Is the U.S. Tax Code Racist?

In this episode, we're talking about how tax policy impacts social policy, how the U.S. PwC chief details "plan" to combat racism — is it just more talk? Also, after 50 years, there's still little progress for Black accountants. What should we make of the jobs report? CPA execs have a bleaker outlook thanks to coronavirus. In other news, Zoom crushes quarterly earnings estimates but Microsoft has taken notice, PPP forgiveness rules are eased by Congress, and which banking groups are calling for PPP forgiveness. We'll also touch on three ways to get the most out of Microsoft Teams, how Xero delays price increases and releases new business and cash flow dashboards, and more!

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Blake Oliver: [00:00:28] Back in 2017, not that long ago, the AICPA did a demographic trends report, finding that nine percent of students enrolling into accounting bachelor's programs are Black. That's less than the population, which is 13 percent. So, we're already low there. But then, as they move through the funnel, you go from nine percent of students in accounting bachelor programs are Black, only four percent of new hires by firms, by CPA firms, are Black. Then, of CPAs in accounting firms, only one percent are Black. So, I don't have details about PwC, but I'm thinking, how many partners at PwC are Black, do you think ...?
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Blake Oliver: [00:03:10] Welcome to The Cloud Accounting Podcast. I'm Blake Oliver.
 
David Leary: [00:03:13] And I'm David Leary. Blake, another week ... 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:03:15] Here we are, and you're back in your closet.
 
David Leary: [00:03:19] I went back to the closet. The kids are officially on summer vacation. They don't even have fake school at this point. I might not come out of the closet for eight weeks, until school starts. In Arizona, particularly, it's tough. Obviously, there's the curfew going on.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:03:33] Yeah, we've been in a week-long statewide curfew for one week. 
 
David Leary: [00:03:37] Which is tricky in the state of Arizona because it's so hot during the summer that you really can't do anything until 7:00 p.m. at night-
 
Blake Oliver: [00:03:44] At the earliest ... At the earliest.
 
David Leary: [00:03:45] Then everything's closed, so it's just been ... Everybody's going a little extra stir crazy. We're pushing on what? Day 120 of COVID?
 
Blake Oliver: [00:03:52] Yep. 
 
David Leary: [00:03:52] Staying at home ... It's just, with three teenagers, they're just starting to go crazy, and I'm starting to go crazy, so ... 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:03:59] Yeah, and as you mentioned last week, it's challenging to do this show when so much the country seems focused on all of these racial issues - Black Lives Matter, the protests that are happening a few blocks away, downtown in Phoenix. I'm just north of downtown. I can hear the helicopters, and the flash bangs. The mall I went to in the morning got looted that night ... It's hard to want to just do a show about accounting and technology, when you feel like this is not relevant. But I have some data that I wanted to share and some stories, actually, that relate to racial diversity in the accounting profession. So, I think it's worth starting the show talking a little bit about that and then jumping into our regular material.
 
David Leary: [00:04:47] Yeah, absolutely. Because last week, I made a comment about how tax policy dictates social policy.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:04:52] Yes. 
 
David Leary: [00:04:52] I've tweeted about that because I think, ultimately, us - as a profession - that's an impact we could have. Yes, we can have an impact on who we hire, and promote, and who becomes partners at big firms, et cetera, but, ultimately, if we see tax policy that's not equitable, socially speaking- 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:05:08] Right. 
 
David Leary: [00:05:08] -we should probably ... We have the skills, and the systems in place, in theory, to fight against that, right? 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:05:16] We're the profession that actually understands the tax code and how it changes behavior, so we can influence politicians. The AICPA, for instance, has been very strong in lobbying about PPP, and that is a program that has massive social implications. 
 
David Leary: [00:05:35] Yeah. I tweeted out a couple of things, but I did get some listener feedback. Somebody did send me a direct message on Twitter. He said, "Would love to hear your thoughts on why the tax system is racist on the next podcast. I saw the tweets. I'm curious to hear from that point of view. Never thought of the tax system that way. Great podcast." So, I think that's where you and I can jump in on this a little bit. I'm far from an expert on ... I'm not an expert on racism. I'm not an expert on tax code, either, but I am intelligent, and I can definitely see how A connects to B, and we can talk about some of those things.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:06:11] Well, I have one example that I'm aware of.
 
David Leary: [00:06:15] Yeah? 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:06:15] The mortgage interest deduction ... It basically lowers the taxes of folks who own homes. I'm buying a home. I'm in escrow, right now, and I'm looking forward to having that deduction again. If you're a renter, you may pay the same amount for your housing, but you don't get a deduction, so you end up paying more in taxes. That's just one example. The way it impacts race is that - from a race standpoint - if one group of people is more likely to own homes and the other is not, then that has social implications there. It allows one group to build wealth and the other can't, as easily. So, there's one example, and I'm sure there's lots and lots of those.
 
David Leary: [00:06:57] Somebody broke down the racial disparities of just the 1040. It came out January 30. Essentially what they did is they took the Form 1040, Blake, and they went line by line, and broke it down, and explained how that line- what the racial disparities are in that line of the tax form; then the next line of the tax form, and the next line of tax form.
 
[00:07:16] For example, there's the American Opportunity Tax Credit. That's that lifetime learning credit you can apply to college. Middle- to upper-class families are likely to benefit from this, but a lot of middle- to upper-class families are less likely to be people of color. Then, students of color are more likely to receive other grants. The average person of color or a minority is not receiving this tax credit.
 
[00:07:39] Then, overall, over time, there's no proof that these tax credits actually have shown, or these subsidies have shown any increase in people of minorities getting college degrees. They're not helping. Essentially, it's a tax credit that exists, but minorities don't get really any benefit from this tax credit. Over, and over again, there's lots of examples of that. There's another article I saw, where the amount of deduction you can take for a disaster is capped at 10 percent of your income. If you think about the- 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:08:12] Oh, yeah, that makes sense. If you have more income, you can take more of a deduction for the disaster.
 
