LOSING THE WAR the whole thing is probably NBD.

A Government Shutdown Near the End of Tax Season Could Prove to Be Very Inconvenient

Since the IRS made it clear earlier this week that blowing off your 1040 is not an option, you best be on top of this if you want to file pre-April 18th. However, you might run into a wee bit of a problem if you go to the IRS for help.

In all, 92,000 [Treasury] department employees would be furloughed, with IRS staffers working during the height of tax season representing roughly two-thirds of the 35,000 who would still be on the job.

Still, around four out of every five IRS employees would be furloughed. Dan Tangherlini, an assistant Treasury secretary, reiterated in a blog post that taxpayers should file electronically to avoid potential delays in receiving a refund, and laid out other areas where IRS operations would be affected.

Taxpayers with audit appointments should assume their meeting is canceled, Tangherlini wrote, while walk-in IRS assistance centers would be shuttered and customer service phone lines would not be as easy to reach.

Treasury would furlough over 70 percent of employees in shutdown [The Hill]

A Government Shutdown Is Not an Acceptable Excuse for Blowing Off Your Tax Return

Doug Shulman wants you to put that notion right out of your mind:

Doug Shulman, the IRS commissioner, said that people who file electronically during a shutdown would likely not face any delays in having their returns – and potential refunds – processed. But taxpayers who file by paper, Shulman added, may see some delays. “We’ve got a 100,000 employees. Not all of them are going to be coming to work. But we’re going to have a complement here,” Shulman said. “The nuances of who is going to be doing what I’m not ready to get into. The most important thing for people to know is: We’re going to be accepting tax returns and people should file.”

So as Adrienne just mentioned, you can either ask the AICPA for help, call your tax advisor or simply curl up into a ball and shudder in the corner until the 18th passes.

IRS commissioner: You still have to file taxes during shutdown [The Hill]

CORRECTION: The AICPA Will Now Answer Your Last Minute Tax Questions

Correction: We regret to inform readers that no such assistance actually exists, the following is only meant for tax-stumped reporters who need help figuring out tricky tax rules.

Have no fear, little taxpayer, the AICPA is here to help you out if you’re stumped as to how to add up items H, K, L minus M x .412.

This year’s April 18 tax filing deadline is 13 days away, but approximately 59 million taxpayers still have to file their returns, the Internal Revenue Service said on April 4. These taxpayers are still collecting records, wrestling with forms and struggling to get answers to their last minute tax questions.

Edward Karl, vice president of taxation for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and other members of the AICPA tax staff are available to answer questions for end of tax filing season stories about credits, deductions, errors to avoid, what to do if you can’t pay the taxes you owe and what to consider if you need to file for an extension. Taxpayers should be sure to remember that their tax bill is due and must be paid on April 18, even if they file an extension; otherwise penalty and interest fees apply.

The IRS said about 58 percent of the approximately 141 million returns it expects to be filed this year have been filed. About 20 to 25 percent of returns are filed in the last two weeks and about 7 percent of taxpayers will file for an extension. The IRS’s numbers are based on filing statistics as of March 25.

If you are a taxpayer who needs helpyou’re more of the self-service type and prefer interacting with a website over an actual human being, check out the AICPA’s 360 Degrees of Taxes for tax tips and suggestions. We found the Help! I can’t pay my tax bill article to be especially helpful for those who are in the delicate position of owing a bunch of money to the IRS but not actually having any to pay the piper. While the suggestion to take out a loan or borrow from family to pay a due tax bill seems offensive at first, it’s reasonable given that a bank loan will probably carry a smaller interest rate than fees and penalties associated with not paying the IRS promptly.

BREAKING: Tax Season Leads to Poor Work/Life Balance for Accountants

This newsflash is brought to you by OfficeMax’s National “Tax it To Me” survey:

For busy accountants responsible for filing taxes on behalf of the approximately 82 million out of 228 million American adults who opt to use professional services, tax season is perhaps even more emotionally wrought. A busy plate often leads to a poor work/life balance, botched sleep schedules, poor eating habits, and problems in personal relationships.

And if you can believe that, the survey also found that taxpayers blame procrastination of filing their returns on nervousness, confusion and laziness (among other things). Now remove your hand from your forehead and get back to work.

