Here’s what’s going on with our firm as a result of Coronavirus — we’ll be updating this post with the latest, so be sure to check here and our Twitter feed as events unfold. (Last updated 15 Jul 2021)
We’ve completed the postponed 2021 tax deadlines and are starting to experience the first breathing space in a year-and-half from all the COVID craziness. Our focus is tidying up our systems, closing out remaining returns, and laying out our normal cadence of business strategy, finance technology, and tax optimization connections with customers. We’re thankfully also able to integrate updated government COVID protocols into our business practices as described below.
Thank you again to all of our customers for your great compassion as we worked hard to get things done and support those in need amidst a wild and crazy time.
Important Notes on Service Workflows
- Appointments: All appointments have been digital for the last year-and-a-half — with this writing we’re able to offer in-person appointments on a limited basis using the following protocols. We’ve re-configured our back space to provide an open-air meeting room with tables that are distanced but still allow conversation and have enhanced air flow. All in-office visitors should wear a protective mask conforming to CDC criteria, observe a basic distance, and avail of our provided hand-washing/ hand sanitizer. We’ll also be taking steps like wiping down surfaces after each appointment. Of course, if you’re feeling ill at all we ask that you reschedule your appointment to once you’re better and no longer contagious. Almost all of our customers have found how easy, convenient, and effective virtual meetings are — they were already a big part of how we did business pre-COVID and will continue to be the default meeting method post-COVID.
- Office drop-off/pickup: We’ve been doing simple document drop-off/pickup outside since summer 2020 — with this writing we’re able to invite you in again to our front office space to make this even more convenient and personal. All in-office visitors should wear a protective mask conforming to CDC criteria, observe a basic distance, and avail of our provided hand-washing/ hand sanitizer. Of course, if you’re feeling ill at all we ask that you wait until you’re feeling better and no longer contagious. You’ll often find our digital systems (like secure upload/ download, e-signatures, etc.) are much easier and preferred, but we want to make this method available to those who find it helpful.
- Sharing documents: For virtual meetings or other cases, be sure to upload any support or tax documents to your e-Cabinet in advance of an appointment so we can look through everything together during your appointment time. Here’s a quick tutorial on using your e-Cabinet our team put together. As a fallback, you can always mail us your documents or drop-off following the method described above.
- E-signing forms: Our existing e-signature platform is the default for signing authorizations, include tax signature forms. As a fallback, you can either: (a) print and mail to our office your tax signature pages, (b) print, sign, scan, and upload them to your e-Cabinet, or (c) print, sign, and drop them off following the method described above.
Some additional resources you may find helpful:
- Our Twitter stream where we’ll be sharing all the latest updates (bigger updates will also be shared to our Facebook page).
- Our Virtual Meetings page where you can enter meetings with our team members.
- Your e-Cabinet where you can securely upload tax and other support documents in advance of appointments, or as follow ups to any missing info identified. (Here’s a video demo of how to access and upload into your e-Cabinet.)
Doing Our Part
Like all of you, we’re so happy to see some normalcy coming back into our lives and the ability to be together. There remains a little further to travel on this wild journey together and we want to continue doing our best to be smart about risk, and fortunately we can flex our strong technology platforms to keep things humming no problem for you.
Please don’t hesitate to let our team know if you have any questions, and here’s to coming out the other side safe and healthy! 🙂
Historical Developments for Reference
15 Jul 2021 —
ElementsCPA updates customer COVID protocols for in-office activity based on applicable changes introduced at federal, state, and county jurisdictions.
16 Jul 2020 —
ElementsCPA operations transitioned from ‘triage mode’ to regular operations.
15 Jun 2020 —
Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced the County is moving to a Modified Phase 2 effective 17:00 on Monday, June 15. Maryland Governor Hogan announced on June 10 that the state is moving to a Next Stage 2 Reopenings to take effect between June 12 and June 19 with local jurisdictions taking at their own pace. Our service workflows are updated starting June 16 to include document drop-off/pickup with safety measures as described in the post above.
28 May 2020 —
Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced the County is moving to a Modified Phase 1 effective 17:00 ET on Monday, June 1. Our service workflows are as described in the post above.
15 May 2020 —
On May 13, Governor Hogan relaxed Maryland’s ‘stay-at-home’ executive order to a ‘safer-at-home’ executive order to take effect on May 15 at 17:00 ET. On May 14, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced that the County continue to observe the ‘stay-at-home’ order through at least June 1. (Our physical office is located in the northern most tip of Prince George’s County.)
Post April 15 —
Our tech platforms are in full flex and our team completely virtual — We’re monitoring developments and government restrictions for a time when it makes sense to open our physical doors again and see everybody in person, something we always enjoy doing and will have special significance once it’s possible again. See the What We’re Doing section below for how to take advantage of our digital platform in full swing.
