Summer means it’s time for our second tax check-in for our business customers… Have you talked to your small business owners yet? This year with the new tax law, it seems like everyone has questions. Now that the new 199A regulations have been released, we have a better idea of what’s going on, although it’s still vague and uncertainty remains.
When we moved to value-based engagements, this check-in became routine and it became a regular part of how we serve our customers. This is part of the added value that our customers are willing to pay extra for. A typical engagement for us includes a tax return and cloud-based financials that are either prepared or balance sheet reviewed, plus four check-in meetings a year. During the summer months, we take care of the balance sheet reviews. This allows us to create and discuss year-over-year financials, issues around cash flow, and a tax projection.
Clearing up the confusion
This year, tax projection seems so fuzzy. It’s hard to make judgement calls when we barely have regulations out. So we purchased CCH Tax Projector, which helps clear up some confusion. Using the software, we have been able to create a little tax information package that we review with each of our business customers. Is it the perfect solution? Absolutely not. Never in my career have I felt so much uncertainty around the tax projections that I’m creating. Yet, I am still providing assumptions and tax projections…
This is truly what tax advisory is. We have lived in a compliance-based world for so long that I think we have forgotten what tax advisory consists of. This is not tax research, with one answer, that’s more or less right or wrong. This is truly walking your customer through the known options and suggesting a set of alternatives. Within that set of assumption-based alternatives, the right answer is the one that’s right for your customer.
Turning uncertainty into peace of mind
Get comfortable with that uncertain feeling. And get comfortable with our customers pushing back against uncertainty and wanting absolute answers.
There should be just enough information for the customer to feel they understand how to make the right decision. That’s what advisory is, and that’s what makes a customer love you. It’s not the exact right or wrong answer regarding a tax projection… Remember it is a tax projection.
What they remember is that you took the time to explain to them how their specific situation could possibly change. And that you gave them options and peace of mind. They will feel encouraged that you are engaged and you are applying the new law to their situation as soon as the rules become clearer.
Also, remember this quieter time in the summer allows you to get ahead on tax season by completing work that traditionally would not be done till year end. You say you don’t have these engagements as part your firm… What’s stopping you? Start them and tell your customers you are doing it because of the new tax law. Even if you begin them in September, you’ll still be ahead of the game.
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Author: Jody Padar, CPA, MST
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