[via The Hill]

The Waning Days of Tax Season Are Wearing Thin on at Least One Accountant

Michael Grossbach is taking it out on the help.

Michael Grossbach, 32, surrendered himself to police when he learned of his impending arrest for allegedly assaulting his office assistant on March 5, police said.

“Apparently there was an argument and he lunged at her, grabbing her hand forcefully,” said Sergeant Michael Buck of Irvington Police. “There were injuries, but nothing serious.”

Sergeant Michael Foley arrested the Garrison resident for having illegal physical contact with his 31-year-old employee at his accounting firm at 106 North Broadway. The defendant was charged with assault in the third degree, a misdemeanor. According to police, if convicted he is facing anything from a fine to one year in prison.

Irvington Accountant Charged with Assaulting His Assistant [RP]

IRS Commish Admits That a Government Shutdown During Tax Season Would Be Kinda Weird

The head of the IRS said Thursday that a government shutdown during tax season would be a challenge the agency has never confronted before — and one that would become more complicated as the April filing deadline draws closer. Doug Shulman, the IRS commissioner, also signaled at a House Ways and Means subcommittee hearing that his agency was discussing how to address a potential shutdown with the Obama administration, though he did not spell out any details of those talks. “We run a $13 billion financial services operation, so the idea of stopping it for a few days or a few weeks is strange,” Shulman said, adding that he was hopeful, based on ongoing negotiations, that a shutdown could be averted. [The Hill]

Johnson Jacobson Wilcox Ups the Bar on Good Times to Be Had During Tax Season

During tax season, many accounting firms attempt to provide their employees with “fun” things to do. Ordinarily a boss would rather you just qwitcherbitchin and do your job than take you to Dave & Busters or splurge for pizza but when employees are suffering from exhaustion, Excel-induced eyestrain and pants that grow tighter with each passing day, sometimes violence has ensued (or, at very least, passive-aggressiveness so frightening that it borders on assault). While we applaud the effort by firms to make things more pleasant, many of them suck at “fun.”

Las Vegas-based Johnson Jacobson Wilcox, for one, is trying to not suck in the fun department and it appears that they’ve been successful since they were named Best Accounting Firm to Work For in 2010 (15-49 employees) by Accounting Today.


JJW’s managing partner Gary Johnson realizes that most people are still hung up on the old accountant stereotypes and he’d like to debunk those (after rehashing them, of course), “Most people think of accounting firms and accountants as dull, without much of a personality — people with their heads down and green eyeshades on, who work all day long and don’t talk to too many people unless the phone rings. We’re just not like that. We like to have fun once in a while.”

In this particular case, fun includes a $500 clothing allowance for new hires, free lunch during tax season and a Wii bowling tournament.

Johnson Jacobson Wilcox runs a stress-busting Wii bowling tournament every tax season — 2011’s edition kicked off Monday — complete with a trophy. During the 24-employee firm’s busy season from mid-January to April 15, the company brings in free lunch for employees every day. The company also sends new hires an orientation binder complete with business cards two weeks before they start, and a $500 clothing allowance awaits them as soon as they walk through the door.

Obviously the $500 clothing allowance would come in handy for most of you (especially the fashion-handicapped types) but this bowling tournament – and the trophy – is what really got our attention. Of course the Wii hasn’t been around forever and prior to such technological miracles, JJW had actual bowling tournament every tax season. And fortunately for you all, we were able to obtain some footage of two JJW partners from the late 80s in an especially competitive match:

Trade journal chooses Las Vegas accountant best place to work in U.S. [LVRJ]

BREAKING: Accountants Work Long Hours, Get Stressed During Tax Season

Not only that but another shocking revelation is that they use caffeine to help them pull through this tough stretch.

They work 60-hour weeks this time of year, relying on pots of strong coffee and late-night dinners to help them calculate an endless swirl of numbers. Accountants are working feverishly to meet the deadline to file their clients’ tax returns this year even though they have extra time to do so.

Also, this just in – things get stressful because taxes are complicated:

The late nights can get intense, according to Carolyn Dolci, a tax partner in the Hackensack office of EisnerAmper. “It is busier than last year, partly because of the complexity of the tax code,” she said.

