May 17th Doesn’t Matter

Some people really don’t like having their pre-conceived notions challenged.

For example, consider this response to the email I sent yesterday:
—-
Boy are you wrong!!! Congress passed the Legislation after tax season already started – beyond our control.
IRS needed to interpret the changes made in the final Legislation – beyond our control.
Tax software needed to be updated for those changes – beyond our control.
State Legislators needed to decide if they were going to follow federal changes – beyond our control.
—-

…plus six more lines, including one extolling my “insensitivity and arrogance”.

All because I had the audacity to declare that yesterday was the end of filing season.

In total, I received over 30 replies to yesterdays email. That’s a lot of replies for what was probably the shortest email I’ve ever sent.

Just so everyone knows, I am completely aware that IRS extended the filing and payment deadline to May 17th — I’m not an idiot living under a rock (although that’s heavily debated).

But as I’ve written a few times in these emails over the past month plus, just because the IRS extended the deadline, doesn’t mean you have to.

My advice to all tax pros has been to “act as if” April 15th was still the deadline, and do as you would in any other year. That means wrapping up existing returns in progress between April 1 and 15. As of April 1, cutting off any clients that have not brought you docs yet — everybody not in-progress goes on extension to October. The same best practices that you would use in any other year.

Why?

The most important reason is so that this doesn’t throw off your business operations for the rest of the year. In other words, don’t let external forces dictate your business decisions. Tax professionals that simply embrace the May 17th extended deadline will, inevitably, continue to operate in “filing season mode”. That means delaying 1040 tax resolution season marketing. That means skipping late April and early May business development opportunities, such as new ad campaigns, the early return of some trade shows, potential speaking opportunities, and the like.

By failing to enforce a standard April 15th deadline upon your clients, you are stepping over dollars to pick up dimes. If you also offer accounting services, and you stay 100% in “tax season mode”, think of all the potential accounting clients that … Continue reading

What your Four Core Marketing Strategies accomplish for you

While writing the April issue of our print subscription newsletter, The Profitable Accountant™, I framed the discussion about one specific marketing tactic by using a framework I created in 2018.

This framework, which I call the Four Core Marketing Strategies (since I’m not creative enough to dream up better names for stuff) explain, well, exactly that… The four most important strategy components of your overall marketing plan.

Hmmm… Let me back up two steps and define some terms and hierarchies.

Whether you’re launching a tax firm or revitalizing an old one, having a written marketing plan is critical to the success of the venture. Within that marketing plan, you want to define your top-level marketing strategies for achieving the overall revenue goals of the business. From the marketing strategies, you’ll then select marketing tactics to actually generate leads, prospects, and paying clients.

In other words, you deploy tactics in support of strategies that together all form the big plan. For example, running ads on Facebook is a tactic that could apply to either your cold lead generation strategy OR your lead follow up strategy OR your client retention strategy. You’ll run different ads, with different offers, to different audiences depending on which strategy you’re trying to support. Same marketing tactic, but very different strategies.

In addition to that, I need to clarify what I personally mean when I’m using four other words:

  • list is a bunch of people or businesses that all share one or more characteristics. They are not leads.
  • lead is somebody that has in some way raised their hand and engaged with your marketing. They haven’t talked to you yet, but they have given you their contact information for future follow up.
  • prospect is somebody that has at least scheduled a consultation with you. I use the same term to mean somebody that met with you, but didn’t immediately convert to a client.
  • client is somebody that has both paid you and signed an engagement letter. Both the contract and payment must be received before I call them “client”.

With that background info, back to the Four Core Marketing Strategies, of which I already listed three of them in the Facebook ad example, in case you didn’t catch that. The core four were a framework I created specifically with tax resolution in mind, but the reality is that they apply to every service … Continue reading

Revisiting agent fees for SBA EIDL and PPP loans

While I twiddle my thumbs waiting for the IRS to update the Collection Financial Standards so I can report on it, and while you wrap up tax season over the next 11 days (because you should be blatantly ignoring the May 17 nonsense), let’s not forget about the PPP and EIDL loan worlds.

As you may have heard, the application period for PPP loans has been extended through May 31, with processing extended to June 30. So, plenty of time for your clients to get in both their first and second draw applications if they haven’t already done so.

EIDL application deadlines are always specific to each disaster declaration. For the ‘rona ‘saster, the application deadline is currently December 31, 2021. If your area has been impacted by recent winter storms, hurricanes, fires, floods, tornadoes, civil unrest, earthquakes, drought… Yikes, what a downer… Here, just search the SBA disaster declaration list yourself. There are literally 999 active disaster declarations across the country. Each local disaster declaration will have it’s own application period for EIDL and other relief that your clients might be eligible for.

Ya’ know what, after that depressing paragraph, I hereby interrupt this email to insert some random cuteness…

Image

OK, much better!

As I was saying… There is still plenty of opportunity for you to be the hero and help your clients that need it to obtain these loan funds. But, there’s a catch to being an accountant and helping with SBA loan applications. I wrote about this extensively a year ago, but it’s worth revisiting now as the PPP winds down.

Last year about this time, I was annoyed to learn that some accounting “guru” out there was not only instructing tax and accounting professionals to charge an up front fee for completing the PPP loan application for their clients, but to also charge a back-end contingency fee based on the approved loan amount. This “guru” was setting people up for a visit from an SBA Special Agent (yes, the SBA has law enforcement personnel).

Here is the super-short version of what you need to know about fees in relation to SBA loans:

  1. It is a violation of SBA regulations for you to charge any fee in connection with an SBA 7(a) loan application. PPP loans are 7(a) loans.
  2. It is a violation of SBA regulations for anybody to charge a contingency fee in connection with any
Continue reading