Florida Business Forum Podcast

Employee Retention Credits -- Real or Scams -- CPA Expert Kash Sharfi Has the Truth

September 14, 2023 Sam Yates, Yates & Associates, Public Relations & Marketing Season 1 Episode 38
Employee Retention Credits -- Real or Scams -- CPA Expert Kash Sharfi Has the Truth
Florida Business Forum Podcast
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Florida Business Forum Podcast
Employee Retention Credits -- Real or Scams -- CPA Expert Kash Sharfi Has the Truth
Sep 14, 2023 Season 1 Episode 38
Sam Yates, Yates & Associates, Public Relations & Marketing

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Kash Sharfi, the CEO of Advantage Accounting & Tax CPAs, is one of the most respected voices in the CPA community in South Florida. Mr. Sharfi recently sat down with Florida Business Forum host and business guru Sam Yates to explore Employee Retention Credits or ERCs as they are known.

The Florida Business Forum discovered many business minds in Florida simply have a vacancy when it comes to the real truth about this special COVID employee funding reimbursement program. 

The truth is ERCs are real. However, the inside business scoop is you really DO need a CPA to claim the credit and help your business stay on the legal side of the refunds. 

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The Florida Business Forum Podcast is produced by Yates & Associates, Public Relations & Marketing, and hosted by Emmy Award winning reporter and television anchor Sam Yates. If you or your business or not-for-profit organization would like to share your news with our Florida, national, and international audience please contact Sam Yates, Sam@YatesPRO.com.

The Florida Business Forum Podcast is the only business forum of its kind dedicated to Florida news, business, and not-for-profit organizations. When Florida business minds need to know, they turn to The Florida Business Forum Podcast first!

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The Florida Business Forum Podcast is affiliated with the Pod National News Network USA providing business news podcasts to every State in the U.S.A. The Florida Business Forum Podcast is herd throughout Florida, the United States, and 32 countries and territories.

Direct Media Inquiries to Sam Yates, Sam@Yatespro.com.

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Show Notes Transcript

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Kash Sharfi, the CEO of Advantage Accounting & Tax CPAs, is one of the most respected voices in the CPA community in South Florida. Mr. Sharfi recently sat down with Florida Business Forum host and business guru Sam Yates to explore Employee Retention Credits or ERCs as they are known.

The Florida Business Forum discovered many business minds in Florida simply have a vacancy when it comes to the real truth about this special COVID employee funding reimbursement program. 

The truth is ERCs are real. However, the inside business scoop is you really DO need a CPA to claim the credit and help your business stay on the legal side of the refunds. 

Support the Show.

The Florida Business Forum Podcast is produced by Yates & Associates, Public Relations & Marketing, and hosted by Emmy Award winning reporter and television anchor Sam Yates. If you or your business or not-for-profit organization would like to share your news with our Florida, national, and international audience please contact Sam Yates, Sam@YatesPRO.com.

The Florida Business Forum Podcast is the only business forum of its kind dedicated to Florida news, business, and not-for-profit organizations. When Florida business minds need to know, they turn to The Florida Business Forum Podcast first!

Program Sponsorships are available starting at $500/monthly with a minimum six-month sponsorship.

The Florida Business Forum Podcast is affiliated with the Pod National News Network USA providing business news podcasts to every State in the U.S.A. The Florida Business Forum Podcast is herd throughout Florida, the United States, and 32 countries and territories.

Direct Media Inquiries to Sam Yates, Sam@Yatespro.com.

Sam Yates:

Hello, everyone and welcome to another informative episode of the Florida Business Forum Podcast. Let's open the Florida Business Forum floodgates and let the information begin to flow. Here's your Florida Business Forum information guru and Anchorman Sam Yates. Hello, everyone, the information floodgates are indeed open and flowing on another episode of the Florida Business Forum Podcast. And we're very proud today to say that we offer information for business minds in Florida that are seeking new things, new information about business, not for profit, topics of business interest. And today's guest promises to be very interesting, especially if you're like me, and 1000s of other people, other businesses, not just literally hundreds and hundreds of people that probably have either gotten a telephone call, or they've seen a commercial offering you up to$26,000 per employee in COVID funds. For those two bad years that we happen to have with the COVID situation you're going Wow, is that true or false? What's going on here and we have a mythbuster with us, Kash Sharfi. He is the CEO of Advantage Accounting and Tax LLC. Welcome to the program today.

Kash Sharfi, CEO, Advantage Accounting and Tax LLC:

Thanks for having me. We're really excited to talk to small business owners and do our part to help. Thank you.