If you’re experiencing this phenomenon in your office, tell us your story in the comments below. Things will remain fluid for a few more weeks; we’ll keep you updated with any developments.

Accountants burning the candles at both ends [Star-Ledger]

Happy March 15th! (2011)

Today marks a great day for our tax troll friends as the first corporate filing deadline of the year. For many of you, this marks the end of the traditional tax season and for the rest of you it’s more of a speed bump but it’s a sure sign that the traditional tax season is winding down.

So as the interns slap together the extensions, maybe dig into your drawer for a little pick-me-up and look over your bracket one last time. Just keep an eye out for the Judases amongst you. As far as they’re concerned, the extensions should have been finished a week ago and you should already be a dead sprint towards April 15th 18th.

Tax Season Quiz: Which Item on This Receipt Is a Deductible Medical Expense?

This comes from a tax professional in the throes of a hectic day. Personally, I’m stumped.

So we’ve got:

A) Feminine hygiene products
B) Starkist Tuna
C) Orbit gum

Arguments for any or all are now being heard.

You Know It’s Officially Tax Season When Someone Threatens an IRS Office with a Bomb

Amiright? Apparently, this guy in Sarasota, Florida was just messing with everyone but, of course, that still doesn’t go over very well with the local authorities.

“About 11:45 a.m. a 59-year-old man walked into the center with a briefcase and a box,” said Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Paul Richard. “He placed it on what’s been described to me as a counter top and told personnel there that he had a bomb,” Richard said. IRS security personnel at the office managed to subdue the man and then hand him over to deputies. The office houses 60 employees, who were evacuated during the episode. The sheriff’s office bomb squad later confirmed there was no explosive or destructive device in either the box or the briefcase.

Man threatened Sarasota IRS office with bomb [TBO]

Jackson Hewitt Doesn’t Appreciate the Implication That They Suck at Preparing Tax Returns

Call it the discount 1040 wars (or something):

Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc sued H&R Block Inc to stop a new advertising campaign that it said misleads customers about tax refund loans and disparages Jackson Hewitt’s competence.


How disparaging? How about “two-thirds of the tax returns are wrong” disparaging:

According to the complaint, H&R Block falsely claimed that its “Second Look Review” program, which reviews past tax returns prepared by rivals, found that two-thirds of prior returns prepared by Jackson Hewitt contained mistakes.

“H&R Block’s 2 out of 3 claim necessarily implies the false claim that two out of three Jackson Hewitt customers who are entitled to refunds have been short-changed due to Jackson Hewitt errors or incompetence,” the complaint said.

Jackson Hewitt sues H&R Block over ads [MSNBC]

Tax Lawyer Pursuing CPA Needs to Know: Take More Classes or Cram with a Review Course?

Whenever the news is slow and you kids are quiet (I won’t expect to hear from many of you until after April but just in case, here’s my email), there’s always CPAnet to troll and here’s a good one: tax and estate lawyer pursuing the CPA wants to know if he should take a bunch of classes to prepare for the CPA exam before jumping in.

I promise to let him down gently.


Here’s the question:

I am a tax and estate planning lawyer and have been taking accounting and tax classes at UCLA extension in preparation for the CPA exam.

Since tax season is hell, I would only have the second half of the year to take a revthe exam. That means June – November (& January) 2011, 2012, or beyond. I am unsure whether I should continue taking classes such as (auditing, internal auditing, nonprofit accounting, etc.) for the next year and a half until June 2012… or whether I should just sign up for a review session this June after I take Intermediate Accting 3 & (maybe) Managerial accounting this spring quarter AND study my butt off in the review course.

Without sounding too much like an ass, I’m a fairly smart guy (top 20% in top 20 law school, passed bar exam) and a very hard worker. I have a lot of information under my belt but it may not all be relevant.

So, do I absolutely need to take the 2 auditing classes offered at UCLAX or the nonprofit accounting class or can I cram the review course material? I have heard that advanced accounting is unnecessary and I learned consolidations in Business Enterprise Taxation. I don’t know econ, but I looked at some practice questions and I got most of them. Supply and demand doesn’t seem too complex.

Am I crazy to skip these classes and rely on the review course? My experience with the bar exam was that the courses in law school were more likely to confuse than to help.

