Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Eighth Day of Work

My supervisor handed me a large tome titled Internal Revenue Code, saying, "Here--take this home with you and read it at night before you go to sleep." 'Large' is an understatement for a book that took both arms to carry. The time has come to breath--nay, be the Internal Revenue Code. From here on out, the last thing I'll do before going to sleep each night, and the first thing I'll do upon waking each morning, will be to read the tax code of the United States.

* * *

I spent 10 hours today leafing through page after page of personal documents and inputting their meaning into paper tax forms and tax software. After some thought, I've come to realize that in a given day at this job, I touch probably 2,000 sheets of paper. My hands actually dry out by the end of the day. I was a DJ in high school and I used to joke that I needed to wear gloves to work because the 'scratching' was burning my fingers. Now that I'm in an office environment, that necessity might actually materialize as the semester progresses. The irony.

The highlight of my day was when the managing partner of the firm came directly to me with his personal friend's trust return and asked me to complete it. The pressure was on! In the world of trust returns this was a fairly simple one, but accounting for investments is not easy for a beginner. Trying to calculate Foreign Gross Income was insanity. For someone who'd never calculated an FGI before, though, I figured it out all by myself without asking a soul. I was finished with the return in 75 minutes, had it printed, and delivered for final review, ready to be IRS e-filed.

I got a great sense of satisfaction from this task that I haven't felt in some time. When I work on individual returns, I can always wheel [while sitting in the office chair] over to my supervisor's desk and ask him anything. But, my supervisor had already left for the day when I was assigned the trust return. In a sense, trust was placed in me for this task. At the same time though, what better a way to test an intern's tax competency than to give him a return all his own to complete. This was a trust-building exercise, naturally a pun in and of itself. I had to trust my own instinct and the partner had to trust my limited knowledge base, which had hopefully expanded sufficiently by the time the return was assigned.

I didn't receive any negative feedback on my performance, which as I've come to discover in the tax world, means you did good. In sum, it feels good putting my brain to use to actually earn the money they pay me. I'm happy to be learning a lot.

P.S. I love accounting, don't get me wrong, but just because that first paragraph is written here does not mean that I'm necessarily making a serious commitment to living in the tax zip code.

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