David Leary: [00:08:19] But the impact of the disaster- if you're struggling to make $30,000 a year, and a tree falls on your car, and breaks the roof of your house, or whatever it is, the impact of that might be half of your income to get things back on track, but you only get to claim 10 percent. So, there's just illustration after illustration after illustration of this that exists in the tax code. If you just step back and look at it that way, you can really see it.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:08:44] I think it's important to say that this is not intentional, most of the time; it's systemic. But we need to recognize it and maybe do something about it. I have some stats about police brutality. Now, I know that's not the tax code; that's not accounting. But we are accountants, and we like to quantify things. This really helped me get my mind around the situation.
 
[00:09:07] This was something that my father, who is in his early 70s, shared with me from Reddit. It's a subreddit called Data is Beautiful (r/dataisbeautiful). The users on this subreddit submit original graphs and charts using real data. Then people upvote them or downvote them in. This one rose to the top. It's called, "People Killed by Police Forces - Annual Rate per 10 Million People." 
 
[00:09:30] The author of this chart looked at a police shooting database from 2019, compared it to U.S. Census Bureau data on demographics, and then, also, killings by law enforcement officers by country and put that all together, and found that the rate, the annual rate per 10 million people in the United States for police killings is 28. So, 28 people are killed by the police for every 10 million people living in this country, which, if you extrapolate to the total population, comes out to around a thousand people a year.
 
[00:10:07] Now, where do we stand against the rest of the world? Well, we come in between Bangladesh, and Mexico, 28, and 30, respectively. You have to go way, way up the chart to find countries that we might think of as sort of similar - the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia. The United Kingdom, where police are not armed, most of the time, has a rate of 0.5 versus 28. 
 
[00:10:37] Now, what if you are Black? Because that rate for the USA is overall, right? If you are Black, it is 57; so we're talking double. If you are White, it is 19. So, we have an average of 28 - for White Americans, it's 19, and for Black Americans, it's 57. If you look at other charts that show the discrepancy in terms of if you're White, or if you're Black, and you're unarmed, and you're shot by the police, it's just dramatically greater.
 
[00:11:05] So, I think people should just take that data for what it is. If you're Black in the United States, you have a similar chance of being killed by the police as the population in Burundi; in Burkina Faso; in Congo. It's worse than if you are an Iraqi, in Iraq, or in Nigeria, or Kenya. That is what it is, right? 
 
[00:11:28] If you're a Democrat, you might not like something I heard on NPR about this, when it comes to police unions and civilian deaths. So I was listening to Planet Money, that podcast that you and I both love. I don't know if you saw this episode, or heard this episode- it's called, "Police Unions and Civilian Deaths." 
 
[00:11:43] They interview an economist, Rob Gillezeau. He studies the history of police killings and protests. He's got a paper that is coming out all about how do police unions and unionization of police departments affect the killing of minority groups? His study finds - it's based on data from 1950 to 1980, when a lot of this unionization occurred - that after police officers gained access to collective bargaining rights, there was a substantial increase in the killings of civilians - and overwhelmingly, non-White civilians.
 
[00:12:16] This is not necessarily an issue that is one side or the other - Democrat or Republican - because Democratic politicians overwhelmingly support unions, but unions could, in this case, be part of the problem because they protect police officers from having to take responsibility when they do kill people. I find that fascinating.
 
David Leary: [00:12:41] You actually brought up a fact, like is any of this purposeful, these tax policies? I found an article that goes into the history of some of these tax policies and, arguably, yes, it's purposeful. There used to be ... A lot of the states had a slave tax; you'd pay taxes on the number of slaves you owned and because of that, you would pay much lower property taxes. In the state of Alabama, this basically meant White landowners paid no property taxes-
 
Blake Oliver: [00:13:06] For their land because they paid it on people. 
 
David Leary: [00:13:07] On people. That just allowed them to continue to accrue and transfer wealth from generation to generation. Then, after emancipation efforts, they really tried to increase property taxes because they obviously were losing revenue because there were no longer taxes on slaves, right? But, they ultimately- the Alabama lawmakers ultimately chose to just 'caps in' on the property tax ... That still stands to this day. Instead, just do sales and excise taxes. This stuff was done very purposely, historically.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:13:41] Right, and sales taxes are highly aggressive. So, there is a tie-in to all of this, to the accounting profession, and the Big Four, because Tim Ryan, the chair of PwC in the United States, went on CNBC and detailed his firm's plans to combat racism. He said that, "Employees are angry. They're upset, they're exhausted, and they want action. They want a heck of a lot more than just saying, "We condemn the killing of George Floyd or many others," he added. So, do you wanna hear what PwC is gonna do? 
 
David Leary: [00:14:12] Yeah, what's their plan?
 
Blake Oliver: [00:14:14] Their plan includes one week of paid time for its 55,000 employees, each year, to volunteer at nonprofits; a two-year fellowship program for some employees to work on policy issues that combat racial injustice and discrimination; and donations to four social justice organizations. The company will also match employee contributions up to $1,000. They're also creating a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee consisting of employees across all levels of the company that will help build out its larger plan to address racial inequality. So, what do you think about that, David?
 
David Leary: [00:14:50] So, is this just talk, or is this a real plan?
 
Blake Oliver: [00:14:54] Exactly. Exactly, right? I'm reading this, and I'm thinking to myself, wait a minute ... This is what the accounting profession has been doing when it comes to diversity for 50 years. They're really good at talking about it, especially the Big Four, by the way. They're really good at talking about how they are so diverse and everything. But then, you look at the actual numbers and diversity is terrible at accounting firms, but especially at the large accounting firms. We're still having conversations in accounting about how do we get more women partners? The percentage of women who are partners at the Big Four? It's less than 20 percent. Do you wanna know what the percentage of Black people in these accounting firms is?
 
David Leary: [00:15:35]  think we've talked about this before. It's completely non-
 
Blake Oliver: [00:15:38] Back in 2017, not that long ago, the AICPA did a demographic trends report finding that nine percent of students enrolling into accounting bachelor's programs are Black. That's less than the population, which is 13 percent. So, we're already low there. But then, as they move through the funnel, you go from nine percent of students in accounting bachelor programs are Black. Only four percent of new hires by firms, by CPA firms are Black. Then, of CPAs in accounting firms, only one percent are Black.
 