Sam Yates:

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I know that you're the CEO, but you're a South Florida based company. Tell us about you and your company.

Kash Sharfi, CEO, Advantage Accounting and Tax LLC:

Okay, so me personally, I was born and raised in Palm Beach County. Our family is lifelong second generation residents of Florida. I actually left the state to do my studies to go into undergrad. But that kind of gives me a benefit. That means that when it comes to sports, I love all the Florida schools Florida, Florida State Miami, FAU USF UCF got love for all of them. We're really all about Florida. And at our firm, we are exclusively focused on helping small businesses. A lot of CPA firms will do sexy stuff like cryptocurrency or high net worth individuals. We are almost 100% exclusively focused on small businesses, doing accounting and tax and helping them with tax credits. And that's why we're really excited about helping them navigate ERC and making sure they do it the right way, so they can benefit from it.

Sam Yates:

The ladies and gentlemen when he says he is well adept at helping small businesses, this is not a one man band. I was quite impressed when I took a look at your website. You have a lot of employees specialized employees in many different areas.

Kash Sharfi, CEO, Advantage Accounting and Tax LLC:

Yeah, absolutely. We are an overall we're over 40 people. And we're headquartered in Boca Raton. But our clients are found in pretty much every county within the state. And traditionally, we can we help them with accounting, tax and value added services, audits and ERC and different credits as well. Our mission and our reason for existing is really to help small businesses. internally with our team, we have a combined over hundreds of years of experience in dealing with the IRS for Department of Revenue. We're really proud of our journey really proud of helping small businesses, and all our people are really rallying around that mission.

Sam Yates:

Now I have to say you're being a little modest to you mentioned all the Florida teams, but your expertise and your background, as I mentioned is impressive. UNC Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina, Harvard, those two complement those complement one another incredibly, but you're also with Ernst and Young for a number of years.

Kash Sharfi, CEO, Advantage Accounting and Tax LLC:

Yeah, absolutely. I've been in the industry ever since I graduated undergrad 30 years ago. And I was fortunate to spend a couple of years at Harvard and get my MBA and I learned a ton. The one thing that I think I took away the most valuable lesson is that there's no script in life. We live in a dynamic world and a dynamic country. Things are always changing and one needs to be ready to pivot and learn new things. The most important thing I learned about myself is boy Harvard was great, but that weather anytime it dropped under 30 or 40 or 50 degrees. I find myself inside all bundled up so I couldn't wait to get back to South Florida and start helping everybody in the Sunshine State.

Sam Yates:

I tell you what, remind me one day to tell you the story of how this Florida boy spent. Let's see four years in a row with the Iditarod sled dog race in Alaska. But talk about sunshine. I am so glad to be back in the Sunshine State for sure. Before I go any further Are you know I've set a good background for you. So I would really be not doing my job if I didn't ask right now, how can people get in touch with you and your company?

Kash Sharfi, CEO, Advantage Accounting and Tax LLC:

You're in our name is advantage county tax advantage CPA. So our website is very simple. It's www. Advantage dot CPA, we have a CPA moniker because we are a CPA firm. So advantage dot CPA and our phone number is 561-687-6466. Again, 561-687-6466 Advantage dot CPA. All right,

Sam Yates:

I'm going to come back to that because I know folks are going to be jotting down that information wanting to reach out to you. But let's do that switch to E RC. Is it real? I mean, can people can business owners get up to $26,000 per employee?

Kash Sharfi, CEO, Advantage Accounting and Tax LLC:

Yes, AM? Absolutely. And really, the key question now as we're sitting in September of 2023, is for all of us that are business owners, if we can go back in our minds to 2020. I know that as an owner, I certainly didn't see COVID coming, it was a complete surprise to us. And it was a surprise to most of our clients as well. Again, it was a unforeseen challenge that really hindered a lot of companies. So it's the congressional intent behind ERC is really simple. It's, it's exactly it's intended to do exactly what it sounds like. It's the employee retention credit. This is Congress's effort to reward companies, small companies that maintain payroll during the pandemic during 20, and 21. And to help them replenish their internal strengths, so they can contribute to their local economies going forward. That's really what it's all about. One quick stat is that since the beginning of 2020, in our nation, 4 million new jobs have been created by small companies, larger companies have been neutral, they have not added payroll. But so the growth engine of our economy really is small businesses, Congress realizes that they and they really want to buttress and support small business growth. So that's why they created the ERC. And it's a really it's a very real program. I know we're gonna get into some of the myths and things to look out for and ways that people can get tripped up. There are there is a lot of misconception and bad information that's out there. So you got to do it the right way. But it is very much a real program.

