A Conversation With...Santa's Accountant

At North Pole, Alaska, where Christmas is “celebrated 365 days a year,” getting gifts to children around the globe is a year-round operation.

So to track business affairs, even Santa Claus relies on an accountant. He is Paul Merrifield, a native of northern Indiana who migrated to Alaska in the early 1970s. Merrifield has served as city accountant of North Pole, a tiny town of 1,500 people near Fairbanks, for four years.

The job mainly attracted him for two reasons: The Christmas bonuses are great and Saint Nicholas is such a jolly fellow to work with. Even as Christmas approaches, when it gets as busy as tax time for many accountants, Santa always remains merry.

“It gets to be pretty much around the clock,” Merrifield said of the frantic pace in which the elves scurry to fill toy orders, much like a manufacturing plant would. “Elves can be a thorn in the side when they don’t get their purchase orders in.”

The 5’ 7” Merrifield may be of average height, but he still towers over the wee-size workers. In fact, his job requires him to be tolerant of the elves, because they can be a funny group, Merrifield said.

Their benefits are good, though. The elves get all the cookie dough they can eat, free room and board, and their union dues are even paid.

For Merrifield, he enjoys great job security, he said, because not many accountants like long, cold, dark winters. On one recent December day, the high reached 33 degrees below zero.

The position also might scare away accountants who are afraid of heights, because Santa occasionally will ask Merrifield to take a test ride with him in his sleigh.

You may like these other stories...

By Deanna C. White Indiana CPAs who want to learn about hot topics, financial news, best practices, and other pressing issues affecting the accounting profession have a new tool at their disposal.  On February...
To say that James Doty has had a lot on his plate during his first six weeks as chairman of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) would be an understatement. Jason Bramwell reports. "I would like to...
Realizing the full benefits and rewards of being a Certified Public Accountant comes when the CPA is involved with the profession and its future, said Conrad Davis, newly appointed chairman of the California Society of CPAs....

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Sep 9
In this session we'll discuss the types of technologies and their uses in a small accounting firm office.
Sep 10
Transfer your knowledge and experience to prepare your team for the challenges and opportunities of an accounting career.
Sep 11
This webcast will include discussions of commonly-applicable Clarified Auditing Standards for audits of non-public, non-governmental entities.
Sep 24
In this jam-packed presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA will give you a crash-course in creating spreadsheet-based dashboards. A dashboard condenses large amounts of data into a compact space, yet enables the end user to easily drill down into details when warranted.