Tax & Accounting Blog

Knock, Knock: How the New Tax Law Puts Opportunity and Adventure on Your Doorstep

Accounting Firms March 6, 2018

This article was co-authored with Andrew McCracken, Lead of External Delivery

Opportunity is a funny old thing — and so are we human beings. We all dream of the day the perfect opportunity knocks at our door. Sometimes we can’t greet it fast enough. Other times, we hide in the kitchen because we’re afraid to let it in.

“Wait, why would anyone be afraid of opportunity?” you might ask. Well, taking advantage of opportunities can be a lot of work. In fact, at times it can even be uncomfortable — or, let’s face it, risky.

But when opportunity translates to success, the resulting sense of accomplishment and adventure can be life-changing.

“Who’s there?”

Take the new tax law, which presents the profession with a major opportunity — to reach out and serve the many clients who have questions and concerns about what it means to them and their businesses. Sure, it’ll take some work on your part, but if you’re ready for a rewarding adventure you’ll want to open this door.

I’ve heard practitioners say they don’t need to worry about it this year. But phones are ringing, and questions are being asked now. And I don’t think I’m telling tales out of school to say that many practitioners — buried as they are by tax season — are too occupied with glancing back at what was, instead of looking ahead at what could be.

Think of looking backward as like driving a narrow, windy mountain road by keeping your eyes glued to your rear-view mirror — not the best idea if you’d like to reach the top of the mountain. You’re much better off (and less likely to plummet over the side) if you look ahead.

“Opportunity.”

Right now, you have the perfect opportunity to look ahead with your clients. Instead of forgetting about it until next year, use your willingness to be proactive to your advantage. Your clients are looking to you for trusted answers during an uncertain time, so why not get a plan in place now to help your clients through these changes?

Here are a few items to consider as you develop your plan:

  • Planning is key. Proper planning will ensure that your business clients can enjoy the maximum benefits offered under the Qualified Business Income Deduction. And don’t forget capital investment planning in relationship to the new depreciation bonus limits. Even for individuals, a simple tax projection with the delivery of this year’s return can lead into more expanded tax planning and advisory opportunities.
  • Two words: Business coaching. Do your small-business clients understand the new laws? Are they taking advantage of all the new law has to offer? Do your small businesses really know how to run the financial side of the business, or are they making it up as they go along? Find out, because there’s never been a better time to step in and ensure things are running smoothly for these clients.
  • Consider your individual clients. Will their deductions be disallowed? Can proactive changes be made to ensure deductions are maximized? With the increase in the standard deduction, is it possible that some of your individual clients may no longer need your standard services? If so, what other services can you offer them to strengthen and improve their experience? Go beyond tax preparation and planning and look for individual coaching opportunities around cash flow, debt, and retirement planning.

“Opportunity who?”

Curious how other practitioners are taking advantage of the new law to work with their clients? Mark Martukovich of FMA, CPA recently gave me a great example of the way small discussions can lead to a big payoff and help to solidify client relationships.

According to Mark, “Our firm is using this opportunity to take a more proactive approach toward planning with our business and individual clients. As we’re completing tax returns this year, we’re highlighting to our individual clients those items that will change on their tax return next year.

“For example, I recently completed a tax return for a client who has a home equity line with a significant interest deduction that will go away next year. After discussing how the line was created and used, we determined he would be better off converting it from a line to a loan to continue getting the benefit of the interest deduction in 2018.”

“Opportunity for adventure and reward!”

Each year, I attend many thought leadership events. I constantly hear that firms are struggling with how to move into the advisory services business. Many are anxious about making that initial outreach, which is understandable. After all, it’s scary to move out of the day-to-day work that’s so familiar and take a chance.

But taking that step can be so rewarding — not only to you, but to your clients. Most practitioners know they need to make the shift; they’ve just been looking for the right opportunity. This new tax law puts that opportunity right in your lap.

Not sure where to start? You don’t have to go it alone. Thomson Reuters is jumping right in, looking at our products and services to ensure we have the right tools to help you help your clients. In fact, this summer my team will lead a new training course, “Know the Law, Use Your Tools™.” This thought leadership-style course will show you how to mine opportunities using tools that are already available. We’ll discuss changes in the law, and help you develop an action plan for identifying and starting to work with your target clients. Plan now to register for the session — you won’t want to miss it.

Listen — do you hear that sound? It’s the sound of opportunity, and it’s knocking at your door. Let’s answer it and take on this new adventure together!