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Accounting firms find ways to relax after April 15

Many accountants look forward to 5 p.m. April 15 each year. That’s when tax work is complete, and they are free to take a breather and do things they might have put on hold for a few hectic weeks (and months).

The firm of Alexander, Van Loon, Sloan, Levens and Favre of Gulfport celebrates the official end of tax season with a cookout that begins at 5 p.m. on April 15 in the company parking lot. All employees invite their spouses and children — people they might not have seen a lot of during the last few weeks leading up to the 15th. A caterer comes in to cook. This year’s menu included steak and shrimp, grilled on the spot.

“We’re pretty relaxed after that, and employees put in for time off,” said Jerry Levens, one of the firm’s partners. “We all take a three-day weekend the first week after April 15 and some employees go to a four-day week.”

Mid-April is the perfect time to be outside. “It’s amazing that I even look forward to yard work,” he added. “Everyone just wants to be outside after being cooped up inside because the last six weeks of tax season are very hard.”

When his children were younger, Levens said he was glad to help coach baseball. Now, he goes fishing in addition to doing yard work.

80 miles an hour

“I compare tax time to driving down an interstate at 80 miles per hour, then when it’s over, slowing down to 40,” he said. “It’s like shifting gears.”

The Gulfport firm also puts up a tent and participates in the Cancer Society’s annual fundraising walk that comes about the time tax season is over. “We invite the families to participate and grill for everyone although it’s not mandatory to participate,” Levens said. “It’s a great cause and everyone has a good time.”

In years past GranthamPoole CPAs of Jackson have taken a day off to do something as a group — bowling, movies, picnics — but decided everyone would rather have the time to be with their families.

“We take a tax day off the first day after April 15 or employees can sign up for another day off,” said Dorothy Gray, the firm’s business partner. “It’s about half and half. The office is open and some like to come in to get things in order because it’s a quiet day. Others have had enough and want to get away.”

Time to plant, too

For her, the end of tax season signals the time to plant flowers. She thinks it may be best she’s stuck inside working during the first weeks of April. “I might get anxious and put out my bedding plants too early if I wasn’t working” she said. “This year a co-worker gave me a pair of bright yellow gardening gloves, and I kept them on my desk as a reminder. They kept me going.”

Gray says GranthamPoole does work a lot of overtime before April 15 but tries to manage so the staff doesn’t have to do that. However, this year there were some unforeseen circumstances when an employee was out with appendicitis and another’s wife became ill. “We had things we couldn’t prepare for, and we all pitched in and took up the slack,” she said. “The staff was wonderful.”

Unwinding after tax time is an individual thing at the Jackson firm of Burgess, Crechale and Necaise with each employee deciding what they want to do. Jeffrey Necaise said they brought in food on April 14 and 15 to help everyone in the office.

“After the 15th, we cut back dramatically on our hours and take off and do things,” he said. “We encourage each other to take off and relax. In some cases, we have to put off doing things like doctor visits until after the 15th.”

In Natchez, the Silas Simmons firm of 30 employees has a party beginning at 6:30 p.m. on April 15 and also closes the office the first working day afterwards. This year’s party for employees and spouses was held in a rented room with a balcony overlooking the Mississippi River.

“We have a liberal vacation policy,” said partner John Mosby, “but we don’t take off during tax season. I enjoy working, but I’m always ready to play golf.”

Winding down

Shawn McGregor, marketing director for the Horne, LLP, says it’s not unusual for the firm to have a light day April 15 because normally by that time all returns and extensions have been filed. By the time that day rolls around, many employees have put in a lot of extra time and are ready to get outside.

“We like to get out of the office by the end of the day on April 15 and go to a local place, somewhere that can take our large crowd, and have an informal get-together,” he said.

He said some employees find the weeks following April 15 a good time to start continuing education and do administrative things when the office is less busy. It’s also when performance evaluations are completed.

“We do have a time-off policy, but not regular two-week vacations,” he said. “There’s a lot of flexibility in vacations and many begin soon after April 15.”

Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at mbj@msbusiness.com.

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