By Parker Brunson, Tax Accountant
Working at Weinstein Spira as a tax accountant since September 2018, I can honestly say there’s always a lot happening on any given day, whether it’s the busy season or not.
Driving to Work
My day begins with driving 30 miles into Houston from Brookshire (west of Katy, TX). Yes, it’s a long commute, so I get an early start. This is actually a great time for me to relax by listening to music, reflecting and gathering my thoughts about what I want to achieve that day and to call and chat with my dad, who’s also an early bird.
It’s still quiet when I arrive at the office between 7:30 and 8:00 am, so I get some hot coffee going and settle in to read my emails before the hustle and bustle begins. I also check our XCM system (a business platform for managing the firm’s workflow) to see if any specific tasks have been assigned directly to me. If nothing is directly assigned to me at that moment, I check the XCM “Pool,” which has miscellaneous unassigned tasks that anyone can pick up on a first in / first out basis.
My workload and tasks for the day depend on the time of year since public accounting is a cyclical business. Of course, from January until April 15th, the tax team goes crazy with IRS tax return preparation to ensure on-time submissions for our clients. The summer tends to be slower, but things pick up again as September approaches when I mostly work on business tax returns that were extended; while in October, I work on individual tax extensions. After October 15th, we begin to move into another slow season, which is when I help take care of administrative tasks, such as migrating client computer files from the past tax year to the next tax year. We actually use a software application called Engagement that electronically houses client information for business returns into “binders,” that are complete with tabs to collect and organize work papers, making it easy to roll over from end-of-year balance to beginning-of-year balance, with no additional setup.
We are encouraged to help other departments, as time permits, which provides continual learning about all aspects of accounting. Additional housekeeping tasks between October and the beginning of January include filing 8879 Forms that give us permission to electronically file IRS returns on behalf of our clients. These forms must be obtained with authorization signatures, scanned and properly filed in our Document system since we are a paperless office. I just grab a handful and start going through them! The same applies to various notices that our clients receive from the IRS and other authorities, regarding discrepancies or misunderstandings we must research and resolve, doing our due diligence and often calling the agency or authority to report our findings…this is where keeping good records comes into play, down to the date that anything is mailed from our office.
Working on taxes can be a sedentary job, so I try to break up the workday, including opportunities to socialize with colleagues. I join other tax preparers in a daily stroll down the hall to our coffee station and make it a point to attend our team’s weekly offsite lunches at nearby restaurants (or at the great food court right in Greenway Plaza). Then, after work, there may be an extracurricular activity to partake in, as Weinstein Spira hosts several after-work events throughout the year, such as the Open House to allow those interested in joining the firm to tour our offices and see first-hand where the magic happens. I eagerly took advantage of participating in this and was proud to show off my office that night while mingling with the well-turned-out crowd. I also look forward to getting involved with off-site recruiting initiatives and hopefully being able to visit my alma maters, Texas A&M and the University of Houston, to search for new talent for the firm.
If there is still time in the day, meetings and training opportunities will fill that gap to stay on top of everything that’s happening internally and externally, like the time we had a tax specialist give us a seminar on the new tax laws that were passed for the 2018 tax year. And lest I forget, the “Fun Brigade” will not allow a dull moment, as this committee plans frequent games and challenges that support getting acquainted with staff across different levels and areas of the firm. For example, when new to Weinstein Spira, I collaborated with fellow new hires to hold a contest involving yard-size Jenga blocks with ice-breaking questions associated with us that everyone else had to “guess who…?” This serves to show that accountants are human, too, and like to have fun at work.
At the end of the day, I have the same 30-mile trek home, during which I make it a point to call friends and colleagues. It fits my communication style to have these live conversations, as I’m not much of a social media guy. This also gives me time to review the day and unwind for the evening.
The next morning, it starts all over again…another wonderful day serving the firm, our clients and the community. Weinstein Spira is really one of a kind!