There is an Upside to SOX: It Helps the IRS Find New Team Members

As many of you know, along with my VeraSage duties and opportunities, I still manage a CPA firm. Today I had the pleasure of handling a traditional “in-office” IRS audit. The young auditor was very pleasant and during the audit he explained that he recently joined the IRS, having left KPMG after three years. During my 20 plus years of CPA work, I have rarely (if ever) met an IRS auditor that had ever left the Big 4 (5, 6, 7, or 8 for that matter) to join the IRS. I have met former IRS officials (generally legal counsel, lead, district, or national level people) who have left the IRS to join one of the Big Firms, but never have I met someone who was with the Big Firms leave to work for the IRS.

So, in natural VeraSage style, I looked at him and asked “Why”?. And his answer was “After 3 years of repetitive, boring, and terrible work associated with Sarbanes-Oxley I couldn’t handle it anymore. I have a young family and I was tired of working 60-80 hour weeks for what felt like $5 per hour and never seeing my family.”

So I pushed a little. It was that bad? And he explained just how bad it was. It was going into a company under undue pressure and work until he couldn’t work any longer and then repeat until complete and then move on to the next one. He actaully said “I could make over $100k if I wanted to work for a SOX department of a big company (meaning a registrant of SOX that needs internal control documentation rather than outsourcing to say KPMG). But I wouldn’t dream of taking that job even though it pays a lot of money. There is just no way.”

We continued our conversation. He indicated that he makes more money working 40 hours a week for the IRS, in a freindly office, 10 minutes from home, with no overtime, no hassles, better retirement, and no SOX work. This young IRS auditor spent three years with one of the Big 4 and so hated the work that he opted to work for the IRS rather than continue killing his brain cells.

If our profession doesn’t wake up and stop using knowledge workers (or at least potential knowledge workers) we will continue to destroy the future of our profession until we disappear completely like so many other extinct peoples.

Thanks KPMG for ruining the life of a knowledge worker. May you enjoy the profits from your killing. But remember after you kill this generation of knowledge workers by feasting on the profits of today that there will be no harvests in the future because you failed to tend to the flock.


  1. Dan,

    This is an amazing story, thanks for passing it along. Scary that one mess of a government agency (the SEC) is in a sense feeding another (the IRS).


  2. Dan,

    That’s an incredible story.

    I’m embarrassed that my old firm would send in surgeons to pierce ears.

    We hear all the time from old-school partners that the “young-ins” have to learn from experience, and do the grunt work in order to understand the “big picture.”

    For three solid years?

    What nonsense. The Top 100 continue to eat their young.

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