In recent months, companies have increasingly turned to Aprio, one of Atlanta’s top accounting and business advisory firms, to help navigate changing tax laws and keep up with trends in such specialty areas as outsourcing and data analytics.
Not surprising, then, that those are some of the newest specialty practices for the company with more than 450 employees, named the fifth largest accounting firm by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Aprio’s founders and many of its team members have a long history of involvement in our Jewish community.
Mitchell Kopelman, partner-in-charge of Aprio’s tax, technology and blockchain practice, explained the impact of some of the new tax laws and how Aprio is advising its clients and their businesses.
Most relevant to the Jewish community may be changes in tax law that affect charitable giving and paying for day school education with tax-free dollars.
“People might change the way they want to give tzedakah,” Kopelman said. The change in itemized deductions might impact their future giving. Aprio advises some clients to “bunch” their charitable contributions, making donations in one year to a donor-advised fund and then using the DAF to give to a specific organization over multiple years.
In terms of paying for day school, parents can take advantage of new tax benefits to use a 529 tax-free savings plan, typically reserved for college expenses, to cover private education under the new federal tax law. Under a state law passed 10 years ago, Aprio encourages many of its clients to support the ALEF Fund, which allows taxpayers to redirect state tax dollars to provide scholarships for children to attend Jewish preschools and day schools.
Kopelman said clients are taking advantage of new federal tax legislation that allows them to invest in Opportunity Zones, which are located in low-income communities, to benefit from favorable tax incentives. The investors save on capital gains taxes if they are willing to take the risk on the economically-depressed areas and tie up their investment for five years or more, Aprio reported on its blog.
New tax laws are also making it conducive for apartment dwellers to stay in their units longer, which is good news for owners of multi-family developments, Kopelman said.
R&D Tax Credits
Georgia has one of the best research and development tax credits in the country, Kopelman said. “It has drawn a lot of technology [and manufacturing] companies. It’s wonderful.”
Aprio has had an R&D credit practice to handle federal and state credits, which the firm started 10 years ago. “It is our fastest-growing service line at the firm,” said Kopelman.
This year, Aprio launched an international R&D credit practice in the United Kingdom with plans to expand to a few more countries next year.
“We follow our clients and support them wherever they are in the world. We have a strong international practice to help them.”
In June, Aprio continued a 2018 buying spree by acquiring HPC, a cloud-based accounting firm. The acquisition allows Aprio to provide outsourcing with employees in 16 states, Kopelman said. “The acquisition of HPC, with its strong technology processes and experienced cloud team, will allow Aprio to eliminate time-consuming data entry,” according to an Aprio release.
Merging with a company focused on the cloud allowed Aprio to build a cloud practice and keep up with a trend of companies outsourcing areas such as finance and human resources to the cloud, Kopelman said. “We want to stay current with our clients’ needs.”
A Supreme Court ruling in June requires many online and offline companies that sell goods or license software to collect state and local sales taxes after previously being exempt. For that reason, Aprio created a new practice area to help clients efficiently file the proper forms all over the country and change their business practices. “Our practice has been very busy.”
Aprio recently added a new partner who specializes in data analytics to help clients “digest” data. Companies have a lot of data and don’t know what to do with it, Kopelman said. Aprio helps clients address the management and use of data so they can make better business decisions, he said.
Interest rates have increased a lot in the last two years, he said. The rise in interest expenses is not helpful to industries such as real estate and heavy manufacturing, which tend to have more debt. The new limitations on interest deductions can also affect a business’ borrowing strategies.
As with any of the changes in tax laws or other money matters, Kopelman said, a wealth advisor can help clients take advantage of savings or better manage their business by offering an integrated approach to financial planning.