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Don’t Ghost Your Accountant After Tax Season

This article originally appeared on the Rochester Business Journal with our own Timothy Ball as a contributor located here.

The extended 2020 tax season has now come to an end and both accountants and their clients are breathing a sigh of relief. The past year was filled with several major legislation changes that heavily impacted the filing process. While you may be ready to file your accountant’s contact information away until next January, there are a few reasons why you should reconsider.

The business impacts of a global pandemic, a wounded economy and a change in the oval office proved difficult to navigate for even the most seasoned business owners. Accountants, among other business partners such as attorneys, bankers and payroll providers, were called upon to go above and beyond their existing scope to help business owners secure loans, apply for tax credits, make strategic staffing changes, reopen their doors safely and more, as guidelines and funding opportunities changed almost daily.

During this crisis, the accounting profession proved time and time again that they are more than just number crunchers. Accountants flexed their muscle as trusted advisors who often understand business and operations as well, if not better, than many other professional partners. With a focus on business strategy and an emphasis on planning and execution, good accountants don’t just tell you what the bottom line is, they also tell you how you got there, and how you can improve it.

As the accounting profession evolves to encompass more strategic advisory services, different qualities and measures of success have risen to the top of the checklist when choosing an accounting partner. Look for the following attributes to ensure your accountant can help your business thrive:

Diverse Professionals

 An accounting firm that employs qualified accounting professionals from a variety of backgrounds and advisory skillsets is well positioned to assist your business through thick and thin. Their diverse experience and abilities will bring valuable advisory abilities to the table, whether your business needs to increase profitability, maximize operational efficiencies, minimize organizational risk or solve complex business problems stemming from regulatory compliance issues.

Solution-Based Thinking

 As often as possible, your discussions with your accounting team should be solution-based consultations. Your interactions should not be limited to just sharing numbers and paperwork and your accountant returning a report a few days later. In a good professional relationship, your accountant will have regular conversations to better understand your business goals, highlight relevant regulatory changes, strategize for the future and propose solutions to help you get there.

Customized Services and Solutions

 There is no one-size-fits-all accounting solution. Every business’s needs and growth path are different. Your accountant’s solutions — stemming from detailed conversations and assessments — should stay consistent with the purpose of your organization, whether that’s building the bottom line, serving the community or protecting taxpayer money. Through knowledge of your business and their own background and expertise, your accountant should design solutions that make the most business sense for you.

Depth of Knowledge and Resources

 Throughout the pandemic, accounting experts have provided relevant financial and regulatory information to assist businesses in applying for Paycheck Protection Program loans, Employee Retention Tax Credits, Shuttered Venue Grants, Restaurant Revitalization Fund Grants and more. Accounting experts have stayed up to date on the latest regulatory requirements in a way that most business owners simply don’t have time for. By design, accountants continuously monitor relevant laws and regulations to stay current on processes necessary for their clients to remain compliant. Having an accountant as a ready and capable resource to tackle these ongoing issues allows business leaders time to focus on simply operating and growing their business.

The pandemic is (hopefully and thankfully) coming to an end, but the need for accounting and advisory support remains. Businesses are facing new challenges every day as they work hard to meet the evolving needs of their customers and employees. As the Biden administration sets its sights on post-COVID legislation, including potential tax code changes, massive investments in infrastructure and more, continued consulting support will be vital.

Even though the tax season is technically over, the work is far from done. Accountants will continue to work hand in hand with attorneys, financial advisors , and cybersecurity experts to keep a strong and resilient business connection between strategy, innovation , and compliance — just one of the many reasons to maintain the relationship year-round, not just during tax season.

The information and advice we are providing for this matter relates to COVID-19 legislative relief measures. Because legislative efforts are still ongoing, we expect that there may be additional guidance and clarification from regulators that could modify some of the advice and information provided to you, after the conclusion of our engagement.  We, therefore, make no warranties, expressed or implied, on the services provided hereunder.