After the grind of tax season, it's only natural for tax professionals to need to blow off some steam. Despite the long hours, the work doesn't always lend itself to socializing, so for many employees a little partying is in order. Over the years some companies have adopted traditions to celebrate Tax Day. Here are a few:
Swing by Murphy & Scarletti's Pasta, Grill & Bar in Farmington, Conn., the evening of April 15, and you'll find up to 500 accountants rocking to the music of the Accounting Crows, the Fab Four of accounting.
The music gets started around 6:30 and goes on until the wee hour of 9:30 p.m.
"Don't forget we're accountants, and, not only that, we just got done with April 15th," said Alan Friedman, the Crows' lead guitar and vocalist who is a partner of Friedman, Kannenberg & Co. P.C. in Farmington.
The band got its start about 15 years ago, playing a career fair for graduating accounting students and the Connecticut Society of CPAs. It toyed with various names, such as Led Pencil and the Audit Brothers, and wound up playing a Tax Day gig for charity at Murphy & Scarletti's.
"It sort of grew from there," said Friedman. "We're all rock and rollers at heart."
Bassist Reed W. Risteen is a partner in Blum Shapiro & Co. P.C. in West Hartford, Conn. Drummer Michael Fortunato is vice president of finance and administration for Orthopaedic Health Services Inc., a health-care management consulting firm in Old Lyme, Conn. Mark Zampino, the band's keyboard player and only non-CPA, is the public affairs director of the Connecticut Society of Certified Public Accountants.
At Murphy & Scarletti's on Tax Day, there's eating and drinking. Some people get up and dance.
The band donates its performance fee, usually about $500, to charity.
What do accountants listen to? Of course there are the standards: "Taking Care of Business," "The Tax Man." The set list of favorites includes Jeff Beck, Earth, Wind & Fire, The Cars, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, The Commodores, and Sly and the Family Stone.
Accountants often confound defy common stereotypes about their personalities and lifestyles, said Friedman.
"They think of us as really stiffs -- 'They don't know how to party.' All the accountants I know, know how to party," he said. "It's all about having a good time."
On April 15, the men at Traphagen & Traphagen CPAs LLC will be able show their faces again, literally. At the close of business, they'll troop into a conference room and together shave the beards they've been growing since the end of January.
"We call it our Sharing Day," said Robert Traphagen, 59, a partner in the 25-employee firm in Oradell, N.J. "Our clients get a big kick out of it. We tell them we're sharing their pain." Some clients have asked to send the clippings to the Internal Revenue Service along with their returns. They don't.
The tradition, now in its 40th year, has won the firm its share of attention. The press releases go out on April 2. "If there's TV coverage, we'll move out to the porch," he said.
The women employees are welcome to join in, said Traphagen. "We haven't had any takers yet." For their part, the women take part in a walkathon or another fundraiser after Tax Day. They haven't yet chosen one for this year.
The evening after Tax Day, the whole firm heads to the Meadowlands Racetrack where it sponsors a race, has dinner and awards certificates of recognition to employees who donated their time to the Internal Revenue Service's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, which provides tax assistance to low- and moderate-income people.
Come midnight April 15, Champagne corks pop across the country at the call centers of tax-software maker Intuit Inc. Like a New Year's countdown, support teams watch a large wall monitor that displays the flow of calls into the center. As midnight approaches, the flood of calls slows to a trickle, and the switch boards shut down as another tax-day deadline finally passes.
"Last call!" takes on a different meaning. "It's now: 'The bar's open!'" said Rich Walker, communications and social-media leader in Intuit's accounting professionals division.
While celebratory, the mood is mostly: "Whew, it's over," said Walker. The party usually lasts about a half hour. "They want to get home to their families."
For the hundreds of call staffers, tax experts and their coaches, it will have been an intense three months. "It is pressure. Let's face it. [Customers] aren't calling a call center to say, 'Hey, everything's great.' They're calling because they need help or advice," said Walker, who will be at the Fredricksburg, Va., office. He'll roll a snack cart loaded with candy bars, popcorn, ice cream and other goodies to bring some cheer and lend support as part of company's senior leadership team. "I admire the calmness that most of our agents exhibit."
In early May, once employees have a chance to wind down and regroup, most call sites have bigger celebrations. The Plano, Texas, office, for example, holds an Office Olympics with basketball, volleyball and carnival games, such as sumo-wrestling matches.
"Dunking booths are always popular because the execs are in it," said Walker. "I've personally managed to avoid that, but I have a feeling that this year I'll be in it."
Write to Laura Lorber