First, I hope that you and all of your families have remained healthy through these unprecedented times. I have heard from a few clients that have gotten the COVID-19 virus and, fortunately, all seem to have come through it ok. I’m pleased to report that our staff, office mates and families have remained vigilant and, knock on wood, have not contracted the virus. It is our intention to continue being smart in how we address this pandemic.
2020 started like seemingly any other year. By mid-March, however, it was apparent this was not just another year. I’ve been in this business for 25+ years and never experienced anything like it. From the delayed deadlines, to the myriad of loan and grant programs we had to get up to speed on, to worrying about how to deliver our clients service safely and effectively; we have had a lot to think about. But now we are on the other side of the July 15th deadline so I thought it would be useful to look back at this year’s experience and our expectations going forward.
Over the last several years, we made a concerted effort to deliver our services more efficiently. From usage of our client access portal, to signing documents via DocuSign, and for the first time this year, usage of Zoom and other communication tools we were well prepared to “flip the switch” and go to a mostly digital service delivery. Our processes are not perfect and we will keep pushing forward with new ways to improve our client experience.
We have not stopped working in the office throughout this whole pandemic. However, in order to maintain the safety of our staff, office mates and families we did implement changes. We stopped seeing clients face to face in mid-March. Rather, we had clients forward their material to us via the on-line portal, mail or drop off box outside our office door. While this is not a perfect solution for anyone, I’m not sure when we lift this policy. Like most people and organizations we are taking it week by week and trying to make intelligent decisions based on the data. Might this “no face to face” policy remain in effect NEXT tax season? I just don’t know. But it is possible if health conditions warrant it. We will keep you apprised of changes to this policy as warranted.
Unlike last filing season, the actual tax preparation part of our days were fairly streamlined. The laws had not changed much and we had a full year to better understand the impact of TCJA signed in late 2017. For the 2020 tax year, not a ton has changed-YET. There were a few changes made via the CARES ACT and there may be more coming through via the 2nd round of stimulus currently being debated in Congress. As always, we will do our best to keep you in the loop on any changes made.
Unemployment benefits ARE taxable. Given the vastly increased number of recipients and the more robust benefits being paid, I expect considerably more clients received unemployment due to COVID. Please do not assume these benefits are tax free. If you received benefits and did not have tax withheld, realize that taxes will be due when you file your 2020 returns.
That should do it for now. If you have any questions about the CARES ACT or any of the COVID programs and relief efforts available, please check our COVID resource page or contact our office.