[00:16:10] So, I don't have details about PwC, but I'm thinking how many partners at PwC are Black do you think? What percentage? If one percent of CPAs in all CPA firms are Black, it can't be more than that at PwC in the partnerships, if they can't even get to 50-percent women, and that hasn't budged in years and years. So, here we have Tim Ryan talking about all this stuff, and creating a committee, and all that, but it doesn't actually ever change anything. They've had these committees forever, right? Something else has to change to create more diversity. It's like, we're really good at talking about it; we're not really good at actually doing anything about it.
 
David Leary: [00:16:49] There's an article in Accounting Today about how the accounting profession is responding to the George Floyd killing and anti-racism protests. Basically, the big firms, and the state CPA societies are all releasing statements, but all statements kind of ... Did you read the article? They all kind of sound the same. It's that same tone - "We're deeply affected ... Our membership represents X number of members, and they come from many races, cultures, creeds, and ethnicities. We denounce all forms of racism ..." It all feels very stamped.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:17:26] Yeah. 
 
David Leary: [00:17:26] It's like, "What's the perfect statement we can release right now in regards to this?"
 
Blake Oliver: [00:17:32] Yeah, it's just talk, right? Of the 650,000 CPAs in the U.S., an estimated 5,000 are Black, according to the National Association of Black Accountants.
 
David Leary: [00:17:42] I'd much rather see a commitment to we are going to lobby against racist tax policies.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:17:49] Well, you know, here's a good one. I saw this on Tim Ryan's post. He originally put all this stuff up on LinkedIn as a post. You go through the comments and, of course, it's like a zillion PwC employees sucking up to him. But there was one person in there who said, "You know what? This is great. Mr. Ryan ..." I'm paraphrasing. "I am curious to know what percentage of your executive committee is diverse, nonwhite males? Perhaps you should fix the breakdown of diversity on your executive committee and make that more diverse, first, and then it will trickle down; because what you see at the top of the organization is what you get in the middle and at the bottom of the organization." I think that would be a great place to start. 
 
David Leary: [00:18:34] Yeah, because managers are just gonna mimic and promote whatever they have to do to get themselves promoted to the spot they wanna be in. 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:18:41] Exactly. They mirror what you do, not what you say, right? I just think it's just so wrong, actually, that he went on TV and did this without actually having a real plan to address it. I don't know how many emails you've gotten recently, David, from companies saying, "We support Black Lives Matter. We stand with them," and all this stuff. But you wonder, okay, is this just talk, or are they actually doing anything about it? You found a great article about how you actually look at the SEC filings of a lot of public companies, and they're donating money to politicians who voted against the NAACP, like 90 percent of the time.
 
David Leary: [00:19:21] Yeah. The NAACP does a grading of politicians, like an A through an F grading.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:19:27] Yeah.
 
David Leary: [00:19:28] A lot of these companies that are putting a post out there, that's great - they've done their obligatory Black Lives Matter tweet, right? 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:19:36] Yeah. 
 
David Leary: [00:19:37] Basically, they went and compared this to their grade by the NAACP, and basically, these senators that they're donating money to are getting Fs. So, it's like, great, you have the lip service on this side, on the social media side, but on the other side, you're not really putting your money- or your actions are not matching what your forward-facing persona is.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:19:59] To me, the thing that's most upsetting about this is the hypocrisy, not necessarily any specific policy recommendation or change. It's like the fact that people are just talking about this and then not really doing anything about it. If you're not gonna do anything about it, don't talk about it. Then, if you are gonna talk about it, don't do something else behind the scenes that is totally contradictory to what you're saying.
 
David Leary: [00:20:23] Yeah. Some of the ones that were specific about this ... Citi. Huge, right? Citigroup-
 
Blake Oliver: [00:20:29] Yep, the bank; the big bank. 
 
David Leary: [00:20:29] The bank. Their CFO tweeted out about how much they cherish diversity, et cetera. But then, if you look into it, they donate to a bunch of senators and political people that have Fs, when it comes to their scores for diversity and supporting diversity, in the tune of $180,000 they've donated. Then, some of the others ... They called out Google; they called out Amazon. You just can't say you wanna do things better. You have to really work hard to change the system.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:20:59] So, should we talk about the economy now?
 
David Leary: [00:21:02] Yeah, the only thing I was gonna- that ties in between these two ... Actually, this is a transition story.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:21:07] Okay. 
 
David Leary: [00:21:07] Have you heard about the payroll tax holiday bubbling up more now?
 
Blake Oliver: [00:21:11] Yeah. Well, this was something that President Trump floated at the very beginning of this crisis was give everyone a break from payroll taxes until the end of the year.
 
David Leary: [00:21:20] Yeah, and now it feels like it's not just payroll taxes. It's like all small businesses might not have taxes. It's very gray of what this is, but I do feel like it's a transition from this tax policy and diversity thing to the economy, so this'd be a good transition story.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:21:36] Yeah. 
 
David Leary: [00:21:36] Ultimately, I think there's two points of view here. I think there's one point of view of keep giving people money, even if they're staying at home. So, extend out that $600-a-month unemployment. Then, there's a set of people that are like, "Oh, no, give them a bonus if they go back to work." In my opinion, that bonus for going back to work is totally one of these social racist policies, because most people right now that are unemployed that don't have an option to go get a job and go back to work are people of minorities?
 
Blake Oliver: [00:22:06] Mm-hmm. 
 
David Leary: [00:22:06] They would not get that extra money. It's not like they're choosing not to go back to work. It's just this transitions right into the stimulation of the economy, right? How do we do that and not keep doing these policies that impact us socially?
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Blake Oliver: [00:23:39] Let's talk about the jobs report and the PPP, because you and I have been really down on the Paycheck Protection Program; I think, legitimately criticizing the program. 
 
David Leary: [00:23:50] Well, it didn't get better until we started criticizing it. Let's just be very clear- 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:23:54] Yeah, there we go. 
 