Sam Yates:

And I'm glad that you said that because that phrase, you've got to do it the right way. If that is that is something that relates directly back to your expertise, you're not some scammer calling from a prison somewhere trying to get your credit card information. You are real. Now, the money itself does it have to be repaid?

Kash Sharfi, CEO, Advantage Accounting and Tax LLC:

No. So there are several misconceptions that discourage people from applying for this. But in our message is really simple. And when we want people to walk away with is just really to two things. The first is, if for some reason you are told or you are led to believe or you've concluded that you don't qualify for ERC, it's worth another look, the law has been updated, and the Treasury Department continues to update its regulation. So there have been four updates. And as a as a firm that has 40 people, we've had the luxury of pouring our time and treasure into learning and becoming experts on this. A lot of people have been mistakenly concluding that they don't qualify. Even if you think you don't qualify, it's worth taking another look. And the second thing we say is if you are going to go forward, for God's sake, use a CPA firm you don't have to use don't use us use a trusted CPA firm, all CPA firms like doctors and lawyers, we have a license. And if we lose that license, we go out of business. So that really makes sure that we're going to do applications and our calculations and everything the right way to protect our clients and to protect ourselves. So it is not it is not alone. It does not have to be paid back what you do have to do it the right way. And so we really say you got to use a trusted adviser to go through the process.

Sam Yates:

And you know, ladies and gentlemen, I always listen for key things as I do interview is based on being a reporter for many years, but more importantly just being a businessman. And when someone tells me you need to do it this way, but you don't have to use us just make sure you do it this way and use these precautions good as gold that says that someone has the integrity whether you do business with them or not. They want to make sure that you don't get hurt. And I commend you for that because that is a rare commodity these days so good for you.

Kash Sharfi, CEO, Advantage Accounting and Tax LLC:

We know that we we do work for 1000s of small businesses. And we talk to the people that own these businesses. And we're not talking about large businesses with 1000s of employees. Our clients include restaurants with 10 employees or a dry cleaner with five. We also have chains and restaurants have 20 or 30 employees. And we know that these funds can really help small businesses. But as a small business owner, as Sam alluded to, every day, you're being bombarded with TV ads and radio ads, emails, and phone calls and texts, all kinds of things really claiming to help you get ERC. And there's some real bad information that's out there. We hear things along the lines of everybody qualifies, no matter what we hear. We hear people promising small businesses that you're gonna get half a million dollars in a week, no questions asked. The world just doesn't work like that. We also know that on national TV, Mr. Wonderful from the Shark Tank, he's involved in ERC. And we know what the sharks are circling, it means that there's there's blood in the water. And our job is to protect small business clients. And so not just us, but what any CPA firm would do is, we look at each application on a case by case basis to really understand how a business was impacted by the pandemic. And we use that information to craft a narrative of why your application and why your company does qualify for aarC. So that's really important, so you're protected. The second piece, and this is also something that's really important is that all CPA firms not just us, but pretty much any CPA firm. One of the things that we do on a day to day basis is deal with the IRS. Again, in our company, we've got hundreds of years of combined experience interacting with and representing clients before the IRS, a lot of the companies and they're really referred to us ERC Mills, these are these marketing agencies that are blasting the airwaves with all kinds of ads. They're here today, we don't know if they're going to be gone tomorrow or if they'll be around. But if and if and when an audit or review comes down CPA firms, that's what we do every day is we help our clients represent themselves in front of the IRS. So that's why it's in everyone's interest, again, to make sure that you're not leaving money on the table. But do it the right way and pick a trusted adviser pick a CPA firm because they got a license that they do not want to lose.

Sam Yates:

You know, I have to say that there are a lot of scams out there. And sometimes it is the business owner who is also doing the scam. And I I certainly am not going to name any particular business. But we're located just to the north of you on the Treasure Coast, Martin County, just across the border from Palm Beach County. And there is that there was a raid on a local business here with a score of federal agents carted the owner of the business off and the the undercurrent is that the business owner had claimed to own multiple companies 20 Plus that were not real companies and did not have real employees. And there were millions of dollars involved in ERC funds. And the the under the undercurrent is that the owner is going to be taken away to the crowbar hotel for a long time. But, you know, it is something serious that I would imagine as a CPA firm, you also check out the business to make sure they're telling you the truth.

