Can you imagine watching every Monday night a TV show entitled, “The CPA”? Or “NY CPA”? Why not? There was L.A. Law for lawyers; House for doctors; Hill Street Blues for detectives; and, of course, General Hospital, Dr. Kildare, Ben Casey, the Defenders, Perry Mason, Miami Vice, Streets of San Francisco, Mike Hammer, Magnum P.I., Nero Wolf, Murder 101, etc.,…but I cannot for the life of me ever recall a TV show about CPAs….And don’t say there was never a TV show about CPAs because CPAs deal with numbers! In fact, there was a show called “Numbers” for mathematicians! And I watched it.
OK, so CPAs don’t carry guns or stethescopes, but they do tote calculators and Master Tax Guides. And remember, for all of the shootings of Eliot Ness and the Untouchables, it took an accountant to bring down Al Capone for not paying his taxes! The tax code is mightier than a 45 magnum!
So why hasn’t there ever been a TV show featuring CPAs?! Can you imagine a CPA as detailed as Monk solving a delinquent taxpayer’s dilemma with the IRS? Imagine the suspense of someone facing the prospect of losing everything undergoing an IRS audit: his home; his trophy wife; his jaguar; his Rolex….Can you picture the monkish CPA digging through the check registers, bank statements, receipts, QuickBooks files, looking for that one clue to save his client? That’s an hour’s nail-biter for sure.
We should write a script and send it to Warner Brothers.
Episode1. Joe the Tax Dodger rushes into the CPA’s office in a cold sweat after receiving a notice from the IRS claiming that he owes $1,000,000 in taxes, penalties, and fines. He is facing criminal charges, too, for declaring personal deductions—such as renovations to his beach cottage—as business capital expenditures. He appeals to you, the CPA, to save him from bankruptcy, divorce, a ten year stretch with a cell-mate named Buster, and social humiliation and ostracism. Isn’t this the stuff of fiction? Are only doctors, lawyers, and private investigators worthy of air time? And you, the CPA, save this crook. You prepare an offer in compromise, reduce his assessments to a mere pittance, write a letter on his behalf to the IRS attributing the error of mixing personal with business records to negligence on the part of his wife, his mistress, his bookkeeper who is also his mistress, his best friend, or all of them; then after sending him a huge bill, the camera pans to a deserted beach on a tropical island, where you are seen bathing in success with a very shapely companion.
And aren’t there enough witty repartees in a CPA office on a daily basis to sustain the dialogue in a weekly series? Don’t you have plenty of wise-cracking, insulting office peers, always dumping on your personal habits in your office, too? Did you say drama? Doesn’t your office have enough drama, too? What?! You say that you don’t have any drama queens!? (If so, I want to work in your office.) Don’t your seniors always over-react to your exceeding budgeted time on assignments? Don’t they make a mountain out of a mole hill because you missed a tick mark? Or forgot a footnote? And doesn’t your office have the Dominatrix office manager, bossing everyone around all the time, as if she were the senior partner of the firm? Isn’t that the stuff of drama and suspense, or at least comedy? There’s certainly conflict in a CPA office, too, especially among staff members fighting over which radio station prevails, or quibbling over the results of their fantasy baseball picks. Denouement, though, may be difficult to achieve, since our office squabbles are never resolved. But, then again, you can always write in the script…”to be continued”! And keep the suspense rolling from week to week.
And we must have romance in the CPA office, too. What about the nerdy accountant with the pencil holder in the pocket of his white polyester shirt and the thick glasses furtively stealing peeks at the new intern sporting a mini skirt, in stiletto heels, stuttering everytime she asks him a question, beaming when he knows the answer, pontificating on the intricacies of the FASBs, Regs, GAASs, and Code sections as if he were Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. And then he takes her for a stroll to the files, and just when he is about to ask her to attend the Tuesday night meeting of Junior Accountants, he stutters uncontrollably, exhibiting all the characteristics of turrets syndrome, and never quite manages to ask her out, until one day….See? You want to know, too, how goofy got his gal.
Accountants are detectives, too, in a way. They’re financial detectives! They are always searching for missing files, checks, receipts, documents, numbers, and typically are forced to rely on subtle clues to reconstruct or calculate the missing information. They make endless telephone calls often resulting in dead ends and unbillable time. And they often receive the brush off from testy governmental officials, denying them information on the grounds of privacy. Can’t you imagine the build up of suspense as the CPA pursues her quest in trying to obtain the cost basis from an investment house of an investor’s purchase of stock that occurred twenty years ago and underwent multiple splits and stock dividends? We watch with baited breath as she connives her way around the financial advisor speaking in that husky Julie London voice, pleading helplessness and lady in dire straits, promising so much and yielding nothing, while extracting date, cost per share, intervening stock splits and stock dividends—if she is really good, even a stock tip—and the like….we marvel at the technique honed over twenty years of extracting confidential information with the dexterity of a dentist. What an artist!
Frankly I’m tired of watching half-naked, young, wannabe models running around a deserted island. I want to hear calculators and computer keys clacking away; staff members mumbling, swearing, grunting and hissing; pages turning; and phones ringing. I want to see desks strewn with the corpses of files in every imaginable position—typically under my desk somewhere or blockading passage into my cubicle—and cups of coffee and remnants of snacks hardening and turning green with mold. This is the stuff of realism, the stuff of everyday life, what it’s really all about being a CPA….(oh, God forbid)….your worst nightmare!
OK, OK, so you might pass on it , but c’mon, admit it, it would not be any less exciting than the shows on TV now.
This article is provided for informational purposes and is not intended to be construed as legal, accounting, or other professional advice. For further information, please consult appropriate professional advice from your attorney and certified public accountant.
Have a tax or an accounting question? Please feel free to submit it to William Brighenti, Certified Public Accountant, Hartford CPA Accountants. For information and assistance on any tax and accounting issue, please visit our website: Accountants CPA Hartford.
If and only to the extent that this publication contains contributions from tax professionals who are subject to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, the publisher, on behalf of those contributors, hereby states that any U.S. federal tax advice that is contained in such contributions was not intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose. The above tax advice was written to support the promotion or marketing of the accounting practice of the publisher and any transaction described herein. The taxpayer recipients of this offering memorandum should seek tax advice based on their particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.