Smith Schafer Named Top 150 Workplaces in Minnesota by the Star Tribune

Smith Schafer Named Top 150 Workplaces in Minnesota by the Star Tribune

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We are excited to announce Smith Schafer has received the special recognition of being named a Top 150 Workplace — a ranking that places us among the best of the best. We are thrilled to be included on the list and are very thankful to our employees who helped make this happen. Top Workplaces recognizes the most progressive companies in Minnesota based on employee opinions measuring engagement, organizational health, and satisfaction. The analysis included responses from over 76,000 employees at Minnesota public, private, and nonprofit organizations. 

Smith Schafer was ranked #67 on the small business list.

We truly appreciate our team’s commitment, dedication, and hard work to help us be a Top Workplace for the fifth year in a row!

Beyond the Numbers: Smith Schafer is an award-winning firm with three local offices in Rochester, Minneapolis, and Red Wing. We offer accounting, tax, audit and advisory services to growth-driven businesses in Minnesota.

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Smith Schafer Earns ClearlyRated’s 2020 Best of Accounting Award for Client Service Excellence

Smith Schafer Earns ClearlyRated’s 2020 Best of Accounting Award for Client Service Excellence

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2020 Best of Accounting Announcement

Smith Schafer is excited to announce we are one of 40 firms across the country recognized with ClearlyRated’s 2020 Best of Accounting Award for providing superior service. Best of Accounting Award winners have proven themselves as industry leaders in service quality based entirely on ratings provided by their clients.

With its most recent client satisfaction survey, Smith Schafer received a Net Promoter®️ Score (NPS) of 84. NPS is used by more than two-thirds of Fortune 1000 companies for measuring client satisfaction and is based on a single survey question that asks clients how likely they are to recommend a business to a friend or colleague. According to global NPS standards, an NPS score of 50+ is considered excellent, with above 70 considered “world-class.” The accounting industry average was 24% in 2019.

Smith Schafer received satisfaction scores of 9 or 10 out of 10 from 87.3% of their clients, significantly higher than the industry’s average of 45% in 2019.

“We work hard to make service a top priority, and place importance on every client we serve. We are proud to be recognized for our efforts by our clients and by ClearlyRated,” Smith Schafer’s Managing Principal, Steve Erchul said.

On average, clients of 2020 Best of Accounting winners are 1.9x more likely to be satisfied than those who work with non-winning firms.

Why Clients Choose Us

  • Smith Schafer always provides great information for our business. They are thorough with our accounting and financial planning. We have leaned heavily on them with interpretation of the PPP Loan and COVID-19 planning. They have been instrumental in our success and are always very knowledgeable and quick to respond to any of our questions.
  • Smith Schafer has provided second to none service and value to my business and personal accounts for over 30 years. Their expertise and knowledge are unmatched by any other accounting firm I have encountered over all these years.
  • The relationship we have built over the years with the staff at Smith Schafer is one that can never be replaced. They are quick with helping us figure anything out, always willing to pick up the phone and walk us through any problem we are having. Also they are just all so friendly and kind!
  • We love our CPA team at Smith Schafer. They have helped us navigate many personal and business decisions.
  • Smith Schafer is very dedicated to their clients and always has their best interests in mind. They are very knowledgeable and thinking ahead to what the clients may be needing in the future. We would highly recommend Smith Schafer to our family and friends.

Minnesota Small Business Relief Grant Application

Minnesota Small Business Relief Grant Application

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The Minnesota Legislature passed the Small Business Relief Grants Program. The program approved approximately $62 million for grants to Minnesota small businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic. 


The Minnesota Small Business Relief Grant Application went live yesterday, June 23, 2020. Businesses may apply for the $10,000 grant if the following are met:

  • Minnesota company with Minnesota owners.
  • Total business revenue between March 1, 2020 and May 31, 2020, declined by 10 percent or more as a result of COVID-19, compared to the same period in 2019.
  • Less than 50 employees.

The grant is based on a lottery system, and businesses do not need to attach any documents to apply. However, if you receive the grant, documentation will be required.

The application must be completed online and is available on the MN Employment and Economic Development Website.

Applications will be accepted until 5:00 pm on Thursday, July 2, 2020. Following the deadline, the state will conduct a lottery to determine which applicants will receive funds.

Additional information needed to apply:

  • Revenue between March 1, 2019 and May 31, 2019
  • Revenue between March 1, 2020 and May 31, 2020
  • Number of full-time employees and the number of part-time employees

Questions about the relief grant application?

Smith Schafer can help you leverage opportunities and make the best decisions for your company. For additional information and guidance, please contact us at [email protected].

Minnesota Sales & Use Tax Accelerated – June Payment

Minnesota Sales & Use Tax Accelerated – June Payment

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Sales and use tax receipts are generally paid to the state on the 20th day of the month following the month in which a sale is made. Taxpayers who have a sales and use tax liability over $250,000 in the state’s prior fiscal year (July 1 to June 30) are required to make an accelerated payment of the expected June sales tax liability.

