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Building relationships, not just client accounts

Thoughts on an Unusual Tax Year

Cynthia Cox

August 21, 2020

Another “busy season” has passed, and, unlike in previous years, I felt compelled to write something to our clients and others about my thoughts on the abnormality of the past 7 and a half months.

A Sooner Than Expected Move

This year began with a small shock to us at Cox Holsted & Associates, PC. In January, when the coronavirus was just an interesting news story that was seemingly only effecting victims in China, our landlord told us that our month to month lease would be ending that month instead of April as we had originally planned. We had planned to move into our current space at that point, but the extremely short notice left us moving into the space over the span of a weekend. Those of you who have visited our office know that we are in a work in progress currently, but we look forward to invited everyone into our finished space later this year. Luckily, the technology we use allows us to work from anywhere, and we, just like many, were about to find out just how lucky were are to have this ability.

World-Wide Pandemic

As it became clear that the United States was being effected by COVID-19, the Treasury Secretary made the decision to extend the tax deadline to July 15th. Around this time, cities and states all over the country were starting to implement shutdown measures just as the CARES Act was passed. Fortunately for us and our clients, CPAs were put on the essential workers list. At a point when we would normally be working late hours to complete tax returns, we pivoted our focus to helping our clients with obtaining much needed relief that was coming available from both Federal and State governments. Even the language around our office changed. Almost all team communication involved things like the CARES Act, EIDL, and PPP Loans.

What many may not realize, is that our work was not easier during this time. We spent countless hours, in conjunction with The Oklahoma Society of CPAs, the American Institute of CPAs, and our partners at Rootworks, Payroll Vault and many local banks, trying to keep up with the seemingly unending amount of information coming from Washington, trying to update our clients, and waiting for answers to still unanswered questions. The majority of our team spent countless hours preparing an entire year’s worth of financial statements and other documents for many clients who don’t take advantage of our monthly services, and helped the majority of our clients who applied get much needed PPP funding. All while continuing to prepare the returns that were coming into our office.

Much Knee-ded surgery

Just when we were shifting our focus back to tax preparation, Douglas Holsted, Vice-President and the one who completes the majority of all tax returns that come through the office, had to make a very difficult decision. With the late tax deadline, Douglas had put off much needed knee surgery. He had to choose between being in pain through July 15th, or having knee surgery as soon as possible. We all urged him to opt for the latter. While we were down a major team member for a few days, our technology allowed him to work from home (something the majority of our team was already doing by then). We are delighted to report that Doug is already walking 8 miles without issue.

A Historic Tax Season

Although tax season was expanded by 91 days, that did not mean it was any easier, and I challenge you to find a CPA who would say otherwise. It is human nature to put off unpleasant tasks until the last minute, and for most people, taxes are one of the most unpleasant of tasks. Not everyone enjoys tax law the way our team does, so it should be no surprise that we have been working like mad for the month of July. And with the next deadline approaching, we are still working hard to deliver the service you deserve.

It is in the last 3 weeks of tax season, and really the last week, that clients think to submit their documents, and schedule appointments. Although this didn’t change, if one good thing came out of the terrible situation we are all still dealing with, the majority of our clients took advantage of services we have been providing for years: virtual meetings and secure, electronic document sending.

What We Learned

If I can leave you with one piece of advice, it is to get your tax records in as soon as possible. This is true for both businesses and individuals. Businesses who had their books up-to-date had an easier time applying for funding, and those individuals to filed by April were able to get advice for the 2020 tax year earlier in the year.

We are just under a month away from the extension deadline for S-Corps and Partnerships, and if this year is anything like the previous years, more than half of those clients will not send us their information until after Labor Day. This is extremely frustrating for us, and not only because it gives us just over a week to complete these returns, but because we are unable to really help these businesses and give them the best advice possible. And while we feel this frustration every year, with all of the major events of 2020, these businesses may be in for surprises that could have been prevented.

We understand that taxes are the last thing you want to think about, but putting off filing only hurts you. Please do not wait until the year is over to get advice.

I want to thank everyone who has helped us throughout the year. Everyone who helped us move, everyone we collaborated with, Dave Evans (our business coach at RLC) who helped keep us focused, and the entire team who stepped up more than we ever asked them to.

Lastly, I want to thank our clients. We quite literally could not do our jobs without you. We received so many kind words of encouragement, and, especially in a stressful and unpredictable year, we would like you to know that those seemingly small gestures of thanks kept us motivated and mean so much to us.

We hope we never have to experience this again, but through adversity comes strength, and we are happy to become stronger with you.

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