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What to Do If GA DOR Delays a Tax Credit


Dale Stapler . 03.18.20

We are hearing many stories about the Georgia DOR delaying, denying or “still processing” tax credits after a long period of time. We understand this can be frustrating to both you and your clients.

Several things have occurred over the last year or so which may be contributing to this:

  • Department of revenue tax return forms have changed, leading to confusion and errors.
  • The GA DOR is being more particular about the details of credits submitted.
  • Tax credits may no longer be submitted via snail mail – everything is now electronic with e-file.

Taken together, and while it’s true that the GA DOR does occasionally drop the ball and make an error on its own part, these changes are resulting in:

  • Procedural errors or required document omissions by tax return filers (CPA firms).
  • Tax software (such as Thompson Reuters or CCH) that may not correctly match data fields with GA DOR’s interface, resulting in missing or improperly assigned data fields.
  • Tax Incentive Providers (including in-house CPA resources and those provided by client) submitting forms with errors, omissions or missing pre-approvals.

In addition, tax structures may be complex, especially if they have multiple pass-through entities. As the tax credit passes through to the entities, the tax credit may fall through the cracks and not end up with the ultimate tax filer as intended.

For example, when a partnership has multiple partners. One of the partner’s tax credit passes through to a single member LLC (disregarded for tax purposes) and then passes through to an individual tax filer.

Fortunately, these issues may be resolved in most situations. But there is no one-size-fits-all solution; each individual filing must be reviewed to determine precisely what happened and the appropriate steps needed.

If you are in this situation DO NOT call the GA DOR! Rather, you want to create a “paper trail” that can be tracked and redirected to other areas of GA DOR if needed.

Send an email to: taxcredits.inquiries@dor.ga.gov. This is a general mailbox that several GA DOR employees check regularly. You should get an immediate reply acknowledging receipt of the email. Within a week or so, you will receive an email regarding next steps.

You can use the simple “inquiry template” that we have created. Download a copy, here.

Word of Mouth Starts with You


Dale Stapler . 01.23.20

For a CPA, this kind of call is one of the best:

A stranger on the phone begins the conversation by saying that Jack Smith, his buddy at the golf club, suggested he get in touch. Jack told him about all the taxes you have saved him over the years. He wants what you did for Jack.

No prospecting, no cold calling, no dog and pony show. As warm a lead and as easy a sale as you’ll ever see.

It’s great news. But it’s not luck. It started years ago when Jack first became a client…

There Are Many More Jacks Out There

Receiving high quality, prequalified referrals happens as a result of the things you do, year in and year out, for and with your existing clients:

  • Identifying potential tax savings, including tax credits, based on a deep understanding of Jack’s business.
  • Reviewing Jack’s corporate and individual tax returns and providing suggestions for ways to save him additional money.
  • Meeting with Jack quarterly to discuss past results and future plans.
  • Showing Jack on a regular basis how much money in taxes you’ve saved him, year after year.

Needless to say, business would be great if your entire book of business was filled with clients like Jack – clients who see you as a trusted advisor and include you in all money-related aspects of their business and personal life.

It can happen. Take good care of the Jacks and watch as they send friends, family and colleagues your way!

Georgia Update to Job and Investment Tax Credits

Time-critical 2020 Job Tax Credit ranking details have been released by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Click here for details.

Important things to note…

  • The ranking changes apply to Georgia Job Tax Credits and Investment Tax Credits.
  • Changes may adversely impact your clients’ Job Tax Credits, based on their County Tier, overall ranking (Bottom 40), Less Developed Census Tract, or Military Zone.
  • There is no impact on Georgia Opportunity Zone tax credits. However, zones may be added, expanded or removed during the year. Click here for details.
  • A Notice of Intent may need to be filed to maintain a client’s Tier, Zone, or Less Developed Census Tract designation. The form must be filed no later than March 31, 2020. Click here for details.
  • As part of your tax incentive planning with your clients, remember to review their plans for 2020. Job Tax Credits may be available if they plan to increase employment levels, buy another company, open new locations, or change locations in Georgia. It all depends on their location, location, location!

If You Don’t, Who Will?