David Leary: [00:23:54] Until the criticism came, it did not get better.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:23:59] So, Congress, on Wednesday - the Senate - passed the House's bill, changing the PPP forgiveness rules in a very, very positive way. President Trump signed it on Friday. Here are the changes. Current PPP borrowers can now extend their forgiveness period from eight weeks to 24 weeks. That's a big change that will help a lot of people qualify for forgiveness. Covered period can't extend beyond the end of this year, and now, the payroll-expenditure requirement drops from 75 percent to 60 percent.
 
[00:24:33] But here's the ... They didn't get this quite right. Here's the problem. In the bill, the way it's written, the 60 percent is now a cliff. So, if you don't spend 60 percent of the money on payroll, you don't get any forgiveness, which they didn't intend to do. Representative Chip Roy of Texas, who co-sponsored the bill in the House, said in a House speech that the bill intended the sliding scale to remain in effect at 60 percent. Senators Marco Rubio and Susan Collins indicated that technical tweaks could be made to the bill to restore the sliding scale.
 
David Leary: [00:25:04] So, it was like a typo; like somebody just messed up.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:25:06] Yeah, they just ... It's complicated. This is the problem with this whole thing - it's just way too complicated. A lot of folks are out there saying, "Guys, just get rid of it entirely. Don't just even ... Don't make it easier."
 
David Leary: [00:25:18] Well, yeah. We'll jump into that, the just get rid of it, the [crosstalk] 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:25:22] All these requirements, yeah. 
 
David Leary: [00:25:22] Let's talk more about the stats of this. 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:25:22] Well, yeah, here's the rest of it. Now, you can take 24 weeks instead of eight to restore your workforce levels and wages to the pre-pandemic levels required for full forgiveness. This has to be done by December 31, instead of June 30. There are now exceptions for borrowers to achieve full forgiveness, even if they don't fully restore their workforce. So, if you can prove that you tried to get your employees come back to work and they didn't want to, then you don't have to count them in your FTE calculations. Then, new borrowers get five years to repay the loan, instead of two. If you already have a loan, though, it's not automatically extended to five years. You have to renegotiate with the bank, which is kind of annoying for folks who went out-
 
David Leary: [00:26:08] Essentially, it's signing a new loan.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:26:10] Yeah, it's just ... The interest rate is still one percent. Then, businesses that took the PPP loans can also delay payment of their payroll taxes, which was previously prohibited under the CARES Act; you had to choose one or the other. Now, you can do both. That's all the changes. But again, a lot of people are saying, and I think you, and I kind of agree on this, that it would be better for the economy, and it would incentivize more people to take advantage of the money that is still left over, which is like, $100 billion in the program that hasn't been taken, if they just got rid of these requirements, and let it be a grant, and don't even make it loans. 
 
David Leary: [00:26:48] It's just it's wasting everybody's time, this dance. The Consumer Bankers Association, and the Bank Policy Institute, they've actually created a cosigned letter calling on Congress to just automatically forgive all Paycheck Protection Program loans under $150,000. 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:27:04] Yeah. 
 
David Leary: [00:27:04] The stats on this were pretty interesting in the way they had this logic ... Obviously, they're solving for the banks' interest, but the banks don't want anything to do with this. They do not wanna be futzing with all these teeny little loans, and tracking them, and filling out paperwork.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:27:18] Yeah, yeah. 
 
David Leary: [00:27:18] So, they're solving for their own interest, but they did provide a study that was pretty interesting. Overall, in summary, they basically- that $150,000 mark would cover 85 percent of the loans, but only 26 percent of the loan dollars.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:27:32] Right. 
 
David Leary: [00:27:32] So, it feels like a risk/reward. It makes sense. Just cancel the whole thing, right? You'd still have to verify that it was used for payroll at some level, but- 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:27:42] That's easier to do than to have to do all these complex calculations.
 
David Leary: [00:27:45] The loan forgiveness application, right? 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:27:47] Yeah. 
 
David Leary: [00:27:47] They basically think that ... If they get rid of this, it's gonna save small business owners almost $7 billion, and it's just paperwork- 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:27:53] Right. It's money they would have to pay to accountants, like me, to do this for them because most small business owners can't do this. This is a hard application. I've looked at it, and I'm so glad that I don't have to do this because I use a payroll service that has been doing a great job with their forgiveness calculations reports that you can just generate automatically if you are running payroll on their system. I just press a button, and it generates the report for me. Think about all the small business owners that aren't using something like that.
 
David Leary: [00:28:21] I did some similar with OnPay. A research firm, AQN Strategies, found that combined - the resources you need to apply for the loan and then apply for loan forgiveness - the amount of resources you, as a business owner, are putting into this is between $2,000 to $4,000 per small business, by the time you pay the third-party costs, and other costs. 
 
[00:28:40] Not only that, you might be spending 20 to 100 hours of your time to get this done, so it really, really adds up. It's an interesting take because they presented an argument that's not just about what's gonna impact the banks, but really, the impact of this on small businesses. Then, even Gene Marks, did you see he jumped on the bandwagon and wrote an op-ed for The Hill? 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:29:03] Yeah, yeah. He wants forgive it all. 
 
David Leary: [00:29:06] Yeah, and his argument is kind of like, essentially, at this point, if it's five years at one percent, it's a grant program. Just call it that. Forgive the debt and just move on, like we were saying last week about this a little bit. I think that you just said Rubio ,and I forgot the other senator you said-
 
Blake Oliver: [00:29:24] Collins.
 
David Leary: [00:29:25] Are they gonna propose new changes again?
 
Blake Oliver: [00:29:28] Yeah. They wanna tweak it a little more- 
 
David Leary: [00:29:30] And extend the confusion. It's just like wash your hands of it, at this point, and be done with it. I actually think it's gonna happen.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:29:38] Well, for all the confusion, there has been a lot of good from the PPP program because we got our jobs report out for May. Amazingly - nobody predicted this - we had job growth in May. 2.5 million jobs were created. I don't know why I need to say this because I think everyone who pays any attention to business news has heard this by now. So, apologies, listeners, if this is redundant. We had 1.4 million jobs lost in March; 21 million jobs lost in April; then, we actually had job growth in May. So, we've stopped the bleeding, and I think the PPP owes some credit for that.
 
