Author Topic: Any CPAs on here? Question from another CPA about my semi-retirement.  (Read 4106 times)

Trudie

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I'm a CPA with ten years of experience in financial accounting, internal audit, and cost accounting -- mostly with private companies.  I've kept my CPA certificate because it is a calling card, leads to networking opportunities, and has helped me get my foot in the door for jobs.

I am within 5 years of ER and am considering what kind of semi-retirement work I might find enjoyable.  I'm not convinced that I will work at all, but I want to have the option and I like the security that comes from knowing I have viable options if I want to pick up extra income.  Sometimes I think about doing something else entirely (working at a library), but I wouldn't mind getting on with an attorney or a firm doing seasonal tax work. 

I spend so much of my time on financial accounting and internal audit and close to zero on tax, even though I enjoy the planning aspects of tax and find it a bit more interesting.  I rather enjoy doing my own taxes and informally advising on tax matters. I'm pondering what would be useful steps in the next five years to update my knowledge base in tax and provide some credibility for doing tax.

Here are my specific questions:
(1)  Should I just pad my required CPE with intensive tax courses?  If so, any recommendations?  Are the IRS tax institutes worthwhile?
(2)  Would the EA exam be worth it?  I realize I don't NEED it to practice before the IRS but would it just be a structured way of gaining comprehensive knowledge quickly?
(3)  Any additional educational recommendations?
(4)  Any tips on getting my foot in the door to do this sort of work?

I have no illusions that I will be highly compensated and am willing to be a tax grunt.  Part of it is that I generally learn alot, even when I sort through the most mundane of details.

I am also going to consider temp accounting assignments, but truthfully after spending so many years making monthly deadlines and dealing with financial statements, payroll and benefits issues, and audits I'm eager for a change of pace.

Sibley

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Re: Any CPAs on here? Question from another CPA about my semi-retirement.
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2015, 07:52:32 PM »
I'm a CPA as well, though you've got more experience than me. I did some tax work in the beginning of my career, but never got past grunt level before switching to audit. Now in internal audit.

Honestly, I think the best way to get back in would be to go seasonal with a firm that does tax work. Doing CPE might help, but most tax CPE I've done has been higher level and theoretical. The real value is in practice. I wouldn't bother with an EA - the CPA is more valuable overall.

If you have time, look into VITA or related free tax prep services. It's volunteer work, but you need practice. Also consider H&R Block and similar, though some have some unsavory reputations.

In addition, there's another CPA on the forum who I think may have done similar to what your considering. CPACat I think her user name is, hopefully she'll see your post and chime in.

catccc

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Re: Any CPAs on here? Question from another CPA about my semi-retirement.
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2015, 10:50:24 AM »
I'm not cpacat, but I'm catccc and I am also a CPA.

You are me, I think, because I also want to work at the library part time when I "retire."  I'm maybe also 5 years out from retirement.  I have about 12 years of experience in accounting, the first 2 in public at a regional firm doing both tax and audit.  I have not done taxes in a long time.

You could probably find a number of local firms that would want to hire you for seasonal work.  They'll just offload the easy returns on their temporary staff, you probably won't need much in terms of recent tax experience.  I also wouldn't bother with the EA.  I feel like that's what people get when they can't handle or don't want to deal with getting a full blown CPA license.  Just focus all of your CPE classes on a variety of tax issues and updates.

Accounting is great in that you can do contract work here and there if you need to do it, but it might be a 3-6 month temporary thing, and then you are free again.  I can see finding that enjoyable.  I also like that learning period with a new role where they don't expect much of you and you can easily blow them away by making small improvements as an outsider.  Temporary/contract work sounds like a lot of that.

TaxChick

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Re: Any CPAs on here? Question from another CPA about my semi-retirement.
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2015, 08:53:17 PM »
I am a CPA also. I have spent 23 years in tax.  H&R Block used to offer a tax course that was pretty comprehensive.  At the end of it they would offer jobs to those who scored high.  I am not sure that I would recommend working in an H&R Block office, but I think the training was highly regarded. It would at least help you with the basics of mainly individual taxation.  There is also a chance you could pick up some part-time or contract tax work with a large corporation. When they finish a Federal RAR (Revenue Agents Review), they have to amend a number of state tax returns. Many times they will bring in temps to help with this.

Which part of the country do you live in?

Trudie

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Re: Any CPAs on here? Question from another CPA about my semi-retirement.
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2015, 01:09:20 PM »
@Tax Chick - I live in Iowa.  I wouldn't want to work for H&R Block, but have heard good things about their tax course.  Is the training free?

I did some reading yesterday about the VITA/IRS training also:
http://apps.irs.gov/app/vita/

I was thinking this could be a good/free approach during a transition year when I'm still working my other job but wanting to get some flexible training.  Your thoughts?