Note: Once a taxpayer is required to make a June accelerated payment, they must continue making this payment until notified by the department of revenue that their requirement has changed.

Accelerated Payment Amount

To avoid penalty, the amount of the June accelerated pay­ment must be one of the following:

  • 87.5% of actual June liability
  • 87.5% of May liability
  • 87.5% of the average monthly liabil­ity for the previous calendar year

Due Date

The June accelerated payment is due two business days before June 30. This year it falls on June 26, 2020, for the current filing period. The remaining amount and the June sales and use tax return is due August 20.

Making a Payment

The accelerated payment is made using a Minnesota e-Services account. Select the June sales tax filing period, then select make a payment and choose the “estimated” payment type.


If a taxpayer DID NOT make an accelerated payment by the required due date or if it was underpaid, they may be assessed a penalty. The penalty assessed is 10% of the difference between the timely payment and 87.5% of the actual June liability.

Questions regarding the Minnesota Sales & Use Tax Accelerated?

PPP: New Interim Final Rules and Forgiveness Applications

PPP: New Interim Final Rules and Forgiveness Applications

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Updates brought on by the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act

The SBA and Treasury have released new Paycheck Protection Program guidance and forgiveness applications.  This new material addresses changes brought by the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, including those to PPP loan maturity, deferral, and forgiveness.

Interim Final Rule on Revisions to First Interim Final Rule clarifies that spending 60 percent of PPP proceeds on payroll costs is not a cliff requirement.  Put differently, if a borrower spends only 59 percent of PPP proceeds on payroll costs, the borrower will receive partial loan forgiveness, rather than no loan forgiveness, as the text of the Flexibility Act suggests.

Consistent with the Flexibility Act, the Interim Final rule on Revisions to the First Interim Final Rule also provides that:

  • the covered period for forgiveness purposes is now the 24-week period after loan disbursement, or 8-week period, if elected; and
  • loan maturity is 5 years for loans made on June 5 or after, but remains 2 years for loans made before, unless borrowers and lenders agree to an extension (the date SBA assigns a loan number to the PPP loan is the date it is considered “made”).

Released separately, Interim Final Rule on Revisions to the Third and Sixth Interim Final Rules allows self-employed persons to reach complete loan forgiveness.  For self-employed borrowers with a 24‑week covered period, maximum forgiveness now matches their maximum loan amount.  Owner compensation replacement equal to 2.5 months’ worth of 2019 net profit (up to $20,833) may be forgiven.  For borrowers who elect the 8‑week covered period, forgiveness remains limited at 8 weeks’ worth of 2019 net profit (up to $15,385), which may fall short of the total amount borrowed.  For non-owner employees, the wage cap for the 24‑week covered period is $46,154 ($100,000 annualized for 24 weeks), rather than $15,385 for the 8-week covered period.  

The changes are borne out in updated forgiveness applications.  You can find Form 3508, 6/20 edition, here.  The application confirms that owner compensation for the 24-week covered period is capped at $20,833, rather than $15,385 for the 8‑week covered period.   It also provides that the FTE safe harbor restoration measurement date is the day when the forgiveness application is submitted, or December 31, whichever is earlier. 

The SBA also released a new Form 3508EZ, which is about half the length of the full version.  Borrowers that may use Form 3508EZ include those that:

  • are self-employed and have no employees;
  • didn’t reduce salary or wages of any employee by more than 25 percent during the covered period or the “alternative payroll covered period” (a concept we explored here) and who also didn’t reduce the number of employees or the average paid hours of employees; or
  • experienced reductions in business activity as a result of health directives related to COVID–19 and didn’t reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25 percent. 

Generally, the EZ application requires less math and less paperwork. Form 3508EZ’s instructions come in at only 4 pages, compared to the 7 pages for the non-EZ version.  As always, we expect more guidance and revisions.  

Minnesota Small Business Relief Grants

We are also monitoring Minnesota House File 5, which approves approximately $62 million for grants to small businesses.  Half of this amount will go to businesses outside the metro area. 

A business will be eligible if it is owned by a permanent resident of Minnesota, is located in Minnesota, employs 50 full-time workers or less, is in good standing with the secretary of state and department of revenue, and can demonstrate financial hardship as a result of COVID–19.  Eligible businesses may receive grants of up to $10,000 to use on payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility bills, and other similar business expenses. 

Certain businesses will have priority based on size or demographics.  At least $18 million must go to businesses that employ the equivalent of 6 full-time workers or less, at least $10 million must go to minority business enterprises, at least $2.5 million must go to businesses that are majority owned and operated by veterans, at least $2.5 million to businesses that are majority owned and operated by women, and at least $2.5 million must go to “operators of a privately owned permanent indoor retail space and food market that has an ethnic cultural emphasis having at least 25 tenants primarily comprised of businesses with fewer than 20 employees.” 

Grants will be approved on a lottery basis.  The application period will last no more than 10 calendar days.  Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation will be administering a portion of these funds to businesses in this  region, though details are not yet available.


To learn more, visit the COVID-19 Resource section of our website or contact us at [email protected].