First off, my professional experience has been that whenever someone says “I’m a fairly smart guy” or “I’m no idiot” or “at least I am not like the senior who probably ate paint chips as a kid,” that candidate almost always has difficulty getting through the CPA exam. Why? Because brains have nothing to do with it, stupid.

I often explain it to candidates like this: the CPA exam simply tests your left brain’s ability to process and spit out information exactly as it was put in. We don’t need creative right-brained accountants (especially now that Lehman is kaput) so the more right brain spin your brain tries to put on CPA exam information, the worse you’ll do on the exam. “Smarts” don’t factor in, it is merely a test of entry-level knowledge and we all know you don’t have to be smart to be an entry level accountant. Hell, you don’t have to be smart to be a partner either but we’ll let that one go.

That being said, it’s important to recognize that there are two distinct universes: the CPA exam universe and the real universe. In CPA exam world, all cash flows use the direct method, accountants are always ethical bordering on neurotic and there is always a very clear answer for any query. In the real world, we use indirect to save time, have trouble passing the open-book ethics exam after four tries and sometimes have to choose the “best answer” without knowing for sure that it’s right.

While more education is almost always a good idea (unless you’re already over-burdened with student loan debt to begin with), it may be easier for our future candidate above to simply jump into a good CPA exam review and call it a day. Some of the cheaper review programs will only build on the candidate’s knowledge base or help familiarize with the exam’s format and content but the pricier, higher-quality reviews also provide the information the candidate needs to pass, regardless of their experience level.

Remember: because the CPA exam tests entry-level knowledge, you aren’t expected to be a expert in anything. Not everyone takes advanced accounting and while some of those topics are tested, any decent review course can give you just enough to scrape by if you aren’t familiar with those areas. Don’t waste your time taking extra classes unless that is a personal goal of yours and, if so, either do it before or after but not during your CPA exam attempt.

Some People Are Bent Out of Shape Over the ‘Compressed’ Tax Season

Earlier in the roundup, we linked to The Hill story that brought the unfortunate news that anyone itemizing expenses their tax return will “have to wait until mid- to late February to file their returns.”

The IRS is acutely aware of the problem but lucky for all of you, Emancipation Day falls on April 15th this year (and is effectively a national holiday for tax purposes), so the Service extended filing deadline is Monday, April 18th:

The Internal Revenue Service today opened the 2011 tax filing season by announcing that taxpayers have until April 18 to file their tax returns. The IRS reminded taxpayers impacted by recent tax law changes that using e-file is the best way to ensure accurate tax returns and get faster refunds.

Taxpayers will have until Monday, April 18 to file their 2010 tax returns and pay any tax due because Emancipation Day, a holiday observed in the District of Columbia, falls this year on Friday, April 15. By law, District of Columbia holidays impact tax deadlines in the same way that federal holidays do; therefore, all taxpayers will have three extra days to file this year. Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until Oct. 17 to file their 2010 tax returns.

The IRS expects to receive more than 140 million individual tax returns this year, with most of those being filed by the April 18 deadline.

Despite the extra 72 hours of fun, some people would rather focus on this “mid- to late February” business, namely, John Ams of the National Society of Accountants, as reported by NPR:

“What this has done is effectively compress the tax season from three months to just six weeks,” says John Ams, executive vice president of the National Society of Accountants.

Now, we don’t know Mr Ams backgound but his bio over at the NSA states that he is a Chief Audit Executive and we have no doubt that he’s a more than capable accountant. But most abacus wielders we know are pretty familiar with deadlines snafus, doing more work in less time and waiting on additional information. In fact, any accountant worth their salt has plenty of stories of pulling emergency all-nighters for week(s) to make sure a project gets accomplished on time only to get the very last piece of data needed at the 11th hour. NOW, when the IRS explains that Congress – who is only reliable for being unreliable – has forced their hand into this less-than ideal predicament, apparently it’s okay to get all huffy about it. [breathe] Look, the majority of the work on these tax returns can simply be done and then the 1040 jockeys will just wait for the rest of the information. It isn’t – as it’s popular to say – rocket science.

But forget about the shrinking tax season, Mr Ams wants you to think about the Luddites!

