This tax season has been the most brutal Shaun Goodman, a chartered accountant, has seen in his 14-year career.

Goodman, a partner in the Goodman CPA Group in New Jersey, worked 20 hours a day with a small team to help clients navigate the Paycheck Protection Program, a loan program the government adopted this spring to helping small businesses weather the coronavirus pandemic.

These requests came on top of a three-month tax filing season longer than usual. When his wife gave birth, Goodman was so busy he couldn’t spend time with his family.

“I had half a week to spend at home and then I had to go back to work because there was no way I could do my tax return if I took more time,” Goodman said. .

Now that the extended season is over, CPAs speaking to Bloomberg Tax say they felt pushed to their limits, working overtime during a time when they would generally have a slightly slower pace. The pandemic has disrupted their normal operations, forcing them to juggle child care and customer issues at home, while many struggled to get answers from the IRS.

Some CPAs fear that any rest now will be short-lived because other deadlines are looming and businesses will continue to need help. But this constant need for advice presents an opportunity to get more business and ultimately help more people.

“They realize we’re all in the same boat, so we need to help each other out as much as possible,” said Cindy Hockenberry, director of tax research and government relations at the National Association of Tax Preparers.

Virus Lending Frenzy

As the federal government attempted to throw money out the doors of businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program in early April, the frenzy lobby CPAs to advise many new companies.

“Everyone has come out of the woods, not just our repeat clients, but new clients,” said Sabrina Cook, owner of a North Carolina-based CPA firm. “People we haven’t worked with before were going out and needing help with how to apply, how to meet the requirements.”

The PPP has been a central pillar of the government’s response to the pandemic. In the CARES law (Public law 116-136), the government authorized nearly $ 350 billion in loans that could be canceled if certain conditions were met. But as soon as Congress passed the bill, the Treasury Department, IRS, and Small Business Administration issued a series of regulations to help as many businesses as possible.

More regulations meant more rules to sort through. CPAs have become the go-to source for advice, general information and clarity.

CPAs have said they have made an effort to adapt and comply with new rules that businesses must follow to ensure they are eligible for a loan forgiveness. The authorities had to introduce new rules to clarify that companies could choose to keep the first set of regulations. But until then, companies were left in limbo, presenting more problems for financial advisors like CPAs to solve.

Shayna Chapman, owner of Shaynaco LLC in Gallipolis, Ohio, said there was an urgent need for PPP loans, especially for those in it. rural community who risk losing their business, added major stress that overshadowed normal tax filing time pressure.

“I think it made some of us a little mean when we would otherwise be really nice to our customers and just take the heat,” she said.

“Buy a drink from your CPA”

The work is not yet done for CPAs. In the 30 years that NAPT’s Hockenberry worked for the organization, this deposition season has been the most stressful and extraordinary considering all the moving parts of government relief programs, from unmanned telephone lines to l ‘IRS and general anxiety about the pandemic.

Adam Traywick, owner of a Fort Worth, Texas-based business, said he would leave for a few days and then go straight back to the office to help clients with an increased volume of tax extension requests .

After tax return extensions are processed, PPP exemption requests will need to be processed for businesses that have received loans. This could last until December.

“I have a feeling that there is going to be a bit of work to be done on P3 forgiveness – hand all this information to the banks and try to sort it out – hopefully before the end of the year and before d. ‘entering another tax season,’ Traywick mentioned. “We’re all pretty tired right now.”

In the meantime, many CPAs have said they are grateful for being able to help their communities, despite the long hours, the changing regulatory landscape and the sometimes overwhelming stress caused by the pandemic.

“When you get the chance,” Cook advised, “buy your CPA a drink. They really need it. “

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