Kash Sharfi, CEO, Advantage Accounting and Tax LLC:

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Because we want to protect our license and we want to protect clients that we have decades long relationships with. I'll share an example of something that happened in the last week that really kind of highlights what's going on in the industry. There's a small company, that small manufacturing company in Boynton Beach, they've got point beaches in Palm Beach County, it's this company has 25 employees. And they're busy like a lot of small businesses are so it takes them a while to get their payroll records. It takes them a while to pull the correct reports from their system. The provider that they were working with with the ERC, mill basically told them, Don't worry about sending us any records just give us a number over the phone and we'll make up the records. That's that's what we call fraud. That's why people go to the crowbar hotel that you refer to Sam, a legitimate providers CPA firm is not going to take somebody's word on it on its face. We need documents we need proof of this stuff. So we can actually file with a straight face. When we when we apply for ERC. We put our license goes on that application. So we're we're also signing up for this our integrity is online. So we not only get the detailed payroll records, the W twos, the W threes, different reports from people systems, but we also have we have a bunch of CPAs in our office that have become irsie experts and each one of these CPAs spends significant amount of time with each company, understanding how that company was impacted. We actually do more due diligence than is required, we get to a point where some of our businesses get frustrated and say, Why are you asking me all this? Why do I need all this stuff? And it's basically because our job is twofold. It's to help companies benefit financially. But it's to help keep companies safe as well. We'll never do anything and most CPAs will never do anything to jeopardize the company's integrity, or put them in harm's way where other players may not may not do that. So that's why it's important to get the details, right.

Sam Yates:

twofold question. The first part is, how long do companies have to apply for ERC? And the second part of that is, will the money run out?

Kash Sharfi, CEO, Advantage Accounting and Tax LLC:

Great questions. So first, in terms of timing, and this may change as the Treasury Department is always making modifications. But as of today, as of right now, the big kind of the ballpark that people need to remember is basically the end of 2024 is kind of by the time by that by the end of next calendar year, you really want to have applied before that that's when it kind of the statute runs out in terms of the money running out. This is a unique program, because it's associated with payroll, that it draws not only on stimulus funds, but it also draws on payroll funds that each company has been paying into. So the money won't run out, per se. But because our government is unpredictable, it really does behoove everybody to apply as soon as possible, the money won't run out, but you really do need to get your application in to maximize your probability of getting paid. And

Sam Yates:

that segues right into my next question, because as this program is being recorded, there looms on the horizon the potential of a government shutdown, would that government shutdown hinder halt or delay the ERC process?

Kash Sharfi, CEO, Advantage Accounting and Tax LLC:

It will, it will delay times it will delay processing times for ERC, just as it will delay times for everything do regardless of which agency in the government is interacting, that somebody happens to be interacting with whether you got to do something with the FDA, or the treasurer, whoever it is a shutdown is going to slow everything down. It won't be a control, delete, it'll just be a pause. And nothing will happen until Congress in their infinite wisdom figures out how to work together.

Sam Yates:

I love that I'm going to use that it won't be a Ctrl Alt Delete, guess what, I'm going to steal that phrase and use it because I love that phrase, it'll be a pause with our politician. So you know, I always want to get different perspectives. And you are in a rather unique position dealing with the small business communities. Some of the statistics that I've read recently said there's a large migration of rich people to Florida and that Florida already, I believe that the stats show 38 of the top 50 millionaire neighborhoods are located in Florida. Are you seeing that in, in your business sector of new business, new people coming into Florida wanting them to do business here?

Kash Sharfi, CEO, Advantage Accounting and Tax LLC:

Absolutely, absolutely. There has been the mass migration that we all know about from the northeast and other parts to our state, because our state is so amazing. It's such a great place to be. We're seeing a ton of two things. We're seeing new business formation. And we're also seeing expansion of existing businesses. And we tend to focus on the latter, where we work with small businesses, but we are seeing people add employees, we're seeing people add locations, we're seeing people add new lines of service, and it's really exciting. Really, the number one challenge that we hear from our clients is finding good staff. It's finding people to come in and work. I'll give you an example. We have been doing work for a small painting company for over 15 years. The owner is a young guy, he's in his early 40s him his wife are awesome people. They do a niche painting industry where they do painting of basically mansions on the island of Palm Beach. And we met with the owner two weeks ago and he's awesome guy. He basically said, these millionaires and billionaires are moving down from New York, and they are basically price insensitive as his to his services. We all know that before the pandemic, if somebody was hiring a painting company, they're gonna price out three or four different vendors, they're gonna try and beat you down on the price bring all this stuff. Now he says they're basically tell him name a price and just get in and start helping us. But that is an extreme case when you can just make up the price they're gonna pay it. But I think the the anecdote is that there's a lot of vibrancy and a lot of growth here in South Florida. Small businesses are being formed every day and existing businesses are expanding, which is again, it's great. It's going to help it's going to help for to continue growing and been a great destination for people in the decades to come.