Dale Stapler . 11.18.19

Here is a typical scenario…

A manufacturing business owner goes to a national trade association conference and attends a seminar in which the speaker discusses tax credits for research and development.

The business owner is intrigued and gets in touch with the speaker. A few months later, the business owner’s CPA receives the tax credit … it’s the first the CPA has ever heard of it.

This is not how you establish yourself as a trusted advisor.

If you want to be seen as more than just a tax filer, so that you can do higher priced work and cement yourself as a critical resource to your clients, you need to proactively discuss tax credit opportunities with them now – while you are in the process of year-end tax planning.

Clients want to minimize their taxes; they depend on you to show them how to do this and the actions they need to take.

That means asking specific, pointed questions to uncover and understand any essential changes in the circumstances of your clients’ businesses.

Remember, if you don’t ask these questions, somebody else will! Once that happens, it doesn’t take much for that “lifetime client” to walk out the door for good.

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Try this: Take one of your client’s year-end tax plans, sit down together and complete a Tax Incentive Organizer to determine the potential tax incentives that may apply. The Organizer questions will tie directly back to next year’s tax planning. Use this link to our online form here.

Don’t Stop at Tax Returns


Dale Stapler . 09.30.19

Last week, a local CPA colleague (David) asked me to join him for lunch with one of his clients. The client is planning to build a 300 room, $40M hotel in Atlanta.

After lunch, David and I talked about how he could add more value to the relationship and begin positioning himself as a trusted business advisor (Hint: It’s about more than just tax returns!).

Four specifics of work that David could provide jumped out from this simple hotel example:

  • Bank covenants. As the project progresses, the lender is going to expect audited statements regarding construction progress, invoicing and more.
  • Cash flow management. Construction projects are heavily dependent on managing the flow of money – both payables and receivables. Invoices need to be paid on time (but not early and not too late). Without proper oversight, things can snowball quickly.
  • Tax structuring. There are many people and entities involved in a project of this size. But it’s not just about complex legal issues; there are complex tax structures and tradeoffs that need to be worked out as well.
  • Tax credits. Cost Segregation, Work Opportunity and other tax credits will no doubt come into play over the life of this project. All of these represent potential cost savings for David’s client.

I suggested that David do some homework (at his high dollar business advisor rate, not his low dollar tax filer rate!) and come back to his client with a simple plan describing these and possibly additional ways he can provide value throughout the project.

For any enlightened CPA, the key in positioning oneself as a business advisor is to ask probing questions, lay out a simple plan, and think more broadly than just the tax returns!

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Try this: Sit down with one of your clients and use our Tax Incentive Organizer to uncover possible tax incentives around a given project or goal. It’s all online and it’s free. Try it here.

Do Your Clients Feel That You Understand Their Business Challenges?


Dale Stapler . 07.22.19

Every business faces challenges, some more than others. As a trusted advisor to your clients, it’s up to you to uncover these challenges, so that you can add value and grow your own practice in the process.

Getting clients to let you in on the details, however, is often easier said than done. They’re busy, and while they may share what’s on the surface, you need to help them dig into what’s underneath – the root causes.

Only by getting their problems out in the open can they see and feel that they need a resolution – and that you can help.

Here are three steps to getting this done:

  1. Get your client talking. About a problem they face, about an opportunity they are considering, etc.  It’s up to you to get the conversation started.
  2. Dig a little deeper. Try to flesh out other concerns related to the challenge at hand. For example, are they overwhelmed with the potential costs, benefits, tax incentives, hidden snags, organizational issues, or something else?
  3. Listen and empathize. You don’t need to discuss solutions at first. Restate the problem, help them to clarify their thoughts, and offer support as needed.

Whether you call it business advisory services, counseling or even “client therapy,” it doesn’t matter.

The more you talk with your clients about their problems, the more they will feel that you understand them. Only then will they look to you to find solutions.

P.S. Here’s a terrific icebreaker to get you started. If your client feels they pay too much in taxes, complete a tax incentive plan and review it together, here!

It’s Prospecting Time


Dale Stapler . 05.15.19

What did your clients really tell you during tax season?

