The Woes and Joys of a Seasonal Business

January 27, 2019

Tax Season

Many of my clients own and operate seasonal businesses like a hotel in a tourist location, an outdoor event venue for weddings and the like and even farms. And although all of these business ventures are in fact year-round, many have busier times of the year. For example, a radio station, a night club and even one client that sells Christmas decorations.

From my perspective, none of these compare to the ten week tax filing season. Tax reporting documents are required to be postmarked to recipients by January 31st and tax returns are due by April 15th. Investment companies have until February 15th to mail 1099 reporting documents to investors, which causes only an eight week filing window for investors.

Business Partnerships and S-Corporations have until March 15th to send out K-1s to their business owners and these individuals have the same April 15th filing deadline for their personal returns as everyone else. A thirty day window for them!

The Pressure and Stress

Some people handle the pressure and stress of tight critical deadlines while others don't. It really does take a special type person to handle the sacrifice of the busy season in order to reap the rewards of the off season.

People are generally creatures of habit. Seasonal is not normal. Habits must change. Routines change. Priorities change. Everything changes, for ten weeks. I'm unclear on whether OCD would preclude a person or is a prerequisite for success. Obsessive–compulsive disorder is a mental disorder where people feel the need to check things repeatedly, perform certain routines repeatedly, or have certain thoughts repeatedly.

I know I really love what I do. This will be my 33rd tax season! I don't think I'm OCD, but I have mentioned that some days in tax season can be like the movie "Groundhog Day."

Gregory J. Cook, EA, CPA, Accredited Tax Advisor

My Jumbo Jet Analogy

For years I have compared tax season to flying a jumbo jet. "The hardest part is taking off and landing." Preparing for take-off, going through the flight check-off list, is what I have been doing for the last eight weeks, including weekends.

This coming Friday will be "wheels up" day for us. Then that first week of February involves trying to take care of anything that might break (people and equipment). The take-off is always bumpy!

But by mid-February we reach "cruising altitude" and I can almost put the business operation on auto-pilot!

Our "landing approach" begins the last week of March and lasts through the first week of April. Our very busiest time! Landing is always stressful and full of difficulties. But we always make it.

And on April 15th when I stop the engines and all the passengers disembark, it creates such a void and vacuum that it takes a full week to get the adrenalin out of our systems. And I always try to prepare the staff for the emotional letdown that comes with being the most important person to everyone for 70 days in a row and the 71st day your telephone does not ring at all.