[IMGCAP(1)]As a CPA, you’re accustomed to being the “go-to” resource for all things taxes, legal and financial.

This is particularly true when your client base consists of small to midsized businesses. Client questions can range from advice on selecting a health care plan to the design of new offices. Some matters fall within your scope of expertise, and for others, you just ethically and legally cannot advise.

But there’s one area that not enough CPAs include in their service portfolio: legal document filings. Helping clients file for an LLC or a corporation, or file their initial or annual statement of information or report can be a natural and synergistic extension of what you do already.

Take the following scenario as an example. A CPA advises a client to form an S corporation for tax purposes. I'm sure you know what comes next. The client turns and says, “Great, can you take care of that for me?” It’s a simple, straightforward question that doesn’t always get a straightforward answer.

Some CPAs refer clients to a qualified attorney; others provide advice based on tax implications, and tell clients they can’t help beyond that. After all, the process is a time-consuming hassle and most CPAs do not have the luxury to learn the ins and outs of document filings. And unless the CPA is a practicing attorney, he or she would need legal assistance to file the documents necessary to form a corporation or LLC anyway.

However, there’s a creative alternative that can bring big benefits to your clients and business. Instead of retaining an attorney to form a corporation or LLC, or advising your client to obtain the assistance of an attorney to do the same, you can enlist a legal document filing service as a silent fulfillment partner. This way, you can help your clients get set up with the right business structure based on your financial recommendations, without having to wade through all the tedium yourself.

This arrangement offers several benefits:

You become a greater resource for your clients. By taking care of your clients’ filing needs, you no longer need to send them to another vendor or resource. You remain the main point of contact throughout the process, saving clients the hassle of managing yet another vendor or consultant relationship. This strengthens your role as a trusted resource and advisor, as clients can count on your expertise and help in a greater number of matters. Find a legal document filing service company that is willing to be your “silent partner” (even wrap their informational guides in your own branding), so you retain the relationship with your client.

You don't need to become an expert in each state’s incorporation laws. Legal document filings required to form a corporation or an LLC, make changes to an existing company (also referred to as an amendment), or even close a company (also known as a dissolution) can be tedious, time-consuming and fraught with details. Regulations and requirements vary across states (e.g., how many copies do you need to submit to the state for a filing or what are the state’s filing fees for this particular filing). Unfortunately, a state’s Secretary of State website doesn’t always contain the most up-to-date information. By turning to a service that specializes in these matters, you can save yourself the headache and hassle of learning and staying current on each and every detail.

It’s less expensive (for you and your clients). A document-filing service will cost significantly less than the hourly rate of an attorney, or your own CPA rate. You’ll be able to pass some of that savings on to your clients, making for happy customers. And in some cases, this lowered rate will secure more business with those clients who simply would not be able to afford to pay an expert’s hourly rate for such a task. As a result, you can focus your time and billable hours on more advanced tax and financial advice.

It’s faster. Offloading tedious tasks like legal document filings or document retrievals to a legal document filing service will save you time and enable you to serve more clients. Working with an incorporation service company can also speed up the process overall, particularly when dealing with out of state filings or retrievals. A trusted legal document filing service, most often, will have offices located in each state, enabling them to file directly with that state (whether it’s online or offline) to result in quicker filings and the completion of your client’s business entity.

This arrangement may not be ideal for every CPA’s business model. But finding the right business partner can help you provide added value to your clients and position yourself as a trusted advisor and essential resource for their business.

Nellie Akalp is the CEO and co-founder of CorpNet Inc., an incorporation-filing service company.

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