As we all continue to catch up from a very busy tax season, now is a perfect time to uncover the “golden nuggets” represented by hidden tax incentives.

First, review your discussions, phone calls, and emails with clients. In the frantic pace to complete their tax returns, some of their comments may provide openings for additional discussions regarding potential tax credits:

Client: “It’s Hard to find new employees.”

Ask: Why are you hiring? (Potential Job Tax Credit or Work Opportunity Tax Credit)

Client: “Bankers are wanting more data for loans.”

Ask: What are you going to use the loan for? (Potential Cost Segregation Study, Investment Tax Credit or Job Tax Credit)

Client: “Computers and Internet security are a pain in the neck.”

Ask: What areas of your IT have changed? (Potential Retraining Tax Credit)

Client: “The price of real estate has really gone up.”

Ask: Where are you looking? (Potential Cost Segregation Study or other location based tax incentive).

The point is, all of these are signals for potential tax incentives. Mark these items for client follow-up before you move on to your next review.

Remember, your clients depend on you to look out for every dollar of taxes they don’t have to pay. Help them mine their own gold!

How TaxCredible Providers Deliver to You and Your Clients


Dale Stapler . 04.23.19

Once your client is matched with an appropriate tax incentive provider and an agreement is signed, the project is kicked off on the TaxCredible platform.

And don’t worry – it’s not a “black box.” Communication is simple, consistent and all in one place.

As the project progresses, you, your client and the provider can upload documents, add notes, see important reminders and receive notifications when changes are made. Everyone involved has visibility, all along the way.

Once the project is finalized, the completed documents are delivered to you and your client.

You’ll have all the information you need to incorporate into the appropriate tax return(s).

That’s TaxCredible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screenshot: TaxCredible Tax Project Page

Help Your Clients Discover Potential Tax Credits


Dale Stapler . 04.09.19

Every year at tax time, CPAs begin by asking their clients two essential questions: “What did you do last year and what are your plans for next year?”

The list of potential answers is nearly endless, whether that involves creating new full time jobs, purchasing property, upgrading systems, and more.

In most cases, this process requires some additional prodding and questioning. As a CPA, you are applying your perspective and experience to uncover opportunities that your clients may not be aware of.

That’s where our tax incentive planning tool can help.

Log into TaxCredible, click “tax incentive plans,” answer a few questions, and we will connect you and your clients with trusted tax incentive providers who can help.

This positions you as a business advisor: asking in-depth questions; guiding future decisions; and saving your clients money based on how they run their respective businesses, today and in the future.

That’s TaxCredible.

Screenshot: TaxCredible Tax Incentive Planning Page

How Do I Explain TaxCredible to Others in My Firm?


Dale Stapler . 03.26.19

TaxCredible offers a number of benefits to your fellow, in-house CPAs. Some of these include:

  • Tracking all tax incentive information, for all clients, all in one place.
  • Providing a one-stop-shop for all eligible tax credits.
  • Leveling the playing field between smaller firms and larger competitors.
  • Enabling “value added advisory services,” above and beyond tax filing work.
  • Avoiding last minute corrections and the need for amended returns.
  • Eliminating time spent researching incentives and searching for qualified providers.

Most of all, CPAs who take advantage of the TaxCredible platform will never again have to hear the dreaded phrase: “Why didn’t you tell me about this tax credit before?!”

That’s TaxCredible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screenshot: TaxCredible Main Dashboard

TaxCredible is a Sales Tool


Dale Stapler . 03.12.19

TaxCredible is a tool for helping you approach, close and bring on new clients.

It works like this:

Step 1: You identify a prospective client that you’d like to do business with.

Step 2: You do some research (Google, LinkedIn, other public sources) to find out what they are working on. That may include things like new product rollouts, hiring additional employees, or building expansions.

Step 3: You complete a Tax Incentive Plan on the TaxCredible platform to identify incentives for which your prospect is eligible.

Step 4: You approach the prospect, armed with the specific details you need to have an informed conversation: “Did you know that because that plant you just opened is within an opportunity zone you can save $200,000 in taxes?”

Tax savings for your new client. A feather in the cap for you.

That’s TaxCredible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screenshot: Tax Incentive Planning Page