Some of the changes to the tax code will be a headache for tax preparers and their clients at the busiest time of the year, Ams says. One rule, for example, requires anyone preparing more than 100 returns per year to file them electronically, while the other forces tax preparers to get an identification number.

“Electronic filing is great and most accounts [sic] love it. But there are many clients out there, in particular the elderly, who still believe computers are the work of the devil,” Ams says. “They don’t want sensitive data like tax information going over the Internet.”

If people don’t want to e-file, Ams says, “we’re supposed to say: ‘Here’s your form. See ya.'”

Christ. We know grandmothers that use text messaging. Plus, CPAs have been saying “Here are your forms. Sign here, here, here and here. Oh, and here. See ya next year (but only if you pay),” for decades and people have made due. Can anyone explain how this is still a problem?

IRS Kicks Off 2011 Tax Season with Deadline Extended to April 18 [IRS]
The Tax Man Cometh, But This Year He’ll Be Late [NPR]

CPAs: Start Your Stimulus Engines

Apparently this video is from last year but whatevs. Since the new year is creeping up fast, it serves as a friendly reminder that all the tax jockeys out there carry some heavy responsibility, stimulating the economy year after year.


Okay, let’s forget about the refunds for two. What’s really worth noting is all the CPAs out there scarfing bagels and guzzling coffee from January until March/mid-April because their time is far to valuable to bother going to the grocery store to buy a piece of fruit. Then think about all the late night take-out. The profession is single-handedly keeping bagel shops, pizza joints and various Asian restaurants in business year after year.

Then Joe Kristan makes the following point:

Never mind that the refunds are a result of overwithholding, or anti-stimulus, the rest of the year. Actually, in a way, it underlines how all “stimulus” spending really works: it takes our money all year, and we’re supposed to feel stimulated when they give a little of it back.

So in reality, the only stimulus is CPAs giving a boost to various segments of the restaurant industry. It’s not ideal but it’s an annual boost they can rely upon, nonetheless.

[via Tax Update Blog via Tax Lawyer’s Blog]

What’s New in Business Taxation, Federal Payroll, and Retirement Plans?

Feeling ready for tax season? Ready for those Schedule C’s and Schedule F’s? Here’s a quick list of the things you will want to be familiar with to properly advise your small business clients.


• New Health Bill provisions. You’ll want to understand the small employer health insurance credit and what new employer health plans look like.

• Self-employed health insurance can be deducted on the business return for the first time, which reduces SE tax.

• Health reimbursement “qualified” arrangements

• The new $500,000 Section 179 expensing allowance, a brand new $250,000 Section 179 for real property assets including leasehold improvements and restaurant property, and the unexpected renewal of the 50% bonus depreciation.

• The 2010 Federal mileage, lodging and meal per diem rates. Recordkeeping for travel, entertainment and the new rules on cell phones.

• The “away-from-home-overnight” requirement for travel expense deductions.

• How to handle the blizzard of Form-1099Cs business clients are receiving and how this cancellation of debt income can be avoided or deferred.

• The status of “hobby loss” and the office-in-home limitation rules

• The new NOL carryback provisions

• The new depreciable lives on restaurant buildings

• The new 9% domestic production activity deduction, who qualifies, what qualifies and where to put it on the return

Got it all? Need help pulling all the information together? Get the details on these and other issues related to business tax in Part 3 of CPE Link’s Federal Tax Update webcasts scheduled November-January. Course includes downloadable manual containing hyperlinks to applicable code sections.

How CPAs Keep the Holiday Season Productive

The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight — everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.

The holidays: a nice, quiet time of year to enjoy with friends and family, while methodically preparing for the upcoming year and a busy tax season. The only problem is very few of us can afford to take off six weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year, let alone reduce our contact with customers and clients.

We interviewed a number of CPA firm leaders, from sole prs at large firms, to get their take, advice, and best practices on how to best spend time during the holiday season, while effectively planning for the upcoming year.


Communicate and get face time with clients

The welcome lack of immediate deadlines and calm before the tax season storm provides a great opportunity to get in touch with your clients.

“Every year I tell my clients that the holiday season coincides with the upcoming tax season, and that it’s a good time to get in touch and see where things are financially,” said Mark Eiger, CPA, a New Jersey-based accountant. “One thing you don’t want after Christmas is an April 15th surprise!”

