1999 was the year of the “Y2K” bug and the cusp of a new millennium.  The Gamecocks did not win a single football game that year in Lou Holtz’s first season as head coach. The Friends were flying on high TV and the Star Wars franchise returned to the big screen with Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace.  The Internet was beginning to grow up and become useful but only on personal computers since our mobile phones were (gasp!) simply telephones.

I began my public accounting career with Scott and Company (then called Scott, Holloway & McElveen) in January 1999 as a staff accountant.  That first busy season was a challenging time that afforded tremendous growth professionally and personally.  Besides learning the ins and outs of preparing tax returns I studied for and took the CPA exam (twice), bought my first house and got married all in that one year. 

Just as my personal life is vastly different almost 15 years and three kids later, the processes and procedures that busy season were very different than today.  We prepared all of our returns on computers, but e-filing was a novelty.  That year our firm e-filed only a handful of returns—most of those for clients deemed to be on the cutting edge of technology and, thus, open to trying a new, untested method of filing.  Document scanning wouldn’t go mainstream for a few more years so we copied workpapers and made paper files.  Our clients all sent us their tax information in paper form and rarely relied on email to get documents to us.  The fax machine was the catchall method to get those last minute statements from the bank or brokerage firm.  Most of my work was done with pencil and paper as I calculated, ticked and tied before entering data into the computer only as the last step to complete the process.

Even our lives outside of work were different.  When I left the office for the day, I could only be reached by telephone.  Email stayed at the office rather than traveling home on a handheld device.  Remote network access was probably available to those who could afford it, but my computer stayed at the office and needed me to be there to use it.

The daily life of a tax accountant has changed tremendously since my first busy season in 1999.

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