Mr. Chris's Blog:
down to earth
Death and Taxes – I Don’t Do Either
March 28, 2016
My Dad is a pastor. Growing up, Dad would always ask me to assist with funerals that he was asked to either preach or sing for. I would play piano and it would often require that I also sing. That continued as Dad became a chaplain at our hometown funeral home in later years. I love singing and playing music and will do pretty much any venue, but I don’t like doing funerals. I have done many in my time, but I have never felt comfortable with it. On the other hand, my Dad has a true gift for it. He is great at comforting families who are grieving and is awesome at handling a funeral service. It is natural for him. I have no problem attending, but when it comes to a role in front of people at a funeral, I don’t do very well. I did not inherit that particular gene.
The one gene I did acquire that Dad doesn’t have is the one related to accounting. I am a Certified Public Accountant, or for short, a CPA. “What?” you may be asking right now; “the music man who writes catchy songs for kids and plays with those funny puppets is a CPA?” Yep! Music is my right brain and accounting is without a doubt my left brain. I’m complicated I know, but I am a CPA and it is right around this time of year that people ask me THE QUESTION - “HOW IS TAX SEASON GOING?” This question comes from my family and friends; people who know me, and many who have known me well for a long time. The truth is I don’t do taxes. I have never done taxes. I do my own personal taxes and that is it. I even pay a CPA to do the tax return for my music business. I am not a tax guy; never have been, never will be.
To provide some context, I obtained my accounting degree from James Madison University and graduated with a 3.85 grade point average. I did my CPA exam preparation at the University of Richmond. Both universities have top-notch accounting programs. I passed the CPA exam on my first attempt in 1996. I then served my 2 years of practice at one of the top accounting firms in the world and have been licensed by the VA State Board of Accountancy ever since. I don’t tell you all of that to brag, but instead to make the point that I am a legitimate CPA and have been for a long time. I have made the requisite investments and paid my dues as such, and accordingly, I can legally stick my name on a sign and provide services to the public, but I don’t. Roy Clark is one of my favorite classic country music entertainers (yes, the guy from Hee-Haw). One of Roy’s best known songs is a tune called “I Never Picked Cotton.” Well, just like old Roy, one day I will have a song called “I Never Did Taxes.” For whatever reason though, people who know me well have never been able to reconcile the fact that I am a CPA and I don’t do taxes.
This phenomenon goes far beyond the CPA world. People think all attorneys speak to juries, all IT people work on computers, and all marketing people develop ads. They think all engineers design machines, all security professionals guard gates, and all contractors build homes. They think all government employees create forms and all doctors have bad handwriting.
I was recently at a social event and met a girl around my age who works as a crime scene investigator. She was hanging with her father. As I was asking questions about her work, I noticed that her father was obviously gaining an understanding about her work as well, seemingly for the first time. For years, he likely assumed she issued parking tickets every day. People can understand and articulate what a pastor, teacher, dentist, realtor, exterminator, lawn professional, retail salesperson or plumber does, but the same isn’t true for the CPA. Whenever I try to explain what I do, I find that people are quickly bored and ready to talk about the weather, movies, or politics; anything but accounting.
I have heard every joke or stereotype in the book about being an accountant. For example:
My wife is also a CPA, so we get to share in the humor together. Family and friends love to ask if we discuss the IRS code at the dinner table and which of the “Triple A’s” our kids will be when they grow up - an accountant, an auditor or an actuary. For those needing reference beyond the accountant, an auditor is someone who arrives after the battle and pours salt on the wounded, and an actuary is someone who spends their days estimating when a person will die. After we had our first child, family and friends joked about how we were able to even have a baby. According to them, all accountants have the most effective form of birth control - their personality. Ha, ha, ha.
I have become accustomed to this abuse and have learned to accept that my family and friends will never understand what I do for a living. However, this year when people asked THE QUESTION - “HOW IS TAX SEASON GOING?” I simply respond, “I don’t do taxes.” I then further explain, “There are 3 types of accountants. Those who can count and those who can’t.” I then walk away.
I just realized that I still haven’t told you what I really do as a CPA, so let me provide a full, comprehensive explanation. What’s that? Oh yes, I agree the weather is nuts right now. No, I haven’t seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 but I really want to. Clinton for President? Yes, I think it would be cool to have a little P-Funk in the White House and yes, George does have political experience, well in the UK that is. He has evidently been leading Parliament since 1970 according to Wikipedia.
Until next week,
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