Gail Rosen, CPA, recommends an e-mail communication.

“During my downtime, I like to use the software package Constant Contact to send e-mail updates to clients, contacts, and friends. For example, one update every tax practitioner should consider sending this year is a reminder to their clients that they only have until December 31 to do a Roth conversion without income limits and with the option of spreading the income over two years for tax purposes,” Rosen said.

“The last issue you want is clients who are upset that you haven’t informed them of all their options – and the deadline now has passed. I find that when I send this e-mail update, many people reply back. This exchange creates business opportunities I otherwise would not have had,” she said.

Michael Cecere, a partner at Gray, Gray & Gray LLP, hits the road to get some face time with his clients.

“The holidays can actually be a pretty intense time period with a lot of face-to-face meetings,” Cecere said. “It’s a bittersweet time because we’re busy now, and busy after!”

Stay aggressive on business development

‘Tis a great season to be focused on marketing and networking, recommended James Guarino, a partner at Moody, Famiglietti & Andronico, LLP. “This time of the year, we’re always meeting with clients and networking with our contacts, getting out into the public, and letting people know that we’re available if and when we’re needed.”

Cecere agrees. “The business development element never stops – it can’t take a back seat. We continue to attend networking events, conferences, seminars, and set up meetings. In addition, more companies are back to hosting holiday parties, so we’re becoming busier attending our clients’ parties.”

Self-improvement, continuing education

Most accountants agreed that the relative calm of the holiday season provides a good opportunity for conducting evaluations, performance reviews, and catching up on continuing education.

“We’re continually educating our staff, so at the end of the year, we conduct a lot of in-house training,” Guarino said. “We want to familiarize them with the software and tax systems they’ll use during the upcoming tax season.”

His firm, and others we spoke with, also dedicates a significant portion of time during November and December to evaluations and performance reviews.

Review of tax law

Guarino’s team also makes it a point to review current-year tax law and proposed tax law. “Clients want to know how to improve their tax situation – both for current and future years,” he said.

Steven J. Elliott, tax director at Schwartz & Company, LLP, does the same, saving “time for major tax planning opportunities for both business and individual clients in order to best advise them about year-end tax payments and other planning items, such as minimum IRA/retirement distributions, Roth IRAs, stock trading activity, and more.”

Recharge your batteries

Historically, the holiday season was a time to enjoy with loved ones, and generally chill out a bit; but that’s easier said than done in 2010.

“It’s tougher to disconnect now than ever before,” said Cecere. “Times have changed now that we’re plugged into e-mail 24/7. It’s a never-ending cycle because you’re always connected; the higher up the ladder you go, the greater pressure you’re under to respond quickly.”

Guarino’s firm makes it a top priority to remove as many obstacles as it can to enable employees to recharge their batteries. From October 15 until the beginning of December, they make it a point to take time off to reenergize.

Elliott agrees with this strategy. “Best of all, it’s a time when more family time/vacation can take place in and around the special projects. We need this time to recharge the batteries for the next busy season. And, although it is usually a quieter time, there is always something to do!”

How do you handle customer and client activity during the holidays, and what does your firm do to renew and energize its employees? Send me a note and I’ll tweet your responses on the Chrometa blog.

About the author:
Brett Owens is CEO and co-founder of Chrometa, a Sacramento, CA-based provider of time-management software that accurately records and reports back how you spend your time. Previously marketed to only the legal community, Chrometa is branching out to accounting prospects. Gains include the ability to discover previously undocumented billable time, saving time on billing reconciliation and improving personal productivity. Owens is also a blogger and founder at ContraryInvesting.com, as well as a regular contributor to two leading financial media sites, SeekingAlpha.com and Minyanville.

Ernst & Young Employee Disappointed with Boston Office’s Party Planning, Lack of Boozehounds

From the mailbag:

EY Boston Tax had their end of busy season party last week. On Tuesday, we had beer and wine in the office. Considering everyone had to work through the first football sunday of the year, the least they could do is get us drunk on a Thursday so we can enjoy ourselves. Who’s gonna get drunk in the office on a Tuesday? [Ed. note: show of hands?]