[00:30:22] There was a great story in The New York Times called, "What to Make of the Rebound in the U.S. Jobs Report?" Business owner, Chris Elliott, the chief executive of Beef O'Brady's, a Florida-based chain of more than 150 sports bars, talked about how his business was down 62 percent in April, when its dining rooms were closed nationwide, and it's only business came from takeout, but only a handful of the chain's restaurants have closed permanently, in part because nearly all of its franchisees received Paycheck Protection Program loans. "The damage would have been much greater without PPP, I can tell you that," says Chris Elliott. So, half of the jobs gains in May - 1.4 million - were in restaurants and bars, many which received assistance under the PPP. So, that's a success.
 
[00:31:08] People are questioning, where's all the business bankruptcies? You're right, something kept a lot of small business restaurants from going under. It could be these PPP funds [inaudible] just to keep the door open. A lot of them pivoted to delivery type services. Now that states are starting to open up, if the restaurants are gonna open back up, they're gonna have to bring back one or two employees. So, it explains kind of the growth and how this is tied together. Far from perfect, but ... 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:31:33] A lot of the bankruptcies were anticipated to happen because businesses wouldn't be able to pay their rent, but a lot of businesses have successfully worked with their landlords to reduce or delay rent. The landlords have been able to work with the banks to reduce or delay their mortgage payments, or refinance, or add the payments on to the end of the term. That's because the banks are getting, essentially, financing from the federal government, because Chairman Powell of the Fed worked very, very quickly to get massive amounts of money out to create liquidity into our banking system.
 
[00:32:10] That has worked really well, and like you said, there haven't been a lot of bankruptcies. We will see what happens, though, long term, because as we've talked about, coronavirus is not gonna be a short-term economic hit. It's gonna be a long-term hit. Accounting Today had a survey from the AICPA of almost 1,200 CEOs, CFOs, controllers, and other CPAs across U.S. companies. Only 20 percent of the respondents are optimistic about the U.S. economy's overall outlook over the next 12 months.
 
[00:32:39] That's down from 61 percent in the first quarter, when we didn't have any concerns really about COVID-19. So, it's gonna take a while to get back to normal. The question's gonna be: how long will this stimulus last? Because PPP, even though it's extended now, a lot of people have been using the money over the last two months as if it wasn't. So, that money is gonna start running out this month, and are they gonna lay people off? 
 
David Leary: [00:33:02] Yeah, all those people who got that first wave, the PPP v.1 ... It's been eight weeks.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:33:09] If there's not more stimulus - which the Republicans in the Senate- Mitch McConnell has not expressed a lot of enthusiasm about doing more stimulus - will we see job losses? Will we see business closures, and bankruptcies? It's just a question as to how quickly can the actual economy recover without stimulus? Nobody really knows the answer to that.
 
David Leary: [00:33:31] There's an article in Insightful Accountant about how small business accounting and finance teams are responding to COVID. The real big takeaway here is ... This was a survey done by Sage Intacct. They just surveyed nearly 400 finance and accounting professionals. So, you're looking at, this is gonna be large-, or mid-sized businesses. Basically, really just their accounting teams are being asked by their boards to really dig into the deep part of the books to cut costs.
 
[00:33:56] What can be cut? 75 percent of that is their work- what they need to cut - and then, revise the revenue projections, and then, focus on budget planning for the future. I think this is something that you could take down to your smaller clients. Those are probably the things you need to be working on with your smaller clients, right now - reducing costs, figuring out the revenue projections, and that cash flow, and then, focus on planning for the future. 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:34:16] Even just creating a budget. A lot of businesses in economic prosperity don't even budget because they don't need to because their business models are working, but now is the time to do it, and create those cash flow projections, and offer the services in a productized way; actually create a deliverable, like, "We are gonna give you a short-term cash flow forecast every week and a long-term business forecast- 12-month forecast that we update every month," and make that part of your CFO package. Businesses will pay for that to have the certainty and know that somebody is looking out.
 
David Leary: [00:34:55] I still think you can value price this. 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:34:56] Yeah. 
 
David Leary: [00:34:56] Like, "Hey, 18 months from now, if you're doing better, now, you can pay me, at that point, and you're gonna pay me nicely," if you've helped them get through these waters ... Assuming they don't get hacked. Wanna go into security news? 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:35:11] Yeah, let's talk about that. Then, I've got something about stimulus payments. It's not a security problem, but it's like internal controls, let's say. 
 
David Leary: [00:35:20] Okay. Well, this actually could very well lead into internal controls.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:35:26] Okay. 
 
David Leary: [00:35:26] So, I saw this headline go by, but I didn't catch it. It said, "Accounting group CPA victimized by cyberattack, some data on 329,000 people stolen." So, this is the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada group. This would be like the AICPA.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:35:43] Mm-hmm.
 
David Leary: [00:35:44] There was a cyberattack on its website, and the personal information for more than 300,000 members was stolen.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:35:50] Wow! 329,000?
 
David Leary: [00:35:50] Yes-
 
Blake Oliver: [00:35:50] What kind of information was- 
 
David Leary: [00:35:56] This is going to be ... Think about this: this is the email addresses, the names, your physical addresses, your employer names - but not your passwords, or credit card numbers because, apparently, those were encrypted - was all stolen. Now, these are accountants and bookkeepers. Why would you want a list of accountants' and bookkeepers' email addresses?
 
Blake Oliver: [00:36:15] I'm gonna go and do phishing attacks. That's what I'm gonna do if I'm a hacker. 
 
David Leary: [00:36:19] You cross that against those other hacks where email addresses and passwords have been leaked. I'm sure, of that 300,000, there's plenty of you accountants and bookkeepers out there that are using the same password you used to play that Zynga game, Words with Friends, that you used on your clients' files, and you probably used on this.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:36:38] Yeah. 
 
David Leary: [00:36:38] So, they are going to be coming. 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:36:41] Wow. 
 
