It’s April 15th, Do You Know Where Your Accountant Is?

Today is the Super Bowl for accountants – well, maybe not exactly.

While filing your own tax return may come as a relief, for accountants, getting to April 15 is like running a months-long marathon. And many CPAs say this year has been even more stressful than usual, as they’ve had to deal with the fallout of the fiscal cliff and the payroll tax increase.

So, how do accountants spend their final hours before the deadline? spoke with four small accounting firms to find out whether Tax Day is a mad dash – or a party.

No. 1: Bigelow & Co., Manchester, NH

“The biggest challenge this year has been tax forms,” says managing partner Marie McKay, CPA. McKay says on top of federal forms being late due to the fiscal cliff, New Hampshire didn’t release its forms until the end of February, compressing the busy season for Bigelow & Co., which has offices in Manchester and Portsmouth.

“We’ll be working right up until the end – it’s usually very hectic,” adds McKay, though she says that just how hectic depends on which day of the week Tax Day falls. “When it lands on a Monday, it’s different than if it’s on a Friday,” she says, as Friday will serve as a cutoff for the firm for a lot of its work.

That said, the busy season doesn’t stop on the 15th: McKay says Bigelow will still be busy doing commercial audits and extensions.

No. 2: Gaintner Bandler Reed & Peters, PLC, Phoenix, AZ

You might think the last days before April 15 would involve a lot of screaming – or at least some paper-throwing. But GBRP office manager Sue Williams describes the office as very quiet: “It’s because everyone’s focused!”

To reward the CPAs and tax preparers for keeping their noses to the grindstone, Williams brings in a lunch for everyone on April 15.

“I used to make the lunch myself, but now I’m bringing in sandwiches and making the sides,” says Williams, who’s been at the firm for 7 years.

The firm also provides dinner for its employees Tuesday through Thursday – as well as lunch on Saturday, as most work all weekend throughout tax season.

“Some of them have put in over 100 hours a week for months,” says Williams.

No. 3: Hogan Hansen, Algona, IA

“We squeezed 3.5 months of tax season into 2.5 – we couldn’t get started until February!” says tax preparer James Eilders, who works at the Algona location of Iowa firm Hogan Hansen.

Despite the time crunch, Eilders says they were on track to finish late last week.

“We’re actually closing on noon on Monday, so we’ll get here at 7 a.m. to file extensions that still need to be done,” says Eilders.

There will likely be some resting up this afternoon – the firm plans to party tonight, to celebrate their hard work.

“Some CPAs take a vacation right after,” says Eilders, “but I’ll still be here.”

No. 4: Blue & Co., LLC, Louisville, KY

Blue & Co. director Joe Ackerman says this tax season was rushed because many clients received brokerage forms and K-1 tax forms (for owners of partnerships, LLCs or S-corps) later in the year.

“We’re at the mercy of the client and when they receive their information,” says Ackerman.

Today, he says the firm will be doing some cleanup, but will likely leave the office around 5 p.m. – not bad!

“We’ll celebrate Tuesday with a fairly large party,” he says, but the firm will be busy with extensions and audits for a few more months still.