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No CPA left behind: The tax season survival guide

April can be perilous for tax accountants. Here are six important tactics to make it through safely.

It’s not a zombie apocalypse. You’re not stranded on a deserted island. But any accountant will tell you that tax season can feel equally perilous.

To ensure the safety of weary CPAs, here’s a tax season survival guide, comprised of six important tactics to help you endure the long hours of April.

Illustration of accountant in cage with tiger wearing spectacles growling outside itIllustrations by Graham Romieu


The most important survival tip is finding a safe and secure base of operations, shielding you from unyielding elements. While CPAs are unlikely to be exposed to severe weather or be stalked by dangerous beasts, you need to feel comfortable in your work space, whether you’re working for a large or small firm, or a lone tax practitioner. Get the perfect office chair, an ergonomic keyboard, good lighting, some fresh orchids, or even an aquarium if it helps. [See 6 helpful tech gadgets that busy accountants will love]

Illustration of accountant eating desk plant


Finding reliable (and clean) food and water is another pillar of most survival guides. During long hours in the office, you need more than just your CPA water bottle. Make sure you know what’s accessible—be it the basement vending machine or the Tim Hortons drive-through. But we are what we eat, so don’t diminish your productivity with too many snacks.

Illustration of birds flying around accountant, helping with paperwork


If you’re not careful you could end up buried under a bundle of T2202As, or most frighteningly, a large heap of T4s. Staying organized will ensure that you spend your time on the important work instead of wildly shuffling through a clutter of paper. There are a few tried and tested ways to organize receipts and invoices, including simply putting two copies in the filing cabinet or even going digital. But if you consider yourself a regular zoolinguist, the Snow White method might save some time.

Illustration of accountant wearing protective eyeware and gloves reaching into bubbling cauldron with numbers floating


Fortunately, you won’t be needing hard hats and flame-resistant clothing during tax time. But even though CPAs can go a little lighter on the protection, there are still some hazards in the office. Make sure you’re protected from papercuts, leaky toner cartridges, falling stacks of paper, poor lighting, stray pushpins and particularly sticky Post-it notes.

Illustration of two accountants in room with spikes on walls


Outdoor adventures are more fun with a friend—and much safer. But just like those scaling mountains or rafting choppy waters, tax accountants need to utilize the buddy system to make it through. We all need a little help from our friends during a 12-hour work day—be it words of encouragement, or somebody to tell us to take a break. No CPA gets left behind during tax season.   

Illustration of accountant sitting on boxes, wearing a box on head with a smiley face drawn


Sure, you’re not technically stranded—but tax season can feel a little isolating after a few long days of paperwork. You could try to develop a great friendship with a volleyball, but there are better ways to keep your sanity. Be sure to take occasional breaks even when you’re too busy for them; find time for fitness; don’t sacrifice too much sleep; and most of all, make time for things you enjoy.