While some cities and states have begun to partially reopen certain establishments, the reality of COVID-19 and its impact on our daily lives is still palpable across the nation. Feeling prepared to help your business clients during these unpredictable times is invaluable — and your ability to offer an expert’s perspective is one of the reasons they turn to your practice in the first place.
Though every tax professional’s client base is different, there are a few key components that are ubiquitous across the board when it comes to assisting those who are struggling to maintain a business of their own. Here’s what you can do to help now:
1. Keep them informed of new tax credits.
The IRS has confirmed a number of tax credits created specifically for employers to aid in keeping their businesses afloat. Even if your clients manage to stay abreast of the latest news, the abundance of misinformation in the media can be dizzying.
One of the most helpful is the Employee Retention Credit. The primary purpose of the ERC is to help employers keep more of their employees on payroll. It consists of a refundable credit of 50 percent (up to $10,000) of qualifying employee wages that can be claimed by businesses who have seen financial losses due to COVID-19. While tax-exempt organizations are eligible, state and local governments are not. Employers who take Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) small-business loans are also ineligible. According to the IRS, in order to claim this credit, one of the two following qualifications must be met:
- The employer’s business is fully or partially suspended by government order due to COVID-19 during the calendar quarter.
- The employer’s gross receipts are below 50 percent of the comparable quarter in 2019. When/if the employer’s gross receipts exceed 80% of a comparable quarter in 2019, they no longer qualify for the credit after the end of that quarter.
2. Help them find ways to stay relevant.
While some establishments are able to continue business as (mostly) usual — think online retailers and restaurants that deliver — your clients may not be able to do so. Encourage them to reach out to customers directly and via regular posts to social media. When the world returns to normalcy, they’ll want to be at the forefront of their customers’ minds. Small, simple steps in the right direction now can ensure that their businesses bounce back later.
3. Start planning for the future today.
If your business clients haven’t yet filed, chances are that they’re struggling with the process in one way or another. Offering your support now — and letting them know that you’re here to provide expert guidance through thick and thin — is key. When the day-to-day grind is made even more difficult due to COVID-19, it can be a challenge to consider what comes after. With your help, the business owners you serve can begin to build a stronger vision for the future now. That confidence can prove priceless in the coming weeks, months, and years.
The immediate future may be uncertain, but we know that your drive to serve your clients is unwavering. That’s why TaxAct® Professional continues to provide you with the tools and support you need to keep your business — and your clients’ businesses — running strong, no matter what tomorrow may bring.