Monday, April 6th, 2020

AICPA Coalition Recommends PPP Applicants Use Gross Payroll Approach in Calculations

“The role of genius is not to complicate the simple but to simplify the complicated.” – Criss Jami

WASHINGTON, DC (April 4, 2020) – For the calculation of the Average Monthly Payroll cost under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Gross Payroll approach should be used for the application, according to the recommendation from the AICPA-led small business funding coalition
. This recommendation was developed in conjunction with the National Payroll Reporting Consortium (NPRC). It comes after the additional guidelines Treasury and the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued on Thursday.

For the calculation of the Average Monthly Payroll cost, we recommend that payroll providers and CPAs use Gross Payroll based on 2019 data versus Net Payroll (defined as Gross Payroll less federal withholding and employee FICA). Neither the CARES Act nor the recent guidance instructs the PPP applicant to exclude federal withholding and employee FICA for the 2019 period. The Average Monthly Payroll cost includes Gross Payroll and the other defined PPP payroll cost elements such as health care, etc.

“Treasury and the SBA have acted quickly to generate this small business stimulus. As key stakeholders in the implementation of the PPP relief, we are collectively working to drive consistency in the interpretation of the administration’s guidance. Our goal is to help produce an efficient application process to quickly get the funds in the hands of small businesses and their employees,” said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com.

Mark Koziel, CPA, CGMA, the AICPA’s executive vice president of firm services, added, “Based upon statements from members of Congress, it appears that the intent of the PPP was to base the salary calculation on gross wages with no adjustment for federal taxes. This ensures that payroll tax expenses are not passed on to the small businesses in need. In a program of this magnitude, it’s expected that guidance will evolve and terms will be clarified.”

The AICPA also said that its discussions with Treasury, SBA, banks and payroll processors to address these and other issues are ongoing and that it will keep its members, coalition partners and small businesses updated on the efforts to protect Main Street America.

  • "I'm full of fears and I do my best to avoid difficulties and any kind of complications. I like everything around me to be clear as crystal and completely calm."
  • Alfred Hitchcock

Saturday, April 4th, 2020

Lighten-Up It’s The Weekend – The First Sign of Civilization

“One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night.” – Margaret Mead

I saw this on Facebook so who knows if it is correct or not. Still, I think it is very inspiring and we all need some of that right now.

Years ago, anthropologist Margaret Mead was asked by a student what she considered to be the first sign of civilization in a culture. The student expected Mead to talk about fishhooks or clay pots or grinding stones.

But no. Mead said that the first sign of civilization in ancient culture was a femur (thighbone) that had been broken and then healed. Mead explained that in the animal kingdom if you break your leg, you die. You cannot run from danger, get to the river for a drink or hunt for food. You are meat for prowling beasts. No animal survives a broken leg long enough for the bone to heal.

A broken femur that has healed is evidence that someone has taken time to stay with the one who fell, has bound up the wound, has carried the person to safety and has tended the person through recovery. Helping someone else through difficulty is where civilization starts, Mead said.”

We are at our best when we serve others.  Be civilized.

  • "Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else."
  • Margaret Mead

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

Snooze Is Not For You

“How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable.” – Seth Godin

I have been amazed that, even though I have been observing the Stay At Home order now for nearly three weeks, that time seems to fly by quickly. It has always been that way for me, even as a child I was never bored.

For my many CPA firm friends, I know that this busy season is moving quickly and even with the extended due dates, you are still focused on that April 15th date for many of your clients. Time is flying by! There isn’t time to hit the snooze button.

However, when you return to focusing on how to more efficiently and effectively manage your firm, you will most likely hit that snooze button.

Here’s an informative post from April last year. It’s Flashback Friday and time for you to remember that snooze is not for you!

  • "Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them."
  • Kevin Stirtz

Thursday, April 2nd, 2020

Continuous Testing For The CPA Exam

“Testing leads to failure, and failure leads to understanding.” – Burt Rutan

We are hearing a lot about testing, COVID-19 testing. But here is some good news about testing.

If you have been working in pubic accounting for a while you are aware that the CPA Exam has evolved and changed as society and resources have changed.

Beginning July 1, your firm’s candidates will not be confined to a designated time frame.

This from the Journal of Accountancy:

A new “continuous testing” model for CPA Exam candidates is scheduled to make its debut on July 1, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) announced Tuesday.

Under the continuous testing model, candidates will have the ability to take the exam year-round, without restriction, other than waiting to receive scores from previous attempts of the same section or when there is a major change to the exam.

Continuous testing will replace the existing CPA Exam testing window model, which limits candidates to testing during designated time frames in each quarter during the year.

NASBA is continuing to serve as a resource to the boards of accountancy as they advocate for the legislative changes needed to enable the transition. Of the 55 U.S. accountancy jurisdictions, just one (South Carolina) is expected to be unable to offer continuous testing before 2021.

Read the entire article here.

  • "I'm forever testing myself. As a person and as an actor, I have no sense of competition."
  • Michael Caine

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

Interview Questions For Remote Workers

“The individual needs to be someone who can be successful with a level of independence.” – Jennifer Farris

At this point in time, almost all of us are remote workers. When we move into summer, hopefully, many of you will be returning to the office to work. Going forward, there will be a strong trend to hire remote workers.