I have to say I’m disappointed with the social/drinking scene at this place compared to other Big 4s in this market. Pretty stiff, but I feel like the firm takes pride in that–I have no idea why.

Without the proper context, it’s difficult to know what kind of a drinker our tipster is. If he/she is merely a two wines/beers and out person then E&Y Boston is really bucking the trend in that fair city. However, if the tipster is Charlie Sheen, then there’s no cause for concern.

Any Bostonians familiar with the situation are invited to elaborate on the Big 4/next tier drinking scene below or share with us directly.

Tax Associate Who ‘Can’t Handle’ Public Accounting Searching for Options

Back with another edition of “I’m an accountant and my career is in the crapper,” a tax associate just finished their first year with a mid-tier firm and has discovered that public accounting isn’t exactly the glitz and glamor they were expecting. NOW WHAT?!?

Have a question about your career? Determined to keep a promise to yourself but are surrounded by Big 4 hotties and don’t know what to do? Someone digging at your career choice and need a devious plot to get back at them? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll help you make a solid decision.

I’m a first year tax associate at a mid-tier firm and after running through my first spring and fall busy season of working 70-80 hours a week, I’ve basically come to the conclusion that this lifestyle is “not my cup of tea”. The reasons are pretty typical, no life, managers hate me, don’t like the people, the culture is toxic, if you leave at 8:00 pm you feel like the world is watching you leave, etc. etc. For those who want to say “well you just couldn’t handle it”, you’re absolutely right, I couldn’t. I [also] know a number of associates in numerous service lines at the end of their respective first year just find that their job is not for them. My question is, what kind of outs do people in this situation have? I know that the option to transfer to another service line and the standard “just grind it for another year” are typical responses, but what other options are there? And how do recruiters view those who have only one year of experience at a public accounting firm?

Thanks!

-OneFootOutTheDoor


Dear OneFoot,

At the beginning of your letter you sound as though you were engaging in a little self-loathing. Sort of like, “Nobody likes me. I’m a pathetic human being because I can’t find it in my heart to LOVE public accounting. What do I do?” Then you admit that there are others around you that hate it as much as you. This surprises no one. Accounting firms see this happen every year: a first year associate realizes quickly that this isn’t their ‘cup of tea’ as you put it. If you’re truly as miserable as you sound, the fact that you made it through both the spring and fall tax seasons is impressive. We’ve seen associates turn in their papers less than six months on the job.

Does this make you a terrible person doomed to a lackluster career that would make Milton Waddams look like an employee of the month? Of course not. You mention the popular options “transfer to another service line” or “grind it out another year” and we agree that they don’t make a damn bit of sense if you’re simply over public accounting.

Realistic options for you are to start talking to professional recruiters and be honest with them about your situation. No recruiter worth their salt is going to say, “Can’t help you kid, move back in with your parents.” They’ve seen others like you – public accounting wasn’t a good fit and you want out stat. The reality is that because your experience is so brief, you might end up in another entry-level position; the sooner you accept that as a possibility, the better. That being said, what you must, must, must, must do OneFoot is give the recruiter a good idea of what you want to do. We know that doesn’t include public accounting but what kind of job would you really like? Knowing that will go a long way helping them get you the job you want. Until you can answer that questions honestly, you’re not going to be happy in any job – public accounting or otherwise.

Deadline Watch ’10: Happy September 15th!

Whether this marks the end of your tax season for 2010 or is just a pit stop on the way to October 15th, it’s certainly a day that gets marked on the calendar of many a tax sage.


In case you’re completely oblivious to the significance of this day, it marks the extended filing deadline for corporations, partnerships and trusts. That amounts to metric asston of returns and there’s probably more than a few people that suffer nervous breakdowns on the road to this annual deadline.

Whether or not you’ll be drinking your lunch today, it’s a nice reminder (or an excruciating one) that all things – including CFOs and Lindsay Lohan (what’s taking so long?) – eventually pass.

You can express joy or resentment about your successful completion of tax season 2010. It was your last, right? Sure. We’ve heard that before. Anyway, if this marks end, go enjoy yourself this evening.

But of course, we haven’t forgotten that there are plenty of you that have 30 days to go. Feel free to bitch and moan and then get back to work.

