The requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, coupled with the demand for accountants in other areas, has increased the difficulty in finding qualified staff for the annual rush of returns during the 2004 filing season.

"Don't think it's too early to start hiring additional staff, because the resources are very limited this year," warned Frank Ferreri, market vice president of finance, accounting and technology at Tampa, Fla.-based Kforce, a financial staffing and human resources concern. "My peers around the country say the same thing. In the last two or three years employers could dictate what they needed or were willing to pay, but now it's starting to shift in the other direction. It's becoming a candidate-driven market."

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