David Leary: [00:36:41] Basically, if you're a CPA, you're gonna have to put in rules and diligence for your whole entire staff about them opening any emails, external emails, because the attacks are gonna come now. If you thought they were under attacks before ... Now, they're gonna be very focused because they know you're an accountant. Before, they just had random email addresses, but these are very, very specific. I could imagine, on the black market, this list probably is worth some extra money.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:37:06] So, going back to the PPP, when it comes to problems with configuring systems - like you said, protecting money data - the SBA did not have the best systems in place for processing these loans and probably still doesn't. We got a number from Reuters that kind of exposes just how bad this was, or the impact. At least 1,020 duplicate deposits were issued for PPP. So, people got PPP loans twice, or three times and could roughly result in $116 million dollars of overpaid PPP money.
 
David Leary: [00:37:45] Well, good thing ... Now that you have those extra weeks to use it, it works out. You have three times as long to use it now. 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:37:51] So, the problem was- what happened was people were applying for PPP through their bank, like Bank of America, and then not hearing anything back and getting frustrated and then going and applying through some alternate lender, like Kabbage or BlueVine, or Square. I guess these banks, then, and fintech were ... They didn't know that people had done it twice, so they were then reserving the loans, and somehow, the SBA gave out- approved more than one loan per borrower. I think it's because they weren't linking the loans to EIN numbers, at the beginning, anyway. It's a small amount in the big scheme of things, but in terms of percentage of the whole program, $160 million dollars is a lot. You wonder if they're ever gonna get that back, in a lot of cases. 
 
David Leary: [00:38:36] Bank A has no idea that you got money deposited in your bank account from Bank B.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:38:42] Right. 
 
David Leary: [00:38:44] They'd only really figure it out if the same bank deposited the money three times and set up three separate loans for you. Outside of that, you're right, how is this gonna reconcile up? Is it ever gonna- will anybody even detect it, or figure that out?
 
Blake Oliver: [00:38:57] Well, the banks might be on the hook for it because the SBA is only going to forgive one loan. So, it's up to the bank then to recover that money that they gave out.
 
David Leary: [00:39:07] But then, you just fill out the forgiveness paper for that loan with that bank, and just- now you have a five-year loan for one percent.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:39:13] Yeah, but I mean a lot of these businesses may not survive long enough to pay back the money. That's the thing. You can't go after the individual because the loans are not secured by a personal guarantee. So, it's a risk for the banks.
 
David Leary: [00:39:29] Yeah. 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:39:29] You wanna get into app news? 
 
David Leary: [00:39:30] Yeah. Why not? Let's jump in.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:39:31] Okay. Let's talk about Zoom. So, Zoom released its quarterly results and just crushed its earnings estimates. They doubled its revenue guidance. Their sales soared 169 percent to $328 million, amid the work-from-home, and study-from-home booms resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. This is according to CFO.com. Adjusted net income rose $58.3 million, or 20 cents a share, from $8.9 million, or three cents a share in the year-ago period. Amazing. Of course, their stock has just soared. Meantime, Microsoft, now, of course, has woken up to this whole video-conferencing thing, which is so funny to me because Skype has been around for so long and has sucked for so long, right? 
 
David Leary: [00:40:19] Yeah. 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:40:19] Microsoft has finally been scared by Zoom - just the same way they were scared by Slack - and they have upgraded their video-conferencing features in Microsoft teams. Now, you can see a gallery view in Microsoft Teams, where you can see up to 49 participants in a call at the same time, just like in Zoom. I got to use this for the first time. I was on a call with Sage. I downloaded the team's app for Mac, which I'd never used before, and I jumped on, and it was great. Really good experience. Similar to Zoom. So, there you go.
 
David Leary: [00:40:54] Yeah, Zoom ... The explosion of Zoom has threatened so many people. Facebook had to respond to it by improving their video chat because essentially Zoom became a social network, which threatened Facebook. Obviously, Google ... Everybody would be in Google. They would not use the Google video chat. They would schedule your meeting and use a Zoom instead- 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:41:12] Yep. 
 
David Leary: [00:41:12] -if you're using Google Calendar. Obviously, Microsoft ... It's amazing the ripple effect that Zoom has had on all these other companies that have had to chase now. They obviously could catch up. This could slow things down for Zoom. I'm actually possibly ... I'm not gonna say I'm in the market to look for something else, but Zoom had those security issues before. So, Zoom, they've been addressing those, and they keep adding things to Zoom, but I also feel like Zoom, twice a week, I open it, and features are moved, or they're different, or there's more secure- Now, it's starting to be ... Honest, I'm making WebEx jokes. Remember how in WebEx, the old Cisco WebEx, you'd have to give somebody the ball so they could present?
 
Blake Oliver: [00:41:52] Oh, yeah, yeah. 
 
David Leary: [00:41:52] I feel like this dance now exists in Zoom. You gotta make somebody else a host so they can present ... Is Zoom gonna be inconvenient? The bigger problem I've always felt, with Zoom, is great product ... Their menu, and preferences, and pricing structure is a nightmare. Like, I have one meeting, I don't have to keep handing people the ball. I go to another meeting, I gotta figure out how to make them a Zoom host. I don't even know what setting is what on each meeting; why one works one way and one's the other.
 
[00:42:21] So, Zoom's kinda- they're gonna have to streamline. Now that they have competition, they're gonna have to clean up some of their rapid mistakes, if you wanna call them that - the way they've been implementing things. So, it's funny that you brought up Microsoft because I actually have an article about Teams, as well, we can jump in, too.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:42:35] Yeah. Before we do that, I wanna just add to your point about Google. My company is on Google Apps, and we don't use Google Hangouts. One of the things I've always been frustrated with about Google Hangouts and their whole video conferencing is that it's super-resource intensive.  I run a Hangout and my computer is sweating when I'm on that Zoom ... I use the word 'Zoom' because that, to me, is synonymous with video conferencing now, right? I use their video chat, and it just doesn't work.
 
[00:43:01] Well, I don't know what they're doing about the resource usage and making it better in that regard, but they did make Google Meet free for all Google users on the free Gmail platform. So, now, if you have a Gmail account, you can just launch a Google Meet video meeting, which I think is based on the Hangouts technology and just do that for free because everybody's scared of Zoom's free plan. You can have a meeting up to, what, 30-45 minutes for free.
 
