The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is causing enormous consequences across the globe, and I know many of our members, students, staff and the accounting and finance community at large, are experiencing uncertainty and concern for what’s next.
My heart goes out to each of you. Whether you’ve been affected directly or indirectly by this horrific pandemic, our world has been upended. I know you’re doing everything you can to mitigate risks and help keep your businesses running. Your firms, organizations, clients and communities are depending on your expertise during this crisis.
As CEO of the largest membership organization representing accounting and finance professionals globally, it’s my responsibility to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to help you through these challenging times.
In a recent video message, I shared some of the ways we’re working to support you. Here are some highlights:
We’re delivering resources.
We know staying up to date on the coronavirus crisis is critical to do your job. Our AICPA and CIMA Coronavirus Resource Centers provide the latest news, resources and guidance to help advise your organizations, clients and customers. Visit often to stay up to date on COVID-19 and find out about upcoming learning opportunities, including webcasts and social media info sessions.
We’re advocating on your behalf.
We’re also directly addressing governmental issues on behalf of you and the clients and businesses that you serve on a global stage.
In the U.S., we heard from many of our members that the coronavirus is making it increasingly difficult for taxpayers and tax advisers to file on time and in a safe manner. With your help, we called upon the Treasury Department and the IRS for tax payment and filing relief and were successful in our efforts. We also worked with Congress to share your concerns and further urge the administration to provide much-needed relief. We’re grateful that the filing deadline for federal income tax returns and payments traditionally due April 15 was extended to July 15, however, broader tax relief is greatly needed. We continue to call upon Treasury and the IRS to extend all federal tax and information returns, and payments due between March 3–July 15, postponing those deadlines to July 15. We also have a list of 100+ questions we’re working with the IRS to address for the benefit of taxpayers and preparers. We recognize that, like many organizations in the world, the IRS is operating at 50% capacity right now and we need to be patient as we await their responses. You can find immediate answers to questions about state tax deadlines, how states are defining essential services and much more at the AICPA Coronavirus Resource Center.
We also called on the U.S. Congress and the Trump administration to take 9 key steps to protect U.S. businesses and employees struggling due to the impact of the coronavirus on the economy. One of these steps included support for U.S. small businesses, many of which were forced to shut down. We are leading a coalition with Paychex, Intuit, the International Franchise Association and more than a dozen other organizations to advocate for proposals that keep small business open and resilient, and employees paid.
Our efforts have paid off: The new CARES Act includes many of the provisions we championed for including money for employee salaries, benefits and business expenses, and loan forgiveness. We were also the key small business voice for a grant for small business payroll. While the $350B of funding is at its inception a “loan,” it converts in eight weeks to a grant. This allows small businesses to continue funding their employees. It also helps to shorten the start-up time when small business can renew business. You can learn about this new legislation and the implications for small business owners in this video.
In the U.K., we called upon the Chancellor to adopt five key measures to further help the self-employed, sole traders and small and micro U.K. businesses hit by the growing coronavirus outbreak. Our recommendations include access to state-backed loans, income grants at the same level for self-employed as for employees of companies, reduction of the value-added tax (VAT), consolidation of communication channels and extension of business rates holiday to SMEs and suspension of evictions.
We’re happy to say that the U.K. Government adopted several of these measures in its final plan, but we think there’s more it can do to help the small business community. So, we wrote to the UK Chancellor again with six additional recommendations that we believe will make it easier for businesses to function during this time of crisis.
Globally, we’re in active discussions with governments across many countries, and will continue to keep you updated about our work to support and protect the finance and accounting community.
We’re supporting our students.
We recognize the learning journeys of our CIMA students and CPA candidates have been disrupted with the closure of test centers worldwide. We’re doing everything we can to enable you to continue studying and progressing toward your designations.
For CIMA students, we’ll be introducing remote testing beginning in May 2020 for all case-study and objective testing, which will allow you to take proctored exams from your own home.
For CPA candidates, we’re working with NASBA and the state boards to extend scheduling and extension timelines while Prometric testing centers are closed. We’ve also removed blackout windows and will be testing continuously when Prometric sites reopen.
We’ll continue to provide updates on our Resource Centers and are identifying opportunities to help you continue to learn during this time.
We’re asking you to support each other.
Our community needs to come together during these difficult times. Act compassionately and concerned toward your colleagues and peers. Foster community in the profession. If you haven’t heard from a peer in a while, check in on them. Share resources and information to help the accounting and finance community manage the physical and emotional stresses of this crisis.
The AICPA and CIMA Benevolent Funds are resources for members going through temporary periods of financial difficulty. If you know one of our members in need, refer them to the respective Benevolent Fund at the link. And if you feel compelled to help monetarily, we ask that you consider giving to these funds.
We’re here to help.
Keeping our staff, members and students safe and well is our top priority. To help slow the spread of COVID-19, we’ve temporarily closed offices in jurisdictions where it’s recommended by local government to do so. These closures will not affect our level of service to you. Our staff is equipped to work remotely and is here to serve you. If you have a question or need anything, don’t hesitate to reach out.
We’re proud to serve you.
Our profession is needed now more than ever. Your expertise and skills are invaluable to clients and employers as they mitigate the financial impacts of this crisis. The medical profession has a daunting task to solve the physical health issues of the world. We salute them. Our profession will be the key trusted, ethical and competent profession to drive the world to economic health in the future.
Thank you for all you do for your clients, organizations, the profession and the public. And may all of you, your families, colleagues, clients, employees and communities stay safe and healthy.
Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA
CEO at Association of International Certified Professional Accountants; President & CEO at American Institute of CPAs