COlady

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Re: Any CPAs on here? Question from another CPA about my semi-retirement.
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2015, 01:25:50 PM »
I'm a CPA with 10 years of experience. I worked in audit for the first 4 years with the remainder in tax. I would definitely recommend doing contract tax work, that's what I'm doing now since having twins 7 months ago. I work 20 hours per week for a private corporation in the same capacity as my previous full time position, just less hours.  As far as how to get experience....I think you could work for a lower contract rate for a CPA firm preparing individual returns. I worked for two public accounting firms and they both utilized contractors during tax season.

TaxChick

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Re: Any CPAs on here? Question from another CPA about my semi-retirement.
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2015, 06:31:50 PM »
http://www.hrblock.com/corporate/income-tax-course/index.html

Here is the website. They don't say how much the course costs, you would have to contact them.  It is about 60 hours of training.  I think the cost is under $500, but you would need to confirm.  Usually the classes are in the evening or on Saturday, which makes it easier for those with a job to participate.  There goal is to find people to hire, so they keep the costs fairly low.  I think it may even count for CPE credit which is a bonus.

Papa bear

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Re: Any CPAs on here? Question from another CPA about my semi-retirement.
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2015, 06:52:55 PM »
I'm a recovering tax accountant that ended up in staffing. You will easily be able to pick up contract work, part time, full time, short and long term, basically anything you want. 

If you want to go tax, find a local firm and work with them during busy season.  You won't get picked up by any staffing agencies for tax work without a year under your belt. 




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john c

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Re: Any CPAs on here? Question from another CPA about my semi-retirement.
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2015, 10:49:17 PM »
Without much background in tax, have you considered working part time for the IRS doing corporate audits?  They have a program that takes mid-career finance folks to audit the types of corporations they previously worked in.  The hourly pay is pretty good, and as long as there's an IRS office near you, there will likely be positions.

TheDudeReturns

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Re: Any CPAs on here? Question from another CPA about my semi-retirement.
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2015, 11:59:03 PM »
Without much background in tax, have you considered working part time for the IRS doing corporate audits?  They have a program that takes mid-career finance folks to audit the types of corporations they previously worked in.  The hourly pay is pretty good, and as long as there's an IRS office near you, there will likely be positions.

LOL! Is the IRS that pathetic that they have people without a background in tax doing corporate audits? They are that friggin' cheap that they want people with no experience to audit (in other words, shake down for more money) others? Again, LOL!

Trudie

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Re: Any CPAs on here? Question from another CPA about my semi-retirement.
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2015, 10:04:37 AM »
To answer the question - I'm not interested in working for the IRS.  I was not aware that they were hiring mid-career people without tax backgrounds, but it seems to fit my impression.  A year ago my company was the lucky recipient of a random audit.  The auditors spent a couple of hours here, we spent a few thousand bucks preparing (with the help of our external tax firm) and it was an utter waste.  They didn't recover a penny from us.  What was eye-opening is that we had to explain certain rules to them and not the other way around.  For instance, one of the items they flagged was employer provided employee cell phones.  They wanted records splitting business and personal use, when a few years previously they had issued a rule that such phones were a de minimus benefit and that such record keeping would no longer be required.  (Plus, they are a necessity in our particular business -- telecommunications -- in which we actually own a significant part of the network we're calling on.)  We played nice and didn't try to ruffle their feathers, but it was a costly and frustrating waste of time and I kind of got the vibe that they felt so too.  They got their marching orders from a regional office.

frugaldrummer

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Re: Any CPAs on here? Question from another CPA about my semi-retirement.
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2015, 06:46:39 PM »
Quote
Sometimes I think about doing something else entirely (working at a library), but I wouldn't mind getting on with an attorney or a firm doing seasonal tax work. 

Lol - sounds like my mom.  She was a CPA at a small tax accounting firm.  When she retired at 65, for the first several years she would go back and work part-time for her old firm during tax season (so maybe 20 hours/week for 3-4 mos/year).  In her spare time she volunteered at the local library.
Eventually one of her library bosses insisted that she apply for a job opening.  I think she was 70 or 71 when they hired her.  About that same time the part-time accounting work dried up (the firm was less busy and more work was automated.

Mom is now 83, still works 3 days a week for the library, and loves what she does.  :) 

john c

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Re: Any CPAs on here? Question from another CPA about my semi-retirement.
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2015, 05:50:38 AM »

LOL! Is the IRS that pathetic that they have people without a background in tax doing corporate audits? They are that friggin' cheap that they want people with no experience to audit (in other words, shake down for more money) others? Again, LOL!

I think you have it backwards....the IRS is hiring ex-corporate finance types.  Typically this means no knowledge of tax, but a lot of specialized knowledge of corporate finance.  So the ex-corporate finance types know all about finance systems, the correct booking of entries, separation of duties....basically everything that has to do with what feeds into the tax return.  It's actually quite crafty, like hiring a hacker to hack into your system to find the weaknesses.