David Leary: [00:43:30] You're right about these video-conferencing apps just bringing your computers to their knees. I'm actually eyeballing a new device, and I could put this in the link. Lenovo released a Chromebook, but it's really a tablet with a detachable keyboard. So, it's similar- almost looks and tastes kind of like a Microsoft Surface, a little bit, but it's a Chromebook, so it's running Google's Chrome OS. They call it the Duet because you can also install Android apps.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:43:57] Hmm. 
 
David Leary: [00:43:57] You're not stuck with just [crosstalk] 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:43:59] The desktop-
 
David Leary: [00:44:00] -it's wide open. So, I've been eyeballing that a little bit myself. I can't buy it anywhere, but it's coming in at a price point of $300. 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:44:10] That's great because then you could just use that for the video conferencing-
 
David Leary: [00:44:13] Video conferencing, exactly. 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:44:13] -and not load up your computer.
 
David Leary: [00:44:16] But if I have the desktop-share a browser, I could still do that; just enough.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:44:21] I'm considering doing something similar when I move into my new home office. I'm going to set up a Zoom Room in my office just for myself so that I can go and sit on the couch and have a meeting without having to sit in front of my computer all day long. That way, also, it's not gonna bog down my computer. It'll be more like having people in the room kind of situation [crosstalk] 
 
David Leary: [00:44:42] -up on the wall type of a situation?
 
Blake Oliver: [00:44:45] Yeah. It's gonna be a TV with a nice webcam. They have all these kits you can do, and they go from cheap to really thousands of dollars. I'm not gonna go crazy, but it's gonna be separate from my computer so that when I have a meeting, I can actually walk over and sit down at a conference-room type table, or on a couch, or something and have a meeting with somebody like I used to in the office. I think it'll be a worthwhile investment. I'll let you know how it goes.
 
David Leary: [00:45:11] No, definitely because I want to build an office at my house now because I cannot stand in closets anymore. I do have plans to build a little recording studio, which would be perfect for the show.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:45:23] Yeah. 
 
David Leary: [00:45:23] Obviously, you're still in Zooms; you're still doing these things, so I'll be excited to ... I'm sure our listeners, as well ... What is the ultimate home office? That's gonna be the new man cave, now, right? Everybody's gonna one-up each other's home offices.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:45:36] We'll have to do a comparison. Once you have yours built, and I have mine, we can do a walk-through and people can vote. 
 
David Leary: [00:45:42] Yeah, whose is the best? 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:45:42] On app news, I do wanna talk about an actual accounting app because- 
 
David Leary: [00:45:48] Before you jump in, I have Microsoft Teams news.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:45:51] Oh, tell me Microsoft Teams.
 
David Leary: [00:45:52] It was an article just titled, "Top three ways to get the most out of Microsoft Teams for your small business." Usually, to be honest, I would not click and read these articles, but I just know a vast majority of accountants and accounting firms are already using Microsoft Office 365, which is actually called something new now. I think it's just called Microsoft ... They dropped the word 'Office,' I think, apparently [crosstalk] 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:46:16] Okay. It's because we're not in the office anymore, right? 
 
David Leary: [00:46:17] Possibly. I think, because of that, people would get things like Teams for free and other things ... Part of this article, it goes into, "Hey, you should use Teams to share files." Like, duh ... "You should use the planner to manage workflows and keep track of to-dos." Did you know that Teams has a feature called Shifts?
 
Blake Oliver: [00:46:40] What is this?
 
David Leary: [00:46:42] To manage your payroll, time off, working hours, your employee schedules, and more. 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:46:45] I had no idea.
 
David Leary: [00:46:48] Me, neither. It's something like, if you have a client that they need to do time tracking, they need to- they have their employees remote, and they're on Microsoft Teams, this could be a possible solution.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:46:59] Huh ... Good.
 
David Leary: [00:47:01] Versus buying a big old integrated package. If you already paying for Teams, you just get this for free. Now, I don't know who it integrates with; if it integrates with their payroll providers, or if this data's just like, boom, it's an Excel file now, and now, what do you do with it? But it is available. It's out there. You have built-in time tracking in your Teams product if you're using Teams. 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:47:21] Well, that's great. All right, so my last app news story is Xero and their latest updates. Xero has been kind of quiet with updates for the U.S. for a while, but there's some really neat stuff coming out. I don't know if you've seen the new Business Performance Snapshot. Actually, it's just called Business Snapshot now. It's in pilot - I guess that's what they call beta - and has been rolled out to all Xero Business customers. You can now access that in the Reporting module.
 
[00:47:49] It's a really simple way for business owners to get an idea of their key metrics. So, profitability; their profit and loss versus this fiscal year, last year; their income with charts showing over time and compared to the previous year; expenses; gross profit margin; their balance sheet; financial position ... Really basic KPIs. 
 
David Leary: [00:48:15] Did they build this on their own or did they partner with a third-party app, and they're actually just kind of embedding the third-party app in?
 
Blake Oliver: [00:48:21] No, this looks to be built by Xero in Xero. It's got that Xero feel. It's very clean, lots of white space. It's very basic information, but  really good information to present. I think it's gonna be more helpful for the end users than the accountants because it's super-basic information that we can read off of the financial statements. For people who aren't familiar with reading financial statements, this is a great way for them to get a picture of what's going on and could be useful because you can print it to PDF, and share it with your clients, and all that stuff. 
 
David Leary: [00:48:53] At QuickBooks Connect, Intuit was kind of showing some of this for accountants. It's like a dashboard, and then you could enable some widgets for your clients. How much of an impact do you think this is gonna have on the third-party ...? There is a lot of dashboard/widget-y reporting tools that add onto QuickBooks, and Xero. What do you think the impact is, if these tools are just good enough for most businesses?
 
Blake Oliver: [00:49:14] Exactly.
 
