Accountants are mostly very nice people. It's not their fault they sometimes appear a little stoic or dry. Think about it: if you spent seven years or more studying this profession, you'd probably become a little dry and staid yourself. It's a lot for the brain to digest, and accountants have a huge responsibility to their clients. Their life consists of number-crunching and shoe-box-sorting, one hand attached permanently to the adding machine, the other on the keyboard or telephone. Accountants have to be serious. Would you appreciate your accountant cracking a joke when you are being told you are going bankrupt?
As every January approaches, accountants prepare themselves for the four-month onslaught of paperwork which must be assembled, processed to perfection, and depleted by the April 30th tax deadline. Do you, the taxpayer, ever stop to think about how much trauma these poor people go through? As the deadline approaches, the latecomers line up in droves, clutching their piles of miscellaneous mountains of triplicate T3s, T4s, T5s, and all that other official paraphernalia.
When all is said and done, accountants are only human, although they are expected to create god-like miracles with tax returns, wondrously changing taxes due into healthy refunds. If there are taxes to pay, of course it is the accountant's fault, don't you agree? There also seems to be a serious misconception here that accountants can survive on no sleep for four months, work eight days a week, 30 hours a day, and not make mistakes – all for a small and reasonable fee.
You may notice that as the tax deadline approaches, you could well be greeted by smiles forced through gritted teeth, accompanied by monosyllabic type conversations and outsized sighs of despair. If you have acute hearing, you will probably hear some under-the-breath, rambling mutterings as you leave the office. Other signs of ATTSS (Accountant's Tax-Time Stress Syndrome), are the slamming of telephones in client's ears after 10 p.m. phone calls from late filers. This is not to be confused with office doors slamming after late clients leave, or messages on the accountant's answering machine, informing clients that they are in Tahiti when they call at 11 p.m. on a Sunday evening.
Trembling hands, black, baggy eyes, nicotine-stained fingers, coffee dribbles on clothing, and nervous twitches are all identifying signs of accountants who suffer from this annual affliction. Most of these symptoms are a direct result of clients leaving their year-end until the last minute, then presenting the whole shooting match in the proverbial grocery bag – unsorted of course – and demanding a refund.
Accountants survive on a different diet than do Ordinary People. A Real Accountant needs five to six pots of coffee a day, half a bottle of Stress pills and assorted vitamins, two cartons of cigarettes, a two-for-one pizza order, and at least half a bottle of premium scotch followed by Valium chasers. If these important daily dietary requirements are not met, your accountant will not survive this crucial time of year. There is no available time allocated in the daily agenda for sleep as this process is extremely time consuming and the stand-down pay is lousy.
You can easily identify an accountant on May 1st. Take a trip to the airport and study the departure areas for destinations such as Alaska, Iceland, Tahiti, Barbados, the Caribbean, Tibet, or Australia. You will notice a long line-up of hunched and ragged robotic-type excuses for humans stumbling to the check-out counter. Fifty-five percent of all passengers are accountants. Then check the bookings for the most desolate and isolated fishing or health resorts in the interior. Fifteen percent of the accountants will be heading for a hideaway in the bush.
Twenty percent of the accountants fly to Reno or Las Vegas, preparing to gamble away your accounting fees with great delight and fiendish glints in their eyes.
Sadly though, if you check the admissions to private and mental health institutions, five percent of the accountants will be newly registered. Last but not least, the obituary column will reveal the whereabouts of the final five percent of this loyal, devoted, and sometimes dying breed.
But you – yes you – can help change these sad statistics. Visit your friendly accountant in early January with all your paperwork in neat, organized, and legible order. Stop our Canadian dollar being so heavily invested into other countries on accountants' recuperative vacations. Reduce mental health costs, and stop the unnecessary trauma of accountants' funerals and family grief. Make your New Year's resolution now – always be nice to your accountant, get your taxes in early, and don't gripe about your accounting bill.
Reprinted from Business for Beginners: A Simple Step-by-step Guide to Start Your New Business, with permission from the author. Copyright © Frances McGuckin 2003.
Small business expert and small business author Frances McGuckin is internationally recognized as the "SmallBizPro." An award-winning motivational small business speaker, consultant, columnist, and best-selling small business author, Frances' books are published globally. Visit SmallBizPro.com Services "Helping people and businesses realize and achieve their maximum potential."