Email Reminds KPMG Tax Group That You Best Remain Chargeable in the Summer-Fall Busy Season

As summer creeps to a close, that means one thing for Big 4 tax compliance folks – Busy Season 2.0. In a lot of ways, this time of year can be worse than the late winter/early spring as the drop deadlines approach and your deadbeat clients that never get you what you need on time remind you why they are your deadbeat clients.

It also means the return of mandatory 50+ hour weeks (that’s on the low end). Typically a simple communication from one of the higher-ups in your group should suffice but sometimes a few extra instructions get included. This was the case in an email sent to the troops in KPMG’s Fed Tax Group in the Dallas office yesterday afternoon:

From:

Sent: Wednesday, August 04, 2010 2:42 PM

To:

Subject: 2010 Fall Busy Season Hours

The summer-fall busy season is now upon us. Effective immediately through September 15th, all senior associates and associates in the Fed Tax practice should have a minimum of 50 hours of chargeable work per week. If you don’t have work to fill this time, please contact Elizabeth Emerson immediately with your availability and she will work to assign your time to projects. New this year, if you have any unassigned time, the expectation is that you will send a short email to your manager and copy [redacted] on a daily basis with the number of available hours (out of 10) that you have to work on projects. As you are assigned please remember that it is imperative to keep [your timesheet] updated and accurate.

Thanks in advance for all your hard work and efforts during this busy season.

The “short email” probably won’t apply to many SAs but there are probably more than a few A1s and A2s that will find gaps in their day and a quick typing of “I’m unassigned for X hours” today will probably suffice. Annoying? Yes. Necessary? Perhaps. As everyone knows, if you’re not fully chargeable, it could mean the end of your illustrious Big 4 career (and even if you are, that might not save you) and Fed Tax compliance is known a popular group for layoffs come post-October 15th.

But our source interpreted the email this way:

I guess we will have to start asking for permission to check emails and take bathroom breaks, otherwise we will have to “send a short email on a daily basis” explaining why we were unchargeable for 30 minutes a day…

So tax people – how do you read this email? A friendly reminder with a simple request or just one more thing to lump on your pile? Discuss.

Tax Season Ends Thursday Which Means You Don’t Have to Hit the Snooze on Friday

Along with improved personal hygiene, the end of busy/tax season brings the end of sleep deprivation.

Yes, we realize that some of you dolts out there that like to boast that you still dominate your workload on as little as 3 or 4 hours of sleep are either A) lunatics or B) so delirious that you don’t realize that you’re on the brink of lunacy.


FINS surveyed some tax pros about their sleeping habits and found that on average, those surveyed only got 6.8 hours of sleep and that 30% of them felt fully rested while at work.

For the rest of you, getting the 7 to 9 recommended hours of sack time will not only benefit your health (sleep deprivation is also related to weight gain) but it also could result in a safer work environment.

Not to mention that your significant other will appreciate the additional attention which might, if you’re lucky, result in other nocturnal activities as opposed to just sexting. Unless of course you happened to fall bassackwards into a work relationship then you can keep up the cubicle sex as you see fit.

Tax Accountant Survey: Sleep, a Career Casualty [FINS]

One Firm’s Tax Season Tradition Ignores the “Beards Are Kept Trim” Mantra

All firms realize that tax season is a grind and put up with various silly/downright stupid traditions for the sake of employees’ morale. There’s no work/life balance to speak so concessions are made. In anticipation for the annual tradition that is tax professionals raging on April 15th, FINS has compiled a few interesting traditions that are carried on by various firms. The idea, however, that men are walking around the office sporting the Grizzly Adams defies comprehension.


For you purists of the white collar world, facial hair makes you ill. The sight of five o’clock shadow is downright repulsive and anyone that isn’t shaving at least daily (except for the flesh-colored beard types) will not be dealt with a swift manner.

Unless of course you work at Traphagen & Traphagen CPAs LLC where the tradition of tax season beards goes back 40 years. At that length, it may precede any NHL playoff tradition of funky facial hair, “”At the close of business, they’ll troop into a conference room and together shave the beards they’ve been growing since the end of January.”

As you might expect there are client requests to send the remains to the IRS but unfortunately the partners don’t honor these requests.

Thank God It’s Over — Let’s Party! [FINS]