Author Topic: Seasonal CPA work - help me figure out a proposal  (Read 480 times)

AerynLee

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Seasonal CPA work - help me figure out a proposal
« on: April 17, 2021, 11:07:24 AM »
I'm a burnt out CPA working for a public accounting firm. I'm starting the conversation at work on transitioning to working seasonally.

The main issue I'm having problems wrapping my head around is fair compensation. During tax season I want to work 50-60 hours/week. Most clients that I am/will be lead on are tax season only, but I would like to be available during the offseason if they have something unusual come up that they need to plan for. After this summer (where I'm taking a few months off regardless of how this conversation goes) I might be up for 40-50 hours in tax season, then 20ish hours in the off season.

What are the options for paying me that are fair to me and the firm? I can get on my husband's insurance so I'm not worried about benefits.

Without doing much research into labor laws (I've looked online but I'm not seeing much that combines seasonal work with >40 hour weeks) here's what I've come up with:
1) Straight hourly - I get paid for exactly the work I do. I'm guessing I can't be hourly without them being required to pay me overtime, which they probably wouldn't want to do
2) Straight salary, but at a much lower annual rate than my current, where I would essentially get paid half-rate during peak season, but still get paid in the off season. We would agree on a total number of planned hours for the year and base the salary off that. This similar to what we do now, but it would much much less even in pay-to-hours-worked ratio throughout the year. My base pay would be high enough for me to stay exempt.
3) Seasonal salary, off season hourly - this seems like it's probably not legal


Any thoughts? Any legal issues I'm missing? Anyone do something similar that can share their experience?

A little background in case it's relevant:
I've been with the firm for 2.5 years. It was a small firm with about 10 employees. A few months ago we merged with a larger firm with about 100 employees. I've talked with my boss who was the owner of the old firm, but because of the merger it's no longer her decision. She wasn't sure how the logistics of it would all be able to work. The new firm does have some seasonal employees and some that I'm pretty sure work part-time most of the year but over 40/week during their peak times, so I'm sure they know what is and isn't allowed legally and have some company precedence if not policies for odd schedules. I just want to have my ducks as much in a row as I can before bringing it up with the managing partner and HR in my post-merger check in later this week.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2021, 11:15:55 AM by AerynLee »

seattlecyclone

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Re: Seasonal CPA work - help me figure out a proposal
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2021, 11:15:07 AM »
Any chance you could work on a contract basis? There could be more flexibility there. Write a certain number of billable hours into the contract and no worries about overtime because you're self-employed.

AerynLee

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Re: Seasonal CPA work - help me figure out a proposal
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2021, 11:17:22 AM »
Any chance you could work on a contract basis? There could be more flexibility there. Write a certain number of billable hours into the contract and no worries about overtime because you're self-employed.
I don't know if that's an option, but that's a good thought, thanks!

Sibley

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Re: Seasonal CPA work - help me figure out a proposal
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2021, 06:03:41 PM »
The people I know who did this were a mix of 1099 contractor and hourly. Just depended what worked better for both parties.

Good luck!

use2betrix

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Re: Seasonal CPA work - help me figure out a proposal
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2021, 06:53:39 PM »
Does there need to be much complicated about that?

Seems like they could simply pay your an hourly rate for your time spent working, with no benefits.

Also - since your rate is directly billable to clients, if you wanted to work an extra hours at 1.5x your rate for overtime, your employer should be able to simply factor that into your overall billable rate to their clients.

Iíve been contract for around the last decade or so (oil & gas) and I have found a LOT of flexibility for negotiating contracts. Iíve worked salary, day rate, straight time (including straight time after 40) and hourly with OT after 40.

I recently started a new position this year and the negotiating process was insanely laborious. We went through a huge gauntlet, looking at all the standard options above..

I had a great job I was currently working and they were desperate so I had a ton of negotiating power. Also - this was a job full of hundreds of contractors, and my agency was ďnewĒ and I was their first person on site, so they had major incentive to make it work.

Others on site were only getting time and a half after 45 hrs, however I negotiated time and a half after 40 (although my agency can only bill for it after 45). I also managed to get $15/hr more than their peak salary range. My contracting agency reduced their markup to get me on board and get their foot in the door (Iíve since brought on two more people through their agency, they raise my hourly rate with each one as a referral bonus). I typically work 50-55 hrs/wk year round, so itís worthwhile.

Anyways - just pointing out that there are tons of different options.. I think that hourly w/ time and a half would be your best bet if needed.

I think that a reduced salary year round would be a stretch and hard to justify for accounting purposes..

Million different ways to skin a cat and come up with the number you want, just donít lose sight of that.. You can tackle things a million different ways but ultimately want to ensure your required take home pay is where you want it, regardless of the pay structure.

john c

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Re: Seasonal CPA work - help me figure out a proposal
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2021, 02:16:12 AM »
Contract CPAs in my area make $50-$75 per hour, depending on experience.  Also, as a state licensed professional, sometimes you can be exempt from employee vs contractor classification.  So there's really no barrier to going to 1099-NEC work at your firm.

AerynLee

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Re: Seasonal CPA work - help me figure out a proposal
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2021, 10:00:22 AM »
I had the conversation today and it went really well. They were very receptive. We're actually going with option 2. As long as I average 30 hours a week I'm still considered full time with full benefits and no overtime issues. I need to ask how holidays and PTO work into that, but ignoring them I only need to average 15-20 hours a week outside of tax season and can stack them basically how I want (within reason). So my annual planned hours go from 2350 to 1560 which will hopefully keep me from burning out.

So I won't technically get a few months off like I wanted I should be able to structure it with only about  10-15 hours a week of work which is a great compromise considering I get full benefits

I'm to put together my proposal and hopefully my Memorial Day I'll be be on a new schedule