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:
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!
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.
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:
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!
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!
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).
Screenshot: TaxCredible Tax Project Page
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.
Screenshot: TaxCredible Tax Incentive Planning Page
TaxCredible offers a number of benefits to your fellow, in-house CPAs. Some of these include:
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?!”
Screenshot: TaxCredible Main Dashboard
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.
Screenshot: Tax Incentive Planning Page
Our industry has relied on Prepared By Client (PBC) Task Lists for years.
These are somewhat helpful, but they are antiquated, buried inside a closed system and provide limited visibility to your clients and others.
Plus, when you are trying to manage multiple tax credits from multiple providers, it can quickly become a tracking nightmare.
The TaxCredible platform provides a secure, multi-user system that identifies tax credit opportunities, tracks all necessary data and documentation, and keeps authorized parties in the loop as projects progress.
All credits, from all providers, for all of your clients … all in one place.
There are hundreds of tax incentives available to U.S. businesses. The State of Georgia alone lists over thirty tax credits on its web site; the IRS lists many at the federal level.
Add in 49 more states (plus the District of Columbia and other local governments) and that’s a lot to keep track of.
Unfortunately, this means that there are times when a client may learn of a credit for which they are eligible and ask, “Why didn’t you tell me about this before?”
The TaxCredible platform will help you avoid this uncomfortable situation.
Log in, answer a few questions, and we will connect you and your clients with one of our Provider partners who can help.
Screenshot: New Tax Incentive Plan
You don’t need us to remind you of last year’s Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). The changes were significant, resulting in modifications across a wide range of rates and provisions.
One thing that didn’t change are the rules and regulations regarding federal (and state) tax credits. These remain in place as always, meaning that you can get started helping your clients benefit from tax incentives right away.
Our platform is there to help you do exactly that.