On March 20th, 2020, the Accounting community collectively breathed a sigh of relief as the AICPA successfully lobbied the IRS to grant a one-time 90 day extension for tax filing and payments from April 15th to July 15th, 2020. With the impacts of COVID-19 just starting to reveal themselves at that time, businesses were scrambling to figure out if they could keep their doors open to the public, while individuals focused on how to apply for unemployment or access any of the government programs being proposed. The extended tax deadline allowed everyone to focus on what they needed to in the moment, but is now putting accounting firms and individuals alike in what will likely be the same tough position for the next 6 weeks. While the focus of businesses remains on how to just make it through, are public accounting firms feeling more behind than ever?
I spoke with Brian Miller of Zuna Financial Services out of Portland, OR earlier this week, asking him to provide a quick “pulse check” on the market and the obstacles firms are facing right now. “The problem right now is that so many people are requesting help navigating the PPP and EIDL programs that taxes are taking a back seat. It’s been tough to get completed documents so that we can finish the returns, which unfortunately will push us closer and closer to the deadline to get everything done.” Effectively, it seems that when the IRS agreed to the extension, it served as an unintentional pause point.This has now left firms asking the question, am I going to be able to get all of this done in time, especially if I’m now operating with a leaner staff?
This new challenge is presenting an obstacle for many firms who have had to reduce staff or cut back on overtime that has, in the past, been a staple for the industry during tax season. While the hope for the extension was that it would stretch the time for work to be completed, we’re now seeing that in reality, the only filings have been for those expecting a refund, and even then, a smaller group than expected. Public accounting firms may have to look to alternative workforce methods in order to get the work done as many are operating with a smaller staff than ever before. By connecting with a Virtual Network such as Taxfyle’s gig economy of domestic CPAs and EAs, firms that are feeling behind or getting ready for the wave of tax return work coming their way in June can leverage the expertise of skilled individuals around the country without increasing their internal overhead, or paying expensive overtime.
These are odd times and the ability to see beyond what’s happening today, this week or even next month will be crucial for businesses’ long term survival and success. Are you feeling behind right now? How are you preparing for the new deadline and how can we help?