Navigating These Trying Times: How Has COVID-19 Impacted the Accounting Profession?

When 2020 got started, people in the accounting profession had a lot to be happy about. Many CPAs were looking forward to a busy season, especially considering the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, P.L. 115-97. The financial markets were off to a good start, and everything looked rosy.

Accounting services

Then, along came the coronavirus. Several vital industries tanked, virtually shutting down and disappearing overnight. Millions of Americans are doing what they can be working from home. There probably isn’t a single aspect of the CPA business that hasn’t been dramatically impacted, but new opportunities to help clients navigate these turbulent times have popped up overnight. Unfortunately, there are also aspects of the profession and how it is affected by the coronavirus that needs to be addressed. This includes how in person cpa review courses operate.

Coronavirus Risks in Accounting Functions

The coronavirus—or any pandemic for that matter—was the last thing in the world that anybody expected to happen. As stated before, when 2020 got started, everything was clear sailing. It seemed that circumstances gave little reason to modify any CPA practice’s approach to doing business. With the coronavirus, however, that has changed.

Regarding the audit and attest functions offered by CPA firms, the coronavirus’s impact has led to a pressing need to judge, or at least estimate, the valuations that CPAs put on asset valuation or revenue appreciation. It seems that as severe as the impact that the coronavirus has had on business, it will deserve recognition far beyond the traditional acknowledgment of a footnote in financial reports. This will be especially true in cases where a business fails because of its impact. If this happens, the government will require appropriate reporting that reflects this, but lenders and investors will too. They might even blame CPAs for their losses, citing a failure to anticipate what could be construed as misstatements on financial documents.

CPAs, Taxes, and the Coronavirus

Of course, the government has cooperated to a great extent by allowing tax deadlines to be postponed for many types of returns. Combined with the fact that some have not been extended will make any CPA calendar more interesting. This will undoubtedly impact how CPAs interact with clients, with clients’ blaming their CPAs for any resulting penalties. The AICPA has helped to a certain extent by publishing federal due dates for the latest information.

CPAs and Consulting Services

So much uncertainty still exists about the impact of the coronavirus on business that certain aspects of the practice, primarily consulting services, will probably remain in flux for some time. The effect on these services needs to be addressed proactively, with outreach efforts to detail any modifications of services that might stop, be postponed, or cease entirely.

CPAs and New CPAs

If there is any group that might feel like they are in a state of limbo due to the coronavirus, it might be CPA candidates who have seen sudden changes in CPA review courses and other venues. Just as is the case with other educational institutions, CPA review courses have hit the ground running by implementing online learning for subscribers. It will be interesting to see how the coronavirus impacts the newest crop of CPAs who pass the exam and eventually find themselves navigating the same practice landmines as everyone else.

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