More than 1 in 5 Accountants Are Not Charging for PPP Services

By Sandi Leyva

Over 600 accountants responded to a recent survey sent out by CPA Trendlines and Accountant’s Accelerator about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and one of the questions we asked was whether accountants were charging for services related to PPP. Typical services include loan acquisition, loan forgiveness, review of Form 3508, tracing assistance and risk management advice.

The survey found that 22 percent of respondents are not charging their clients for PPP services and the overwhelming majority are doing it to increase client retention, build goodwill, and do their part to help their clients and the economy.

Goodwill and Client Retention

“I want my clients to survive” was a frequent comment when we asked why accountants decided not to charge them for PPP advice. Here are some other comments from survey participants.

“I was in a position to help; When a client’s house is burning down, how do you charge for helping?”

A few participants had a long-term agenda in mind.  “Clients are already struggling and can’t afford any more fees. [Not charging them] builds loyalty and I hope to increase fees later to compensate.”

“I did what I could to help my clients keep their business.  This served everyone, even myself as I kept them as clients.”

“My job is to do the best for my clients and in these trying times, keeping them afloat in the end meant I stay afloat in the end.”

Other participants saw the big picture and served the greater good. “Clients applied for PPP because they were suffering financially and worried about the future of their business. This is my way of supporting the small business community.”

“[I was] trying to do my moral part to help the country.”

A minority of PPP survey respondents cited other reasons for not charging. One was that they had clients on fixed fee monthly plans and considered PPP services to be covered under their existing plans.  Another reason cited by a few respondents was that they spent very little time advising on PPP so it didn’t justify writing up an invoice.

A handful of respondents were confused about charging for PPP services.  Some said they thought they couldn’t charge. One mentioned that they didn’t know what would be appropriate to charge.  Another mentioned being concerned that the service scope might be outside their malpractice insurance.

A few others were just simply surprised by the time and scope of learning PPP. One said they “didn’t realize how much would be involved.” And another said they decided not to charge but now with the vision of a few months of PPP complexity hindsight admitted, “Because I’m an idiot.”