Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Tax Season Therapy The Tweets Of Andrea Carr CPA

Do you think it's a coincidence that Girl Scout cookies are sold during tax season? I think not . -  Andrea Carr CPA
The tweeting of Andrea Carr CPA was one of the high points of this tax season, my fortieth and last.  I'm not done yet.  As hobbits have second breakfast, my tax practice has a second tax season focused on October 15, the extended due date for individual returns, but then I am done with returns except my own.  Still consulting and writing, but that is not really work.  Regardless, Andrea's tweets inspired me to dust off my never abandoned, but somewhat neglected Women in Accounting series.

The series was begun to address the mystery of why women make up less than 20% of the leadership in the public accounting profession, while they are in the neighborhood of 50% of the head count and by my unscientific estimate do about 80% of the actual work.  I've discussed that issue with all the women that I featured, but as with tax decisions, the story behind the story is often more interesting.

The Drama Of Tax Season
One of the things that I am fond of mocking is the drama that CPAs make out of TAX SEASON.  An instance of perspective on that issue is one I received when I interviewed Rachel Millios, who has been through a couple of tax seasons - and two tours in Iraq back when she was a soldier.  In her second tour where we she was working 12 hour shifts seven days a week, she was grateful that she had access to a bathroom, unlike the first tour where - never mind you don't want to know.

Nonetheless  I do have a little appreciation for the topic of tax season woes particularly if it can be done in a humorous, self-deprecatory manner.  And Andrea Carr does a great job of that while managing to acknowledge that it could be a lot worse.
I’m imagining showing up in a large arena with 5,000 other tax accountants, all bringing our best tax return, waiting 10 hours, & then having some 20-something say “you’re good but not quite I’m looking for”...because apparently this is what happens if you’re a singer/entertainer
More tweets are coming, but first let me introduce Andrea and give you her thoughts on the public accounting "woman question".

Third Generation

Andrea's father and grandfather were CPAs.  I am sure that I have run into third generation CPAs here and there, but I really can't think of any.  So you might think that it was some sort of calling for her.  Well, not so much. She went into accounting for the same reason that I did - the money.
I graduated in 2009 with a degree in economics, only to learn in 2009 there were no jobs for economics majors. Also by 2009, I had been fired three times as a waitress (social anxiety and poor hand eye coordination) and worked at over 20 service related jobs (5 in Dublin, Ireland, one which involved contacting the sex addict hotline to confirm their Gaelic name), but barely maintaining my employment by my ability to add and subtract in my head whenever the cash registers went down. I decided with the plentiful accounting jobs even in one of the worst economies, becoming an accountant was my best shot at maintaining gainful employment through most of my adult life , since the other jobs which were plentiful (food service, retail, etc.) weren’t going to work for me, the mute, dish-dropper.
Of course she had an edge thanks to her father.
I thought through my employment options very carefully when I went to work for my father.  My employment options were no other accounting firm would hire me.  This was somewhat similar to my father’s story where he obtained a physics degree only to learn he didn’t like any of the jobs provided by a physics degree so he became a CPA like his father.  My sister and brother-in-law actually have accounting degrees to go with their now inactive CPA licenses.  So I am a third generation CPA, where our family motto is “this is the only job I could get”.
Downside Of Paradise
Andrea lives in Oahu, where she grew up and is pretty rooted there due to her husband's farming career. Oahu is the most populous and third largest of the Hawaiian Islands.  It is supposed to be a great place to retire to, but maybe not such a great place for an accounting career.  The island is 44 miles long and 30 miles across.  I remember spending a weekend on Bermuda once and feeling a little claustrophobia because I could not get into a car and drive a couple of hundred miles if I felt like it.  Things are somewhat different thanks to the internet, but there is still something to be said for face to face interaction.  Andrea was taking an unconventional route into public accounting and being in a small market probably made it a lot harder.
It was January of 2010 when I moved back to Hawaii and really set my sights on becoming a CPA.  But I was told by lots of people the national accounting firms primarily hired out of the accounting club at University of Hawaii.  But not being a University of Hawaii student or an accounting major I couldn’t join the club.  The only way to join the club was to enter the masters program.  But the masters program cost around $20,000 at the time and I knew I only needed 4 classes for my CPA which I could get online for less than $3,000 in total.  And I really don’t like spending more money than I have to. 
Also her father's firm is a pretty good place to work.