Sam Yates:

I love hearing that I'm, I wear many hats. In addition to this program and other things that I do, I'm on the board of directors for the Gold Coast Builders Association, which is headquartered in Palm Beach County serving Palm Beach and northern Broward County up into the Treasure Coast. So we regularly monitor what is going on in the building and associated trades industries. So what you're saying, ladies and gentlemen, I have to say is absolutely on track with what we, as members of the Gold Coast Builders Association are seeing. If you are interested in getting into a business, I would recommend folks contact you right away because you have to start a business the correct way, not the incorrect way and the help of a CPA as you can't do it without a CPA.

Kash Sharfi, CEO, Advantage Accounting and Tax LLC:

Yes. And also, you know, that's a really important point. Another thing that, in addition to COVID that we're really living through is the advent of technology and big data. That's another really underreported story. And basically what it means for small business owners is that if you if you went back in your mind, 10 years ago, our government at that point, our federal government was pretty inefficient. The Treasury Department systems that didn't talk to Social Security, and nobody connected with the Florida Department of Revenue, those days, if not over, they're going to be over soon, where all the government databases are interconnected. So people playing fast and loose, which they couldn't do in the past. That is no longer the case, or our government at every level, is has more has more resources at their disposal, but they're also increasingly desperate for money as our spending at a federal level continues to grow. So the government is going to be aggressive coming after people and they've got data that they didn't have before, which makes it all the more important that you got to do things the right way, which is exactly what Sam said. And I think this is an important point for ERC. Also, because there's a lot of business owners that have a lot of integrity, they're ethical people. And for some reason, they have concluded that they don't, they don't qualify for ERC. They've heard a lot of myths that if I got PPP, I can't get ERC, or it's a loan. Or if my government my company didn't shut down, therefore I don't qualify. All those are patently not true. Some people also think that if you didn't have a revenue drop, you don't qualify. Again, that is patently not true. A company could have increased its revenues from 19 to 20, to 21. But they can still qualify for it based on the different rules and regulations that have been promulgated by the Treasury Department. We also find cases where CPAs have told their clients that they don't qualify, and their CPAs are right at the beginning of the pandemic. But so many updates have been made that people that initiative qualified do qualify. So we encourage people to do it the right way. But we really want small businesses small business sector not to leave money on the table, because we know that if a small business gets $100, they're going to put that to use and have a multiplier effect and really add to the local economy. That's what Congress wants. They want to give this money that to small businesses that qualify for it, because they know it's in the best interest of our nation. And we're just excited to do our small part of that helps small businesses succeed.

Sam Yates:

And it shows anything that we haven't talked about that you want to make sure we get in before we begin to wrap up our program today.

Kash Sharfi, CEO, Advantage Accounting and Tax LLC:

If we've covered a lot, and again, I'll just say there's two bullet points that I want everyone to walk away with. And they're real simple. Even if I think I don't qualify, I may qualify. And second, if I'm going to talk to somebody by God, let me talk to a CPA firm or a law firm that has a license and has a lot at risk just like I do.

Sam Yates:

And then I have one final question. That is my most important question. Will you come back for another episode in the future? Sam, I'll

Kash Sharfi, CEO, Advantage Accounting and Tax LLC:

go wherever you told me to.

Sam Yates:

Absolutely a perfect answer he passes. Ladies and gentlemen, cash Sharpie. It has been my pleasure to have you on the program today. One more time, how many people reach out and get in touch with you?

Kash Sharfi, CEO, Advantage Accounting and Tax LLC:

www dot advantage dot CPA 561-687-6466 Advantage dot CPA 56168764 6x

Sam Yates:

Advantage accounting and tax CPA and advisors. Thank you for being here today.

Kash Sharfi, CEO, Advantage Accounting and Tax LLC:

Thank you, Sam.

Sam Yates:

And that's going to wrap up yet another informative episode of the Florida Business Forum Podcast and we are the only business forum podcasts of its kind in Florida we take a lot of pride in that we're dedicated to filling in the gaps the news gap that quite honestly is left out there as the various publications and other media shrinks or looks at another erection of what's the biggest highlight of the day? Well, you know what, we've got our segment two and it's business news and information. So, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us today. I'm Sam Yates Have a great day everybody. The Florida Business Forum is dedicated to showcasing Florida businesses and CEOs of all sorts to promote their business or not for profit in the only business forum of its type in Florida. Thanks for tuning in. And remember, have a great day everyone, and stay tuned for more business