From an article via Fast Company, former Google recruiter Jennifer Farris, who is currently the chief people officer at Terminal, a company that establishes teams of engineers for companies around the world, tells us:

“The biggest factor of being able to work remotely is if you can get work done without someone looking over your shoulder,” she says. “Sometimes a really talented worker can have a harder time adjusting to the new world of remote working arrangements. They might need extra support—someone physically close to them. It’s not for everyone.

Farris recommends some areas to thoroughly explore:

Previous Experience – Past experience is a good indicator of future behavior. It would also be helpful if they completed some of their education in a remote environment.

Communication Skills – They must be proactive in finding solutions or help. Ask them how they have done this in the past.

Also, find out how they like to be managed. What do they expect from management?

Be sure to read the entire article. It will help you ask the right questions when hiring remote workers in the future.

  • "You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world…but it requires people to make the dream a reality."
  • Walt Disney

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

Your Staffing Model

“Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.” – George Carlin

I have been thinking that maybe CPA firms would be busier than ever in 2020. But, maybe I have been thinking wrong.

I read this morning that Friedman, a well-known Top 100 firm laid-off 50 people on March 26. You can read all about it here via goingconcern.  A recent survey found that 41% of accountants believe job cuts will happen at their firm because of COVID-19.

The article makes it sound like Friedman did not handle the situation very professionally. One person’s comment:

The person knew something was up when they were locked out of their computer on Thursday morning. So they called IT.

“They immediately slammed the phone down. I guess they knew I was on the fired list,” the person said.

What about your firm? Do you have a people plan ready for moving forward in 2020 after the tax crunch is over? I still believe that there will be so much work that needs to be done helping clients understand all the new rules and guidelines and also, helping them with budgeting and planning how they will survive into the future.

 

  • "When I was 16, I worked in a pet store. And they fired me because they had three snakes in there, and one day I braided them."
  • Steven Wright

Monday, March 30th, 2020

Client Service At Its Best

shayna2

“The key is when a customer walks away, thinking ‘Wow, I love doing business with them, and I want to tell others about the experience.’” -Shep Hyken

I know and work with a lot of small CPA firms. One CPA I have admired for years is Shayna Chapman, Founder & Chief Strategist of Shaynaco LLC.

Shayna tweeted the following last Saturday at about 6:00 p.m.

I’ve spent 2 days personally calling every biz client, explaining the new bill as best as I can, preparing them for what will be needed. Also explaining I don’t have ALL of the answers yet, but we’ll work to get them. These have been hard times, but the best conversations.

I know you are busy with taxes. Your clients need more than that right now. It is a time of sailing unchartered waters. Now, and in the foreseeable future, they are going to need more and more from you. It’s time to get busier!

  • "Just having satisfied customers isn't good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create raving fans."
  • Ken Blanchard

Friday, March 27th, 2020

Too Many At The Top

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

There are many CPA firm partners who are nearing retirement. They have always dreamed of passing their firm on to the next generation, dreamed of having it survive. Sorry to say, that is going to be an unfilled dream for many small to mid-size firms.

The reason? They are top-heavy. They are counting a few top performers to replace many, including some non-performing partners?

Read this post about the Upside Down Pyramid – it’s Flashback Friday!

Stay safe!

  • "The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool."
  • William Shakespeare

Thursday, March 26th, 2020

Keep Communicating With Your Clients

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” – Plato

I happen to be on the mailing list of many CPA firms and I have been so pleased to see how well you are all communicating with your clients.

Now is the time they need reassurance from you. They will need lots of assistance in the days, weeks and months ahead and you are their “go-to” person.

I have assembled some of the communications as inspiration for you. You can download a copy of my compilation of just a few of the emails firms are sending to clients.

 

  • "Good communication is just as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after."
  • Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

The New Challenge of Leading People Remotely

“Being supportive is always important—but in times of crisis and separation, it’s critical.” – Dolly Daskal

In my office at work, many years ago, I had a magnetic sign stuck on the side of a metal file cabinet (remember those?) that said in big letters “Shit Happens.” It was where no one could see it but me! One of the partners gave it to me.

That pretty much described my focus back then. I was the firefighter, the policewoman, the physical Wikipedia and lots of challenges came my way. I welcomed the challenges but sometimes it was very frustrating (thus the sign). Things do just happen.

Now, as a leader in your firm (managing partner, HR director, Practice Manager, COO) lots of challenges have come your way (Big S— Has Happened).

If you are seeking help on how to do your management job in a remote environment Dolly Daskal has written an informative post.

Here are some tips:

  • You should be more supportive than ever.
  • You should be more present than ever.
  • You must keep people more informed than ever.
  • Be sure to show that you care more than ever.
  • You should bring more clarity than ever.
  • You should lead by example more than ever.

Daskal gives you more explanation for each of these tips in her post. Be sure to read the entire article.

  • "It’s harder to show caring from a distance, but a time like this, when people are feeling anxious and isolated, is when a personal touch is most needed. "
  • Dolly Daskal