Despite the significant operational disruptions and massive tax/small business law enactments (all at the height of tax season), our team was able to meet the April 15 deadline (even with its postponement) for all but a small number of cases. We’re now completing tax returns for those who submitted their missing info after the cut-off, triaging support of entrepreneurs navigating relief provisions to keep their businesses aright, tracking modified deadlines to ensure they’re all met, as well as resuming normal monthly routines of strategy planning meetings and more.
ElementsCPA members shouldn’t be shy about reaching out – our team is here as part of your support structure to bridge over this time, and we’ve been keeping up on the latest developments, releasing resources (including blog posts, videos, worksheets, guides, Tweets, & more), and consulting with many folks impacted and figuring their way through. Simply contact us by phone, email, or submitting an online contact request.
Pre April 15 —
The final weeks of tax season experienced major disruption as a result of Coronavirus fallout, both to the broader society and in particularly acute ways to small businesses, not to mention the massive ground shifts in tax laws. We worked ferociously to keep operations going, adapt to the changing environment, absorb the tidal wave of new and continuously developing information, all while trying to complete tax returns during what is already a stretched time of year.
We sincerely appreciated your compassion as our team sought to bend into the wind without breaking, and we triaged supporting customers closing their business, trying to stay afloat, applying for unemployment, applying for small business grants/loans, and more.
ElementsCPA is considered “essential” and our operations are continuing under Maryland Governor Hogan’s order closing all “non-essential businesses” that took effect 17:00 on March 23. This status remains unchanged under the new ‘stay-at-home’ order issued by the Governor on March 30 to took effect at 20:00 that same day.
We had one team member not feeling well the week of March 16 and who rested and was back up and running the week of March 23, working remotely through our virtual platforms. That, combined with the extra energies expended around Coronavirus adaptations, plus the normal tax season craziness, means the week of March 16 was a particularly wild ride (as it was for many). Our focus was to continue operations to serve our customers under the adapted circumstances, including pushing hard to complete returns by April 15 for those who provided all needed info by March 20.
Of course, we appreciate your compassion and support as we all work together to see this thing through.
Pre April 15 —
- March 20 cut-off: Our normal cut-off this year was still Friday, March 20 — this is when we needed the last piece of any missing information in order to guarantee your returns will be ready by April 15. The best ways to do that were: (a) reply to the missing info query e-mailed to you, and (b) upload any missing tax documents to your e-Cabinet. Be sure to let us know when you’ve submitted the last item so we can update your status and get your return into the workflow — the best way to accomplish this is to complete the missing information query that was e-mailed to you and hit the Submit button.
- April 15 tax deadline: The IRS announced the April 15 tax deadline has been moved to July 15. (Previously the form filing and payment components differed, but an update on March 20 synchronized both to July 15.) This move applies both for 2019 returns typically due that day, and for 1st quarter 2020 estimated tax payments typically due that day. Be sure to read our post on hidden implications for the new July 15 tax deadline for discussion about state and other considerations.
- July 15 tax deadline: As described above, July 15 is the new April 15. Depending on your situation, you might opt to pause 2019 tax filing activity and simply re-start in another month or two. Our cut-off for receiving the last piece of information to guarantee your returns are ready by the new date is Friday, June 19, and we are tentatively scheduling tax interviews the latter half of May/early June as part of the new deadline. If you’d like to take this approach, just shoot us a note to let us know — under the updated IRS process, an extension on April 15 is no longer required (though we may need to evaluate your state if it has not yet announced its tax deadline plans).
- March 15 tax deadline: S-corps and Partnerships had an original filing date of March 15, but at the time nothing was announced by the IRS though some states made their own announcements (see the AICPA table link in the above bullet). For most S-corps and Partnerships there’s no financial impact as long as an extension is filed (since these businesses are ‘pass-through entities’ and don’t actually pay a tax with their return). However, there are exceptions at the state level since some states (like DC, CA, and NY) do have a tax and so it’s can differ based on how each particular state will handle it. As a safeguard, we operated as if no relief was expected and followed our normal customer deadline contact processes. On April 9 the IRS did not include calendar year S-corps and Partnerships in the postponement of deadlines to July 15. Be sure to read our post on hidden implications for the new July 15 tax deadline for more analysis.
Additional resources —
- Tax agency updates, including (a) IRS Coronavirus Tax Relief page, (b) MD Comptroller Press Release page, (c) DC Office of Tax & Revenue Blog + Coronavirus Guidance page, (d) VA Taxpayer News + Coronavirus Relief Updates page, (e) AICPA table of state filing guidance, and (f) MD SDAT.
- Additional guides and resources for small businesses figuring out how to respond and adapt, including (a) SBA small business guidance and loan resources, (b) CDC resources for businesses & employers, (c) MD COVID-19 for Business page, (f) DC DCRA Service Updates for Coronavirus, (g) Gusto blog post providing guide for employers, and (h) state and local Coronavirus relief resources.