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critical infrastructure designation for tax preparer

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last updated ‎April 25, 2020 12:55 PM

The US DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY DOES NOT ADDRESS THE DESIGNATION OF CRITICAL

INFRASTRUCTURE WORKERS  TO INCLUDE TAX PREPARER WORKERS OR BUISNESSES. THESE

GUIDELINES AS ADDRESSES IN THEIR GIDELINES DATED APRIL 17, 2020 ARE USED BY MANY STATES INCLUDING CALIFORNIA FOR THE BASIS OF QUALIFYING FOR THE NEWLY CREATED SELF EMPLOYED UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS. IF YOU HAVE CLOSED YOUR BUISNESS BECAUSE IT IS NOT IDENTIFIED AS AN ESSENTIAL CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE ACTIVITY YOU WILL QUALIFY FOR THE NEW BENEFITS.

HAS ANYONE FOUND ANY DOCUMENTATION INDICATING TAX PREPERATION AS A CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE ACTIVITY ALLOWING YOU TO REMAIN OPEN AND SERVE THE PUBLIC AS A TAX PREPARER?

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10 Replies 10
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Level 15
Level 15
last updated ‎April 25, 2020 12:55 PM

As far as Ive seen essential businesses are decided by local authorities, so if they shut you down, your beef is with your state governor or city mayor...Ive been in my tax office everyday.   Im not seeing face to face clients, but Im there in my office working on mail-ins and drop-offs.


♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥Lisa♥¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪
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Level 10
last updated ‎April 25, 2020 12:55 PM

As I understand your question, you are trying to show that you are not essential so that you can collect unemployment in a state that uses the federal list of critical occupations to determine eligibility.  

Have you applied and been turned down? Then the unemployment agency should be able to point you to a source that shows you are essential. Otherwise, finding a list of nonessential occupations is something like finding a list of nondeductible medical expenses, like pistachios you eat while waiting to see your doctor.

On the other hand, maybe you are concerned that some tax practitioners are collecting unemployment when in fact they are essential, because they support first responders, healthcare workers and employees at the wastewater department. Not to mention, they do a lot of data entry for the IRS, a law enforcement agency. That might apply to some people who know how to use lower case.

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Level 14
last updated ‎April 25, 2020 12:55 PM

Does whatever list you are looking at include financial services? Broadly, income tax preparation falls under that.


ex-AllStar
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Level 10
last updated ‎April 25, 2020 12:55 PM

The “Financial Services” sector was renamed in 2013 from “Banking and Finance Sector.” Its description:

The Financial Services Sector includes thousands of depository institutions, providers of investment products, insurance companies, other credit and financing organizations, and the providers of the critical financial utilities and services that support these functions. Financial institutions vary widely in size and presence, ranging from some of the world’s largest global companies with thousands of employees and many billions of dollars in assets, to community banks and credit unions with a small number of employees serving individual communities. Whether an individual savings account, financial derivatives, credit extended to a large organization, or investments made to a foreign country, these products allow customers to:

1. Deposit funds and make payments to other parties
2. Provide credit and liquidity to customers
3. Invest funds for both long and short periods
4. Transfer financial risks between customers

Maybe accountants and tax preparers come under “providers of the critical financial utilities and services that support these functions.” The Homeland Security website then says that the Treasury Department owns the policy for this sector, and then links to the Treasury home page, which is a rabbit hole if you want to find more information.

The Homeland Security website for all this is

https://www.cisa.gov/identifying-critical-infrastructure-during-covid-19

 

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Level 14
last updated ‎April 25, 2020 12:55 PM

I guess I was thinking of MD's rules for essential services. They included financial services and their definition included accountants and tax preparation. I assumed (bad on me) they used the federal definition.


ex-AllStar
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Highlighted
last updated ‎April 25, 2020 12:55 PM

Thank you for your thoughtful response. I am trying to anticipate various scenarios that will arise for those preparers in California including myself upon implementation of the state's roll out of its Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, (PUA), to be implemented on April 28,2020. There are 11 qualifying scenarios covering those working as independent contractors or self employed individuals in their guidelines currently posted at, WWW.edd.ca.gov/about.edd/coronavirus-2019/pandemic-unemployment-assistance,. 

There are two applicable qualifying situations that could be claimed by most preparers as I read them.

1. Your place of employment is closed as a direct result of Covid-19.

2. If you work as an independent contractor with reportable income,you may also qualify for PUA benefits if you are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work because  the COVID-19 public health emergency has severely limited your ability to continue performing your customary work activities, and has thereby forced you to stop working. 

