For those over the age of thirty, you’ll probably remember thinking after the attacks on 9/11, the world has just changed. Well, we are watching the world change, in real-time, right before our eyes. The world is changing again, and we will have to change with it.
The way every business conducts itself has been affected by COVID-19. From the mass disruptions in the cruise and travel industries to the postponement or cancellation of most sporting and entertainment events to your local grocery store, no one is immune. For the longest time, we were all concerned about the potential impact of computer viruses in our systems. Although still a concern, it seems to pale in comparison to this biological virus we are all facing.
At GCSE, our primary concern is the health of our employees, their families and all the people that we come in contact with including our clients and their families.
As all businesses must learn to adapt, we at GCSE have developed the following approach, both to be able to continue the level of service our clients have come to expect from us and to minimize the health risks we’re all faced with today.
- Our IT infrastructure has been designed to allow for all members of GCSE to work seamlessly from home. We will encourage our staff to do so whenever possible. Among other things, this will permit families to be together during periods of school closures and the generally accepted policy to maintain “social distancing” wherever possible.
- We will try to minimize the need to attend at a client’s premises. This is both for our staff’s benefit and our clients’ benefit. Most clients will presumably have policies to limit the number of people attending at their premises. Sometimes this approach may not be feasible or practical, but our attendance at a client’s premises will only be with their concurrence. We hope that most clients can provide us with the information required, whether in connection with their personal tax returns or other matters, by electronic means.
- We will encourage as much of our interaction with clients to take place through phone calls, teleconferencing, electronic communications and the like. If a meeting is absolutely necessary, we will attempt to minimize the normal contact protocols.
- Under all circumstances, we are encouraging all GCSE members to practice safe hygiene; at work, at home and at a client, if circumstances require their presence there. This requires constant hand washing, use of hand sanitizer and cleaning all work surfaces and equipment.
- We are limiting or eliminating all work-related travel and have discouraged all GCSE members from any personal travel. Fortunately, this time of year, there is little personal travel for accountants.
- We will be implementing a process whereby all final deliverables will be issued to our clients via secured email, to limit the need for our staff to be on-site to compile paper documents for delivery. If you require alternative arrangements, please contact your GCSE advisor.
We are in the deadline business. Virtually everything we do, certainly from a tax compliance perspective has a deadline. Normally, personal tax returns are due by April 30 (June 15 for self-employed individuals), corporate tax returns are due within six months after the year-end, and perhaps the most urgent right now is that trust and estate tax returns are due by March 30. On March 18, the government has announced various deadline extensions for filing. This includes moving the personal tax return deadline to June 1, 2020, and the payment deadline to August 31, 2020. Presumably self-employed individuals who had a June 15 deadline will continue to have that deadline. In addition, estates and trusts with a December 31 year-end have had their filing deadline extended to May 1, 2020, from March 30, 2020. We have not heard anything further regarding corporation and partnership filing deadline extensions. As always, we will endeavour to meet all deadlines, whether or not deadlines are extended. But we are living in a new world, so we hope to have everyone’s cooperation and understanding during this very difficult period.
We’re all faced with a very dynamic and ever-changing circumstance, both professionally and in our personal lives. It is certainly NOT BUSINESS AS USUAL. We will keep evolving how we will address these challenges and will keep all of you informed on any further relevant information. In the meantime, we will continue to further develop our technology to facilitate inbound and outbound information exchange to better address this new business environment.
Let’s all hope that we can get back to BUSINESS AS USUAL, sometime soon.
Wishing everyone good health and safely navigating the current circumstances
The partners and staff at GCSE LLP