How to break the mold and go beyond tax

IStock_73233617_XXXLARGE“Now, more than ever, the accounting profession needs to reimagine. That means looking beyond chaos to find opportunity in a new and better normal.” — AICPA Spring Council 2020 “Reimagine” video.

These extraordinary times are only matched by the extraordinary work CPAs in tax are doing. More than ever, CPAs provide services that they wouldn’t have envisioned even a few months ago.  

As CPAs working in tax, you aren’t just maintaining the status quo. You’re the go-to advisers for your clients and are expected to:

  • Have all-encompassing knowledge on new tax laws, the latest tax developments and legislation.
  • Help navigate economic relief measures that the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act enacted, including dealing with payroll, employee benefits, employee staffing, business loans, disaster recovery and bankruptcy laws.
  • Focus on tax planning strategies related to business losses, tax credits, tax benefit comparisons, state and local taxes and other tax opportunities.

Clients are also asking you to provide non-conventional services such as:

  • Assisting with loan applications
  • Advising on retirement plan distributions and loans
  • Evaluating business risks
  • Assessing business contingency and continuity plans
  • Evaluating cybersecurity and information technology systems

Although you might not have previously considered offering new services, you have helped your clients and community through this crisis. With a strong foundation of tax knowledge and business acumen, you inherently have the background and experience necessary to extend yourself to be advisory-centric.

When we move past the pandemic, a lot of CPAs still will provide tax compliance and tax planning services. But the conventional tax practice can evolve. CPAs have proven they can be the central network for advisory services and strategic business partnering in tax, financial planning, forensics, valuation and technology. It’s a natural fit.

Reimagining roles beyond those of a tax adviser only strengthens your value to existing and prospective clients.

To evolve your own practice, focus on those advisory-centric skills you’ve used in the past month. Look for more insights with the AICPA body of resources that are available to get you to the next level in tax advisory, forensics and valuation services, personal financial planning and information technology.

Also, consider enhancing your value and earn a credential to reinforce your strong service offerings. You’ve been offering non-conventional services in this rapidly changing and tumultuous environment, so why not keep doing it, but better?

Minh Graham, CPA, Lead Manager — Association of International Certified Professional Accountants