My Experience in the Rotation Program: Audit and Tax

by | Apr 10, 2024 | Culture, Career

Many accounting students, ready to embark on careers in public accounting, face an important decision between specializing in tax or audit. Firms often hire based on internal needs, yet some, like Weinstein Spira, offer a rotation program that empowers candidates to discover their best fit. For someone who has not had an internship under their belt, this rotation program is an amazing opportunity. The rotation program allows new accountants to explore the best of both worlds, gain a better understanding of what it takes to perform in each field, evaluate the pros and cons of each, and ultimately decide on the direction in which they want to grow in accounting. In January 2023, I started my accounting journey at Weinstein Spira as a rotational staff member, spending approximately six months in each department. In this blog, I will share my experience, working in both tax and audit.

Experience as a Tax Staff

When working in the tax group, one might assume familiarity based on personal experience of filing your individual taxes. However, this assumption is incorrect. Filing complex forms like 1065s or 1120s is a whole different story, requiring in-depth accounting and tax knowledge. Tax accountants must navigate through financial statements, journal entries and depreciation schedules with a focus on precision, tie balances, and correct numbers. Moreover, tax work is characterized by strict deadlines, making it ideal for those who like the rush and fast rotation of projects. April 15, commonly known as Tax Day, is the main deadline but it is not the only one. Different forms entail multiple deadlines.

The tax season is much shorter in comparison to the auditing season, primarily because companies need time to close their books and provide the proper information for reporting their taxes. Hence, the window for tax filing is reduced, resulting in working longer hours within shorter periods of time, also known as the “busy season”. During these weeks, finding time to socialize or be with family can be challenging. However, there is ample time and opportunity to plan vacations and time off since busy season happens twice a year, each lasting about eight weeks.  Time management is key to having work-life balance during busy season, year after year. Additionally, the pressure of time is a significant factor. Tax preparation work is billed based on an estimated number of hours. Therefore, there is an allotted time to complete assigned tasks. However, at Weinstein Spira, management is very understanding of everyone’s skills and the complexity of the tasks. They are supportive and always willing to answer questions, which helps to increase the staff’s knowledge.

Interested in learning more about our rotation program? Learn more here!

Experience as an Audit Staff

On the other hand, there is also the choice of specializing in audit. Auditing involves examining companies’ financial statements, making sure they comply with GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles). One of the advantages of audit is the allowance for a degree of flexibility within the materiality threshold under risk assessment, meaning corporate numbers do not need to be exact if they are within this threshold. Overall, there is more flexibility in comparison to the precision required in tax. The audit season varies depending on client deadlines. Therefore, your workload will change based on the client. With audit, there isn’t a singular universal deadline date. Task hours in auditing are often spread out over a longer period than for tax work. Additionally, auditing is ideal for those who like to work as a team. Audits are conducted collectively, with team members working independently but in constant team communication. Furthermore, auditing requires on-site visits with clients to either work on their audits or perform inventory counts, providing opportunities to expand professional networks more rapidly than in tax.

At my firm, auditing has a longer busy season in the spring for the first five months of the year and another busy period in the fall for benefit plans. Auditing also requires the preparation of clear and detailed work papers. This is where writing skills are put to practice and soft skills are a must. However, do not let that be intimidating, with time this is a skill that can be improved. Another part of auditing is inventory counts. Some days, inventory counts are done at organized warehouses. Other days, they are done in the middle of summer or winter and require a lot of walking and looking for inventory items. No inventory count is the same so, if you enjoy variety, auditing a company with inventory might be for you.

In Summary

Regardless of the specialization chosen, developing soft skills is essential, since both tax and audit require constant communication, either with colleagues or with clients. Finally, asking a lot of questions is important to find out what aligns best with one’s interests and skills. This results in enjoying work as an accountant, enhancing performance, and making the learning process more rewarding.

Participating in a rotation program is a great opportunity when starting a career in accounting, allowing for firsthand experience of each field’s pros and cons to make an informed decision. When I made the choice to focus on audit, it marked a very exciting day in my life. After all, as William Reed said, “The best accountants are not just number crunchers; they’re financial storytellers.

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