Are You Offering Your Clients PPP Services?

By Sandi Leyva

Clients have inundated accountants all year with questions and issues about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and no end is in sight. Earlier this year, it was all about loan acquisition. Now, borrowers are gearing up for loan forgiveness and asking their CPAs for assistance.

Types of Services

According to a survey from CPA Trendlines and Accountant’s Accelerator, 84 percent of the 600+ respondents have assisted clients in some aspect of PPP support. Here is the breakdown of the type of PPP services offered:

  • 76 percent helped with loan acquisition
  • 77 percent are helping with loan forgiveness
  • 44 percent of respondents have reviewed the forgiveness Form 3508 for clients
  • 27 percent of survey participants ae helping clients trace the use of PPP loan funds.
  • 17 percent of survey respondents are advising on risk management related to the loan.

A handful of participants wrote in a few other services, including accounting treatment, tax planning, timing of forgiveness application, research, and supporting document management. One participant added this service: “hand holding the nervous as they keep hearing ‘wait to file for forgiveness.’”

Types of Engagements

We asked survey participants how they are treating the PPP services from an engagement standpoint.  The majority are treating it as a consulting engagement.  Here are the results from that question:

  • 59 percent are engaging in a consulting service
  • 10 percent are treating it as an agreed-upon procedure
  • 38 percent said it depends on the client
  • 5 percent chose “other” and wrote in to explain

Many of the write-in answers said they weren’t charging for the services. Others said they treated it as accounting service, tax service, management advisory service, payroll service, or bookkeeping service.

The New PPP Advisor

Learning the ins and outs of PPP and consulting with clients has fallen on firm employees in a variety of roles, according to our survey. It’s a horse of a different color, perhaps even a zebra.

IRS is not involved, so it’s not really a tax issue except for the huge issue of deductibility for which there is no federal guidance as of this writing. Yet tax professionals are getting involved because they have experience interpreting the laws and completing forms designed by government bureaucrats.

Finance professionals are getting involved too, since it is a loan and they have the relationships with the banks.

Here is what our survey showed about who has taken on the role of the new PPP consultants.

  • 44 percent are primarily tax professionals
  • 12 percent are primarily accounting professionals
  • 1 percent are normally auditors
  • 6 percent are usually advisors
  • 29 percent do it all
  • 8 percent chose “other” and listed a combination of above. A few mentioned bookkeepers, and one mentioned litigation support as their primary role

While the never-ending stream of new PPP guidance and the sheer complexity of the forgiveness application might make you want to pull your hair out at times, offering PPP services is one of those rare opportunities to truly become your clients’ hero. It’s a chance to deepen your connection, celebrate together when the forgiveness approval is received, and increase prosperity for both of you in the long run.