I have received 3 responses to my posting representing a start to the dialogue. I can only assume every state will respond differently to the CARES act. However it is important for all tax preparers to understand that these programs may mean YOU. My volume of clients and appointments dropped off a cliff when our governor issued a stay at home order and closure of non essential businesses in the 3rd week of March, along with an extension of the Tax Season to July 15, 2020 in accordance with the federal policy. While my office remains open I do not do face to face interviews and communicate by phone, email and fax. This is critical for me as I am 72 years old and spent all but 2 months of 2019 being treated for colon cancer including four surgeries  and am currently going through the recovery period. The good news is I am cancer free at least for the moment. Apparently my God thinks I'm essential as well as my wife both of whom I have to deal with on a daily basis. This fact alone would also meet one of the 11 qualifying criteria of the PUA program.

The point to all of this is there may be an opportunity to avail yourselves of this aspect of the CARES program no mater what state you live in. This would apply to both those working in big offices as non employees as well as independent business operators significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees would fall under the normal unemployment programs in your state.

I would be interested to hear from those in other states as to what is happening in your neighborhoods. God bless be safe.

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Level 15
Level 15
last updated ‎April 25, 2020 12:55 PM

Arent tax preparers considered "seasonal"?   

I could have sworn I read on the EDD website that seasonal self employed persons don't qualify for unemployment.


♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥Lisa♥¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪
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Highlighted
last updated ‎April 25, 2020 12:55 PM

You are absolutely correct seasonal self employed persons do not qualify for unemployment in California or most other states. That is why the federal government as part of the CARES legislation recently passed created an new program specifically covering  business owners,self employed individuals and independent contractors. The state of California has called their version of this program the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. This program has not been initiated as of yet and is due to start accepting applications through the EDD web site on Tuesday, April 28, 2020. The benefits described are as follows:

Phase 1

$167.00 per week for each week you qualify from February 2, to March 28, 2020 due to COVID-19 reasons.

Phase 2

$167.00 plus $600.00 per week for each week you qualify from March 29,2020 to July 25, 2020, due to COVID-19 reasons. The $600.00 is federal CARES money.

Phase 3

$167.00 plus $600.00 per week for each week you qualify from  July 26, 2020 to December 26, 2020 due to COVID-19 reasons.

Since the program has not been rolled out yet all of the fine print is speculative subject to the final guidelines being published and the application process initiated. 

If you go to: www. edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019/pandemic-unemployment-assistance or just search the edd web site for PUA you should be able to get all the qualifying parameters and description of the program available at this time. 

This is exactly why I asked my original question because most tax preparers are seasonal as well as independent contractors or self employed and have traditionally not qualified for unemployment. This is a brave new world we all seem to find ourselves in and its important to stay informed both from a business prospective as well as a health prospective. 

Good luck, God bless be safe.

 

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Level 15
Level 15
last updated ‎April 25, 2020 12:55 PM
I have many clients here in CA waiting for the EDD to be updated for the PUA for SE people!

♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥Lisa♥¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪
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Level 12
last updated ‎April 25, 2020 12:55 PM

"in the 3rd week of March"

But CA seems to be going back further. This is MT PUA posting:

"Expanded Federal Benefits for Self-Employed and Others

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program expands unemployment benefits to those not covered under regular unemployment. This includes people otherwise able and available to work but who, due to COVID-19 related reasons set forth in the CARES Act, are currently unable or unavailable to work. If that sounds like you, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits under PUA.

Montanans filing for PUA will be able to indicate when their job-loss or partial unemployment occurred and if that date falls on or after March 15th, an eligible claimant may receive payments backdated to that week. The March 15 date is consistent with the onset of local and state social distancing directives, school closures and Governor Bullock’s “Stay at Home” directive.

Under the CARES Act, you may be eligible for $600/week, for claims active between the weeks ending April 4, 2020 to July 25, 2020, in addition to your unemployment benefits. If so, that will automatically be applied to your claim. There is nothing you need to do.

We encourage anyone filing for PUA benefits to gather proof of income documents now, such as recent tax returns and 1099’s, so they are readily available if needed."

 

Which is crazy, because my spouse, a musician, lost jobs starting mid-Feb. That means at least 6 weeks worth of value is not being considered. And, with the new rules for fewer tables, we figure the musicians won't have any gigs through to Fall, except perhaps outdoor venues. All of those festivals and events already got canceled, as well.

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