The Woman Issue
I think that Andrea has some great observations that support my own theory that what could transform the industry is a couple of hundred women with ten to twenty years experience forming a firm
From a personal standpoint, where I’ve seen firms miss the mark when it comes to retaining mothers is autonomy and timely constructive feedback.  It’s not just above having a policy which says you have a flexible work schedule, but it’s giving new mothers the autonomy and trust to determine the best strategy to accomplish those objectives efficiently and effectively.  I think the autonomy factor is why women are often the leaders of small firms.
Smaller firms have less arbitrary rules as to how work should be accomplished and fewer inconsequential internal meetings, which disrupt the ultra efficiency methodology I see working mothers use to make it all work.
Every woman’s story is different, so inclusionary policies or diversity initiatives are hard to formulate.   I think there’s this natural tendency for all of us to see the person who works from 9:00am to 8:00pm everyday to be a more dedicated employee than the person who works from 7:00am to 5:00pm, eats with his/her family and then does another hour after the kids go to sleep.   Those result in the same number of hours, but because one of those employees is in the office at 8:00pm every night, he/she is seen as more committed to the job.  As a profession we need to fix this default belief and maybe even change it so we see the employee who pulls the 7:00am to 5:00pm schedule as the better employee.  Part of this is changing the metrics we use to evaluate employees for promotion.  Accountants know better than most that changing the metrics or the numbers you choose to focus on will yield very different results as to whether that company is seen as successful or not.    
That's that.  Let's move on to the tweets, which I have attempted to classify topically.


One of the things that can hold you back in your accounting career is not knowing enough about sports to carry on casual conversations.  Andrea seems to share that deficiency with me.
If you're tall, you will spend the majority of your life apologizing for not playing basketball, unless you're Lebron James or I guess, those lots of other people who play basketball which people like me do not know the names of.

Me: I hear the Washington Capitals are in the Stanley Cup. Husband: Name one hockey player Me: Ummm...Wayne Gretzky and Carrie Underwood's husband

So now my state can legalize sports betting? I've been waiting forever to bet on sand crab racing. How about pineapple growing? Is that a sport? its a long term bet. The possibilities are limitless. your move, governor.
Off Color
I've started to refer to tax loopholes as glory holes to make it sound more glamorous, but then someone just told me the definition of a glory hole, and I have regrets.

I didn't fart in the middle of downward dog in yoga today, so there's that.

Went to the bowling alley with toddler and a bowling ball from my husband’s extensive collection. Kids next to us kept commenting at how pretty a ball it was. I said “Oh thank you, you should see my husband’s other balls”.  Anyway now I’m probably on a list.
You know when you just leave the very tip of the pie crust and then congratulate yourself for self control. Well, I did that with 3 slices.

I'm thinking of adding the tagline "this girl can eat a lot of cake" to my linkedin profile

I’d take pictures of my food for instagram, but I’ve learned a Pringle can only be posed so many ways.

Everyone is all like “Congratulations, you’re pregnant again” and I’m all “I eat my feelings during tax season, ain’t no baby in here” Then silence.
First World Problems
The Windows "update and restart" notification is only meant to pop up once the user is on the brink of tears or punching drywall

Airport. Plane seats 200. Waiting area fits 50. Airport hunger games.
Toddlers are constantly testing how much peanut butter can be on a touch screen before it stops working

I get the idea of click bait, but instead of "hot singles in my neighborhood", I would think I should get "reliable babysitters in my neighborhood".

I bought this Google WiFi and it’s telling me I need a switch. How does it know my kid has disciplinary problems. Gotta be the search history.

