As summer creeps to a close, that means one thing for Big 4 tax compliance folks – Busy Season 2.0. In a lot of ways, this time of year can be worse than the late winter/early spring as the drop deadlines approach and your deadbeat clients that never get you what you need on time remind you why they are your deadbeat clients.

It also means the return of mandatory 50+ hour weeks (that’s on the low end). Typically a simple communication from one of the higher-ups in your group should suffice but sometimes a few extra instructions get included. This was the case in an email sent to the troops in KPMG’s Fed Tax Group in the Dallas office yesterday afternoon:


Sent: Wednesday, August 04, 2010 2:42 PM


Subject: 2010 Fall Busy Season Hours

The summer-fall busy season is now upon us. Effective immediately through September 15th, all senior associates and associates in the Fed Tax practice should have a minimum of 50 hours of chargeable work per week. If you don’t have work to fill this time, please contact Elizabeth Emerson immediately with your availability and she will work to assign your time to projects. New this year, if you have any unassigned time, the expectation is that you will send a short email to your manager and copy [redacted] on a daily basis with the number of available hours (out of 10) that you have to work on projects. As you are assigned please remember that it is imperative to keep [your timesheet] updated and accurate.

Thanks in advance for all your hard work and efforts during this busy season.

The “short email” probably won’t apply to many SAs but there are probably more than a few A1s and A2s that will find gaps in their day and a quick typing of “I’m unassigned for X hours” today will probably suffice. Annoying? Yes. Necessary? Perhaps. As everyone knows, if you’re not fully chargeable, it could mean the end of your illustrious Big 4 career (and even if you are, that might not save you) and Fed Tax compliance is known a popular group for layoffs come post-October 15th.

But our source interpreted the email this way:

I guess we will have to start asking for permission to check emails and take bathroom breaks, otherwise we will have to “send a short email on a daily basis” explaining why we were unchargeable for 30 minutes a day…

So tax people – how do you read this email? A friendly reminder with a simple request or just one more thing to lump on your pile? Discuss.