The Tax Busy Season
Tax Busy Season for the External Auditor and / or the Accountants
Here in the Philippines and in other countries where the annual income tax filing deadline is around April of every year, the busy season usually kicks off around January, right after the New Year’s celebrations. For some, it can be as early as November of the previous year. The height is on April where everybody is just scrambling to finish off everything in time for the tax deadline.
Working double time during the busy season has become a part of the culture in the auditing or accounting world. For accountants, this is the time when we close the books for a whole year’s worth of operations. For auditors, this is the time we do all our year-end audit procedures for all our clients, and we have less than four months to finish all of them. And finish all of them is what we do (by hook or by crook) because, hey, we don’t really want our clients to be late and get slapped with interests and penalties, right? So we work our butt off just to meet the deadline.
Just some of the effects of the tax busy season
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So what does the tax busy season really entail for us accountants? Let me just enumerate a few:
Late nights. Okay. How late is late? Let me see. 10 in the evening? 12 midnight? 2 in the early morning or 4 in the early morning? I’ve gone through all these and more and I’m betting a lot of people will be going through these late nights starting this January. When I was still in an auditing firm, my normal hours from February to April were like 9 am to 2 am the following day. Now that I’m on my own, I go to sleep at around 11 pm.
Overnights. There are really times when a 20-hour day is not enough to finish the job. The solution? Extend it to 24 hours or working overnight. Thank goodness, I didn’t experience a lot of overnights but I do know of people who can go 3 days without any sleep and they do this often! Sleep is sometimes a rare commodity during the busy season when you’re working as an auditor or as an accountant.
Week-end work. As if the late nights or overnights are not enough, we also work during the week-end, even on Sundays! The good thing about this is that we can come to the office late in the morning or in the afternoon (thus giving us the chance to catch up in our sleep in the morning). The bad thing is, it’s a week-end and we are still working! Oh well.
Pressure. This is the time when we feel the pressure really mounting. For one, we can’t be late. If we are going to be late, it’s the fault of the client, not ours. For another, we have to ensure that we are not sacrificing the quality of our work for speed. And still another, we have to keep our sanity intact even though the pressure is mounting (though I have never seen an auditor or accountant going crazy during the busy season, but there’s a first time for everything, right?).
Hotheads. Okay, combine late nights or overnights with week-end work and pressure and what do you get? Tempers flaring all around! Not that I’ve seen a lot of shouting matches but I know when the atmosphere around the office starts to get really, really heavy that some tempers are really going up (mine included). As for shouting matches – define shouting – some would just say that they are just raising their voices to be heard (if that’s their definition, then I don’t know what a shout is). But hey, if you work in an auditing or accounting firm, you have to know that this really happens during the busy season.
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Demanding clients / boss. Not satisfied with the above? Then how about topping it all off with demanding clients and/or boss? The busy season is the time when all your clients seem to be calling you, telling (okay demanding) you to prioritize them (or else?). Or what about your boss / partner or boss / manager (I used to have around 3 to 4 every busy season) who wants you to prioritize what they want you to do (regardless of the fact that you’re up to your neck already from doing a lot of things)?
Multi-tasking. If there’s one occasion when I really see multi-tasking at work, it is the busy season. This is the time when we learn how to talk on the phone with a client, while answering an email from another client or from your own boss, while looking at the working papers of your audit juniors and while trying to research on that accounting issue that your boss needs you to submit a document on a few hours from now. Get the drift now?
And finally, so many things to do, so little time. There are just so many things that we can do with our time during these three and a half months and really, there’s a big possibility that some of the things we need to do, we end up not doing at all. It’s a matter of knowing one’s limits and knowing what one needs to prioritize. At the end of the day, we make sure that everything is really finished. The question remains – will they be finished before we release the financial statements or after?
So there you have it. What the (tax) busy season entails for us, auditors and accountants. Have to catch my breath here as just reading through the list makes me wish the days will drag by until we hit January 2010 and start another round of tax busy season again. So, if you don’t see too much of me here in HubPages, you’ll know why. Cheers and ciao!