David Leary: [00:49:14] Is it gonna be a taste where, "This is great. I love it. I want more!"- is it gonna be that, or is it just gonna be like, "I'll never use a third-party app because this is good enough ..."? 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:49:24] This is like a lot of features that QuickBooks, and Xero have been building into the app, where previously, only third-party solutions have done it. I'm paying a lot of attention to this because at Jirav, we do dashboarding. That's one of the features we offer, but that is not the main value proposition. I think that if you are an app that does dashboarding, that should not be your main value proposition because that is something that these accounting systems are gonna do. You need to do way more than that- than just visualize data.
 
[00:49:55] For instance, we pull in operational data so you can do KPIs that relate operational and financial data. I don't think QuickBooks, and Xero are gonna have statistical accounts, the way Sage Intacct does, for a very long time, where you can pull in non-financial information, as well. That's a big thing for them to do. The key is, just the same way with time sheets, right? Now you can track your time in Xero Projects. You can track time in QuickBooks. Well, does that mean you don't need a separate time-tracking solution? You might if you need more advanced functionality.
 
David Leary: [00:50:28] Yeah, it depends on where you're at, and life cycle of your business, and size, et cetera [crosstalk] 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:50:31] Yeah, you need a mobile app to be able to track time. Do you need it to do it automatically? Do you need it to automatically import your payroll? All that stuff ... The other thing along these lines that Xero has released is super-exciting. It's a short-term cash flow projection. Again, this might scare some of the apps that do this.
 
[00:50:49] It's a very basic short term cash flow projection, though. Basically what it does, it takes your bank balances- you can choose operating accounts. It sums up the balance in your operating accounts and then projects cash flow over time based on the bills and invoices that you have entered in the system and the projected payment and collection states that you have entered. It allows you to then very easily modify those dates to see what will happen to your cash flow and if you're gonna stay positive or go negative.
 
David Leary: [00:51:16] I imagine that ties into ... Xero announced they're getting into that finance and loan game, as well, so I imagine that cash flow ties into them pushing people ... "Oh, your cash flow is low. You should probably get a loan." You know? 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:51:29] Yeah. Maybe they're using this technology to actually project cash flow for businesses so they can offer them the loans, too, right? They need to calculate this information themselves. So, I think it's pretty neat. It shows you how the cloud accounting GLs are developing features that the desktop solutions never had. It's no longer about adding functionality that desktop has. It's about adding functionality it never had, ever- 
 
David Leary: [00:51:53] That nobody's ever had; yeah, never existed.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:51:57] Right. 
 
David Leary: [00:51:57] I saw that Xero delayed their price hike indefinitely.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:52:00] Oh, yeah.
 
David Leary: [00:52:01] They planned on raising prices, especially in the Australian marketplace. If you're number one, you raise prices. Intuit's been doing that with QuickBooks here in the States. Because of the COVID-19 fallout, they just are capping that and riding out their current price structure. Which, am I understanding, Xero, if you're in the AU, and New Zealand markets, is definitely more expensive than it is in the U.S. market? Is this from a ...? 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:52:25] Yeah ... It makes sense because it's a real practice management solution in those markets, where you have integrated accounting and tax, which is something that we've never had here, end to end. So, there's a lot more value for accounting firms. They can- I bet if you added up what accounting firms spend on tax software, and accounting software, it would come out to be similar. So, that's why it's twice as expensive in Australia, and New Zealand. I don't know what it is exactly, but it's a lot more.
 
David Leary: [00:52:57] Yeah, that's my understanding, as well. Speaking of Australia, QuickBooks is ... You know QuickBooks has the receipt capture- receipt, and bill capturing? 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:53:03] Yeah, that's a relatively new thing, right? 
 
David Leary: [00:53:09] They rolled it out to the U.S.; they rolled it out to Canada; now, it's being rolled out to Australia, as well. Intuit probably really needed it in Australia first, because, essentially, Xero has that with the Hubdoc acquisition - [inaudible] receipt and bill capturing. 
 
Blake Oliver: [00:53:25] I've always got more that I could talk about. I feel like you and I could talk for hours, but we try to keep it under an hour, which is probably more than most our listeners can handle. So, thank you folks who are still listening. We appreciate it - going to the end with us.
 
David Leary: [00:53:38] We slipped a little bit this time.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:53:40] If people want to reach you online, David, and give you a piece of their mind, what's the best place for them to do that?
 
David Leary: [00:53:47] Twitter is by far the best place, but you can also use LinkedIn. I'm @DavidLeary at either one of those services.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:53:54] I'm @BlakeTOliver. You can connect with me on LinkedIn. I request - please tell me that you are a listener. Say you listen to the show so that I can accept your connection, and I know you're not a bot. If you wanna leave us a voice message, you could do that, too. We've got a Google Voice number set up. It's (202) 695-1040. That is (202) 695-1040. You can give us a call. Tell us what you think, and we'll take a listen; we might even play it on the air.
 
David Leary: [00:54:21] I think that's a wrap. I have no more articles.
 
Blake Oliver: [00:54:23] Stay safe. Stay sane. I'll see you here next week.
 
David Leary: [00:54:26] Next week.
 
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AccountingTax.com has helped more than 8,900 tax, accounting, and wealth management firms map out a client experience, through client acquisition, conversion, onboarding, retention, and expansion, with the goal of getting clients to pay more, year over year. If you're looking to develop your practice and take it to the next level with advisory services, go to accountingtax.com/cloud to learn more. 
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Did you know that, in response to the COVID-19 situation, you can now take your Microsoft Excel certification from home? Want to learn how? You can by joining Steve Chase's Excel Bootcamp. His summer classes run Monday through Fridays from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Central Time. Register online at sequentiasolutions.com/bootcamp for only $150. If you mention The Cloud Accounting Podcast referred you, you'll receive an extra $30 off. High school students are highly encouraged to sign up, and you can find the link in the show notes. 
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Want to get the word out about your newsletter, webinar, party, Facebook group, podcast, e-book, job posting, or that fancy Excel macro you just created? Why not let the listeners of The Cloud Accounting Podcast know by running a classified ad? Hit the show notes for the link to get more info and be sure to check out our special stimulus pricing of four episodes for just $100. 

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