I was trying to wash my screaming toddler’s hands and a little girl walked up to me and asked if she could do anything to help. I asked if she could be my child instead of the one I was holding

I felt like a great parent until I spilled a little beer on my kid
Usually my brain registers someone saying “don’t worry about it” as additional cause for concern.

I want a fool to carry my groceries, it would make for a nice jester.

Instead of asking someone to watch my laptop when I go to the bathroom I just make sure Google is up and the search is “how to clean anthrax off my keyboard?”

I was told I should kill people with kindness.  So I named the fly swatter “kindness”.

Do you think Dr. Pepper and Sgt. Pepper are the same Pepper or at least know each other?

People who rest their elbows on their shopping carts and move very slowly through the middle of the aisle are basically saying "this is all I plan to get done today, and you should follow suit"

My driver's license wouldn't scan at the pharmacy to buy pseudoephedrine and the pharmacist looked at me suspiciously. It was the greatest complement I've gotten all day since no one else ever believed I had the guts or the intelligence to make meth.

I'm just surprised anyone can say so nonchalantly “Hey, BTW, there’s a gun in the car I’m letting you borrow”. Welcome to Florida.
Accounting Nerd Puns And Jokes
There's nothing like the power of sitting next to the electrical outlets at the coffee shop

I'm sure someone believes United States Bullion Depository is where they keep treasury stock

But where on my taxes can I write off the time I spent anguished because someone didn't text me back?

I spent my first year at an accounting firm with my economics degree trying to figure out why accountants kept so many schedules. it just seemed more efficient to keep one calendar.

I refer to goats as de-bleat-able assets.

Some see lava, I see accelerated depreciation.

Accountant on a date - Accountant speaking conspiratorially: "So there are two entries..." Date: "Are you implying we get out of here?" Accountant: "No, i mean its double entry bookkeeping, and it's phenomenal".

Most accountants will either faint or end up doing the robot if ever asked to dance in public. Trust me, I've done both
Tax Season Stress
My tiredness is inversely correlated with my coffee standards

Finally tax day is done, and I can finally adequately research whether there really was a Night Court episode which contained an armadillo

I celebrated post tax season by googling “Why does my toddler try to drink his bath water?”

What tax season looks like: Husband wakes me up from my nap and says "Were you sleeping that whole time? our son has been blowing raspberries on your legs for a half hour" Me: "We have a son?"

Sec 199A, here's to the "small businesses" right? you know those $100 mil dollar small businesses. Still laughing and crying.

Client: "I called to pay my enormous bill" Me: "I love you."

Just drank coffee (and probably mold) from a mug that's been sitting there for 5 days. I'm doing great!

“Make it end, make it end” - me while crouching under my desk wondering if I can really do this anymore

Our bail bond company client left a bunch of pens in our conference room advertising their services and now it’s starting to freak out some of our other clients that their signing tax returns with a pen advertising bail bonds.

My favorite thing about CCH Axcess so far is that it shuts down from Saturday night to Sunday morning. so you know you're guaranteed one uninterrupted break during the week

Husband:”You look perturbed” Me:”I’m thinking about basis.

I've hit the part in tax season where I just put on the I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning album by Bright Eyes and weep softly to myself at my desk.

My Favorite
One of the things that I would get low grades on from my partners in cross evaluations was "executive presence".  It was mainly about various personal flaws that account for me not having been a cadet officer in my military high school, but it also related to my frugality in the clothing department.  This probably accounts for my choice of the all time, so far, best Andrea Carr tweet.
You know when someone walks in wearing something ostentatiously expensive, and they tell you they do this to portray a "certain image". I'm just surprised anyone intentionally wants their image to be portrayed as "insecure, selfish, douche with money problems"
The Rest Of The Series
For reference here are the other posts in my Women in Accounting series.
 Sylvia Dion - Where Are The Women?
Rachel Millios - Soldier To Tax Accountant
So as I prepare to hit publish on this, Andrea has 419 twitter followers.Be interesting to see what happens to that number.

Peter J Reilly CPA has been practicing accounting since 1978.  He still hasn't gotten it, so has taken up writing.

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