Your business clients are dealing with a barrage of information as the coronavirus pandemic evolves. The deluge of new requirements, rules, and recommendations related to COVID-19 has become overwhelming for many entrepreneurs. As a result, some of them may have temporarily lost sight of their ongoing business compliance filings.
They need your help!
Fortunately, many state governments have deemed professional services providers in the financial and legal industries as essential. Even if your business is under stay-at-home orders, you have ways to serve your clients remotely by embracing technology tools, like video conferencing. This puts you in a prime position to provide guidance and expertise (within the parameters of licensing, laws, and your qualifications, of course) to business owners in desperate need of direction.
Below are my tips for helping your clients keep their businesses compliant through the Coronavirus chaos.
1. Communicate Proactively
Less is more when communicating with clients during periods of information overload.
Cover Key Changes to Your Business
Tell your clients what they need to know about any changes to your operations. Examples include:
- Altered business hours
- Modifications to how you will exchange information
- New services you are providing
- Services you have put on hold
Leave Out Unnecessary Details
Avoid conveying information that your clients do not need or will not care about. They have limited time and attention spans. Carefully review all communications before sending them to recipients to ensure your message is relevant to your audience, clear, and succinct.
2. Keep Clients on Task and In Compliance
Your business clients have much on their minds right now. Between answering their customers’ questions, fulfilling orders via new methods, managing their teams amid restrictions, and doing everything possible to stay open or re-open, something is bound to slip through the cracks.
Keeping up with business compliance filings and rules cannot be one of those things! Fines, penalties, and even suspension or dissolution are possible punishments for non-compliance. If they fail to complete their compliance responsibilities, your clients risk losing everything they’ve worked incredibly hard for.
Several critical compliance areas to address with your clients include:
Income Tax Filing Changes and Requirements
The federal government and many states have revamped their income tax filing and payment deadlines. In some cases, filings for the first quarter of 2020 are now due AFTER the filings and payments for the second quarter of 2020. Nuances like these can cause confusion. Some states have also modified their franchise tax, sales tax, and other reporting and payment filing deadlines, too.
It’s essential that business owners understand the income tax filing changes that affect them—at the federal, state, and local levels. The AICPA (American Institute of CPAs) has been maintaining a chart with a list of tax updates by state.
Annual Reports for LLC and Corporations
Likewise, many states have extended the due dates for annual reports.
The following states are those we’re aware of—as of this date—that have announced annual report filing extensions for LLCs and corporations:
- Arkansas – New due date: May 1, 2020, with late fees waived until July 15, 2020
- Connecticut – New due date: June 30, 2020
- District of Columbia – New due date: June 1, 2020
- Florida – New due date: June 30, 2020
- Georgia – New due date: May 1, 2020
- Kansas – New due date: July 15, 2020
- Maryland – New due date: July 15, 2020
- New Hampshire – New due date: May 1, 2020
- Texas – New due date: July 15, 2020
The states have made these due date extensions automatic. However, if your clients need more time to file and pay any related fees, they must go through their state’s process for requesting an additional extension.
Remind your clients that they must abide by email marketing laws (including the CAN-SPAM Act) when promoting their products and services via email. Campaign Monitor has created a helpful guide to help businesses ensure their email marketing efforts follow the rules.
Several key takeaways for businesses include:
- Don’t send email marketing messages to anyone without their permission. Permission may be “implied,” if your client has a business relationship with the recipient. Or, it may be “explicit,” if your client doesn’t have a business relationship with the recipient, but the recipient has opted in to receive their marketing emails.
- If someone unsubscribed or asked to be removed from your client’s email list, your client should not arbitrarily add them back to the distribution list. If recipients haven’t voluntarily re-subscribed, your clients should not be sending them marketing emails.
- If the email is an advertisement, clients must identify it as such. Your clients should not try to hide when an email is of a promotional nature. As Campaign Monitor’s guide explains, there are creative ways to clearly identify an email as an ad without a verbatim statement like, “This is an advertisement.” For example, a subject line such as “25% Off On All Orders This Week” and using the company’s name in the “From” field would allow recipients to recognize immediately that it’s a sales email and identify who is sending it.
- Make it easy for recipients to opt-out of receiving future emails. Clients should make sure their email platform gives recipients the option to unsubscribe. Recipients should be able to find the unsubscribe link readily in the email.
Stay-at-Home Orders for Non-essential Businesses
Many business owners who operate companies deemed “non-essential” are frightened and frustrated by stay-at-home orders implemented by state governments. Those incapable of shifting to remote work or selling products online fear for the livelihoods of their families and their employees.
Orders vary from one state to the next, as do what qualifies as an “essential” business. It’s important for your clients to understand the rules they need to follow. Also, they need to understand the ramifications of not following those rules. Texas salon owner, Shelley Luther, defied her state’s laws and re-opened her business before legally allowed. Though she received accolades online from people who are at their wit’s end with the restrictions, she went to jail for a week and received a hefty fine.
3. Augment Your Services
To help your clients stay on top of their business compliance responsibilities and reduce their stress level, consider augmenting your list of available services. Now is an ideal time to add business compliance filing services to your business’s portfolio of offerings. Not only will you provide more value to your clients, but also you will open a new revenue stream for your business.
CorpNet’s Partner Program
The CorpNet Partner Program is a free program available to accountants, CPAs, bookkeepers, enrolled agents, lawyers, tax professionals, business consultants, and business coaches. As a CorpNet Reseller or Referral Partner, you can help your clients maintain compliance by assisting them with their business filings in all 50 states.
- Business registrations – Articles of Organization (LLCs) and Corporation Articles of Incorporation (corporations)
- Business name availability checks and reservations
- DBAs – Fictitious business names
- S Corporation Election – IRS Forms 2253 and 8832
- Initial Reports and Annual Reports
- Business permits and licenses – Federal, state, and local
- Foreign qualification – Registration in additional states to conduct business
- Articles of Amendment – For changes to a business’s formation documents
- EIN – IRS Form SS-4
- Sales tax registration and SUI filings
- Registered Agent services
- Dissolutions – Articles of Dissolution to officially close a business entity
- Conversions – Changing from one entity type to another
- Reinstatements – Restoring an entity to good standing after it has been suspended or administratively dissolved
How Does the CorpNet Reseller Program Work?
CorpNet serves as your silent fulfillment partner as you provide business formation and compliance filing services under your brand name. As a reseller, you receive wholesale pricing on all CorpNet products and services—20 to 50 percent off our retail prices—and you bill your clients at the rates that you’ve set.
We do all of the work behind the scenes and never contact your clients. CorpNet’s team will prepare and file all of your clients’ paperwork according to your preferences and specific instructions. With our reseller program, you get private label services, a dedicated account manager, and fast, reliable, accurate, and personalized services.
How Does the CorpNet Referral Program Work?
You refer your clients to us, and then we’ll do all the work and send you a commission check for the sale. If you prefer, you can waive the commissions and instead pass on a discount to your clients. As a referral partner, you get a dedicated account manager who will give you and your clients VIP treatment.
For more information about both programs, visit our CorpNet Partner Program FAQs.
How Will You Help Clients Cut Through the Noise?
As a business owner, you can relate to the frustration and fear your clients are feeling. Fortunately, you have knowledge and insight to help them navigate through this challenging time. Remind them of the important compliance requirements they may have overlooked and consider handling their compliance filings for them—with CorpNet’s help.
Apply now to join the CorpNet Partner Program!