Insights

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.

Retraining Tax Credit Comes Under Closer Scrutiny


Jim Tinsley . 02.05.20

Applications for the Retraining Tax Credit (RTC) are being challenged and declined statewide, though no changes have been made to the RTC guidelines and the same training programs have been readily approved in prior years. Our network of tax credit experts and providers who service SMBs and large corporations confirmed that this is uniformly true regardless of business size.

This developing situation may have an immediate impact on your clients’ current income tax burden. This is what we understand so far:

  • Training for software upgrades is under closer scrutiny, with more programs being disqualified as applying to “routine or minor upgrades” or “business as usual.” The training program must relate to “newly implemented technology” and must represent “significant” new capabilities / functionality / processes.
  • Training on upgrades to quality programs and LEAN initiatives no longer count.

Example: Training on ISO-9001:2015 as an upgrade from ISO-9001:2008 does not qualify, whereas training on ISO-9001:2015 where no previous ISO training does qualify.

  • Training on subjects required under commercial license agreements may now be considered “mandated training” and, therefore, not eligible.

Example: Training automotive technicians on new model year may no longer qualify.

  • Training on mobile tablets (e.g., iPads) now considered routine and, therefore, not “significant,” and no longer qualifies.

We strongly encourage you to contact your clients with this important update, especially those who have used the RTC in the past and who may be budgeting for a credit to offset their 2019  income tax liability.

Please contact your Account Manager if you have any questions.

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!

A Tax-Planning Holiday Story


Jim Tinsley . 12.17.19

It’s year-end tax planning time – an opportunity to sit down with clients and discuss taxes for this year and next. It’s also the perfect time to remember the lessons from Dicken’s classic tale, A Christmas Carol…

The Ghost of Tax-Planning Past:

You spent time with your clients, reviewing your standard list of probing questions, covering everything that might be relevant: taxes, accounting, wills, estate plans, projections for the business and related items.

Thanks to your hard work and diligence last year, your clients received large refunds from the many tax credits you helped implement. They are happy and grateful.

The Ghost of Tax-Planning Present:

This year, you will again take time to identify tax credit opportunities. It’s easy, thanks to TaxCredible and its free, online, Tax Incentive Organizer. After answering a few questions within the organizer, you will uncover additional tax incentive gold nuggets associated with training, cost segregation, R&D and more, for the coming year.

The Ghost of Tax-Planning Future:

You’ve learned the value of keeping in touch regularly, offering expert counsel, and ensuring that your clients see you as so much more than just a “tax preparer.” You are essential to their business success and a part of their future. Client turnover plummets, your firm’s revenue skyrockets.

Charles Dickens would be so proud.

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Try this out: Take one of your client’s year-end tax plans, get together with them and complete a Tax Incentive Organizer to determine the potential tax incentives with this goal. The Organizer questions will help with next year’s tax planning. Use this link to our online form here.

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.

Call Your Clients to Action


Jim Tinsley . 10.23.19

I received an email last month from a CPA. It said:

“I just got off the phone with Joe Smith from XYZ Company. He has your contact information and will be following up about tax credits.”

Two weeks passed and I never heard from Joe. We did finally speak, but not until I went back to the CPA, got Joe’s contact info, and reached out to him directly.

Clients need a reason to get started.

Everyone is busy – if you want others to take action, you need to nudge them in the right direction with specific information:

  • Clients don’t understand what tax credits are. For business owners, “money is money.” Property tax, income tax, tax credits … it’s all the same. More often than not, they don’t understand what these are or how they work.
  • Clients don’t appreciate the magnitude. Many business owners think tax credits add up to just a few hundred dollars and are therefore not worth the time and effort. In truth, many tax credits are worth tens of thousands of dollars. Once your clients understand this, they will be eager to learn more.
  • Clients don’t appreciate the breadth. There are hundreds of tax credits available on federal, state and local levels. You have to ask the right questions and guide them through a structured process to know if your client is eligible. (More on this below.)
  • Clients are not locked down for life. Competitors are knocking on your clients’ doors. Be proactive – discuss tax incentives when you do tax year-end planning with you clients.

So go ahead, pick up the phone now and schedule a no-charge conference call to help your clients take action!

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Try this: Take one of your client’s business goals, sit down together, and complete a Tax Incentive Organizer to determine the potential tax incentives that may apply. The Organizer’s questions will tie directly back to your client’s top business goals. 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 Confide In You?


Jim Tinsley . 08.15.19

Have you noticed the following disconnect?

On the one hand, you’ve spent years with many of your clients – developing trust, growing the relationship, and positioning yourself as someone they can depend on.

But … how often do your clients call to run an idea by you? How often do they share their future plans? How often do they confide in you regarding their business challenges?

It’s frustrating! How can you get them to stop treating you as the “annual tax return filer” and, instead, view you as an indispensable business advisor?

Consider these two steps:

  1. Know what matters most to them. Have a conversation in which you learn about their top two or three business goals. Check in regularly and keep that list current. Also, while engaged in these conversations, always express empathy. Let them know you understand and appreciate the challenges they face!
  2. Support them regularly. As you continually demonstrate your knowledge and authority in all things related to tax, strategy, business structure and business operations, you make it easy for them to listen and confide in you. You can do this by sharing your resources with them every chance you get, whether in-house or from outside of your firm.

Here’s a practical way to get started: If your client feels they are paying too much in taxes, get together with them and complete a Tax Incentive Organizer to find out if they are missing out on any tax incentives. The Organizer questions will tie directly back to your client’s top business goals. Use this link to our online form 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!

How Many of Your Clients Would Hire You Again Today?


Jim Tinsley . 06.15.19

Think back – each of your clients originally hired you to do something specific. Maybe it was filing tax returns. Maybe it was a review and audit of financial statements.

Whatever the initial focus, your relationships have grown over the years and, with that, the services you provide have expanded.

So now you need to know – did a gap form between what each of your clients needs and what you are providing?

Here is how to find out. For each client…

  1. Revisit why you were originally hired. Given the changes in their business and your current offerings, is there still a good match?
  2. Think about what else you could provide. Can you bring something new to the equation? Something they desire but don’t know you provide, or that they need but are unaware of?
  3. Engage in the specifics. Your clients depend on you to uncover every dollar of taxes they DON’T have to pay. Complete a simple tax incentive plan and review it with them (click here to get started.)

It’s a new day! Make sure each of your clients, if given the chance, would hire you again!