With 2021 coming to an end, the tax season will soon begin. Small business owners will make their appointments to meet with CPAs to work on and submit their tax returns. Naturally, a good accountant will be able to file on time and do their best to lower their clients’ tax exposure and avoid audits. They also create financial reports at the end of the year and provide advice on estimated tax payments that should make during the year.
However, a great accountant can do much more than that. After all, he or she knows better than anyone just how successful a business is and, in many cases what a business can do better, including ways to boost revenue and cut costs, improve cash flow, manage inventory, and secure small business financing.
Above all, a competent CPA can help solve business problems. Never was that more evident than during the government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) when millions of American small businesses had to compile documentation in order to take advantage of PPP funding opportunities.
In September 2020, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), its business and technology arm, CPA.com, launched CPALoanPortal.com with Biz2Credit to streamline the process for CPA firms advising small businesses on loan forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program and additional small business funding options that clients may need to fund growth.
The portal has been an effective platform for CPAs and their clients who sought government-backed business relief. To date, the portal has allowed users to process and obtain around 40,000 PPP loans totaling over $1 billion in business relief for small businesses. The offering has now expanded to term loan financing — a natural extension of capabilities for CPA firms.
“CPA firms played a critical role in supporting small business owners throughout workplace shutdowns and the emerging recovery,” says Erik Asgeirsson, President and CEO of CPA.com. “As trusted advisors, they’re being asked to do more for their clients and need sophisticated tools to deliver these services efficiently and effectively.”
More recently, the cloud-based financing platform added a business term loan option for CPA firms’ small business clients. The term loan option offers online applications, competitive financing terms, quick turnaround on loan decisions, and funding amounts ranging from $25,000 to $1 million at non-variable interest rates. The ability to capitalize quickly on opportunities can be an enormous difference maker for small and medium-sized businesses.
“The evolution of the CPA Business Funding Portal reflects this expanding role, as well as the profession’s swift movement into business financing advisory services,” Asgeirsson says.
For example, Tony Khait, CPA, PFS, the owner of Eco-Tax, Inc., a Brooklyn-based CPA firm, used the CPA Business Funding Portal over the past year to secure PPP funding and forgiveness for clients. He says he now plans to leverage the platform to support his clients’ future business financing needs.
“No one knows my clients’ businesses better than my staff and me,” Khait said. “We’re looking at their financials every day. We know their short and long-term business goals. With the CPA Business Funding Portal, we can strengthen our connection as their trusted advisor by recommending the right term loan to meet their unique needs.”
In addition to filing taxes and helping clients secure small business loans, CPAs also perform services such as providing virtual CFO services, developing financial projections, offering financial advice, and even playing a role in succession planning.
When looking to find the right CPA, small business owners should consider more than just tax knowledge. A good accountant can make a dramatic difference for a small business owner by helping to improve reporting, planning, efficiency, and prepare for long-term business growth. If your business has fallen behind on its tax obligations, a CPA can frequently set up a reasonable payment plan with the IRS or state tax collector to get the payments up to date.
The best CPA-client relationships are partnerships in which the CPA is a trusted advisor who can help guide the financial ship through times of smooth sailing and rocky waters. If you are looking to find someone, ask other business owners whom they use, inquire with your local chamber of commerce or Small Business Development Center (SBDC), or visit the AICPA directory. Ask for a list of services offered and the names of some references. If everything works out, find out how much the firm charges and establish the desired regularity of contact.